Sunday, 13 December 2015

Is Self-Publishing For Everyone?

‘With its authors starting to regularly hit the bestseller lists, the world of self-publishing no longer carries the negative connotations it used to.’  says the Writers and Artists website:

When my first historical novels were published some years ago by a small digital publisher, I was made aware by other authors at conferences and writer’s groups that I wasn’t a ‘real author’ and wouldn't be until I was published by a mainstream publisher. 

Digital publishing was new and viewed with suspicion – a fad which would never last. Self-publishing was seen as vanity publishing by authors who couldn't attract the attention of a traditional publisher, and besides, everyone believed that once your novel was 'out there' no publisher would look at it.

The online writer community continued to send out query letters in the quest for an agent and/or a publisher, while some resorted to self-publishing when all other avenues had been exhausted. We wished them every success, but secretly believed being traditionally published was the better route - until it became clear that many were earning far more than their traditionally published counterparts.

Attitudes to self publishing have altered in the last five years, and recently my quiet superiority was swept away when I was told my current publisher has sold out to a larger concern who may, or may not continue with their current fiction list. Therefore they will not be publishing, albeit reluctantly, the second book in my cosy mystery series.

I am about to embark on another round of submissions, or rather my agent is, then someone asked me a question. ‘What is your publisher doing for you that you cannot do for yourself, other than take the lion’s share of the royalties?’

That got me thinking. Was I viewing self-publishing from the wrong perspective?

To help me find out, I attended a group of the Alliance of Independent Authors or ALLi as it is known, made up of self-motivated authors who offer networking and practical help in all aspects of writing. They proved to be a fascinating and knowledgeable group of authors who showed me that local exposure can go a long way to increase your author profile. 

In the three years since its inception, this national organisation has accumulated a vast array of resources ranging from editing services, cover art design, legal advice on contracts, critique and review groups, advice on increasing your book sales, local literary festivals where authors can showcase their work, library talks, seminars, book groups, the list goes on.

By the end of my first meeting, the thought of being in total control of my own work was more appealing, and with so many resources available to make self-publishing easy, maybe I do have the confidence to strike out on my own after all - and even make sales.

Further Reading
Spiffing Covers
Self Publishing Review
The Book Designer


Diane Scott Lewis said...

I plan to go this self-pub route, though previous attempts garnered few sales. But I'll give it another try.

I even emailed ALLi to see if they have a group near to where I live.

Anita Davison said...

I'd be interested to know what your thoughts on this are Diane - self publishing is certainly being better received lately. Friends who have gone this route are getting good sales.

Katherine Pym said...

I'm more afraid of going it on my own, but one of these days, I'll give it a try. Can't hurt, can it?

Diane Scott Lewis said...

I'd say let your agent scout around and see what kind of deal you can make. If it isn't satisfactory, try self publishing. You can always look for mainstream again if the self pubbing doesn't work out.

Annemarie Brear said...

I think it's a worthy option. One I have taken for older books as well as being with a publisher for newer books. I think self publishing can be very beneficial and enjoyable if expectations are low to begin with. I wish I had done it much earlier.

Petrea Burchard said...

I've published two books and been happy with the results. I'm not going to retire to the tropics but my Amazon numbers are pretty decent.

I haven't been traditionally published, although that would be fine, too. It's my understanding, however, that sales and marketing and publicity are mostly the author's responsibility no matter how you publish. Distribution has not caught up to the self-publishing trend, so if you want your book in stores nationally you still need a traditional publisher. But if online sales are good enough for you, self-publishing is completely viable.

An advantage you have, Anita, is an agent who believes in you. A good agent can make a lot of things possible that an author can't facilitate on her own.

Anne Gallagher said...

I've always been self-published and I love it. I have control over every aspect of the process, including formatting, uploading, and cover choices, which can be a bit daunting. However, I wouldn't change it for the world.

Some months sales are good, some months sales are slow, yet, that's with every retailer anywhere. Even Macy's has slow sales months.

The best part about self-publishing a series though, is that you can do it at your own pace. If you write three books a year, a traditional publisher might only publish one every 18 months. And I've learned from writing my own series, is that the faster you can put books out there, the faster your fan base will gobble them up.

Xina Uhl said...

I love the feeling of empowerment that self publishing gives me. I'm not approaching publishers on my knees, hands out for them to please accept my book. Sales have not been great, although to be honest I don't put in the marketing time I need to.

Digital only publishers have come a long way as well. Some are paying hefty advances so I would give them another shot.

Susan C. said...

James Joyce published his own work, and William Morris and the Bloomsbury group both had their own presses. I suppose today they'd be accused of vanity publishing! As I've said elsewhere, if you were making dresses or selling your own cakes, no one would question whether you were good enough because you didn't work for a fashion house or baking company. Why do we hold authors to a different standard?

Debbie Young said...

Hi Anita, as coordinator of the Cheltenham ALLi meetup group, can I just say it was a delight to have you join our group, and we all thought you were the ideal candidate to start self-publishing - an established platform, a strong authorial voice, tons of ideas and a series ready to roll. Whichever way you decide to go, you will be welcome to join ALLi, even if just to keep in touch with the world of self-publishing and to demonstrate your interest and support. We share plenty of ideas and information that will be of value to all authors, however they are published - and the line between trade published and indie authors is getting ever blurrier! Have just downloaded "Murder on the Minneapolis" for some Christmas reading, btw! Best wishes, Debbie

Maggi Andersen said...

The publishing world has changed dramatically since I began to write over ten years ago. I consider myself a hybrid author because some of my books are with a publisher. Self publishing can be a lonely road, but it's been great for me. I love having full artistic control of my work. I now have a reliable editor and great cover artists, and I've just formatted my first book. It hasn't made me a millionaire, but I do make a steady income, far better than I did with a publisher.

Mark Noce said...

Great self-publishing info:) I find that even as an author working with a big publisher, the experience is still oddly similar to what indie publishers must do. Either way, we're all still authors:)