Friday, May 6, 2016

Why I'm Not Self-Publishing

Over the last few years, getting published has become easier than ever through the growing popularity and ease of self-publication. Many authors have chosen to pursue this path in some fashion, including some of my favorites, like Wayne Thomas Batson, Christopher Hopper, and Anne Elisabeth Stengl. However, despite its popularity, I still hope to go the traditional publishing route once I have something worth putting out there. . . and here's why.

Why I'm Not Self-Publishing

  1. Even my best works need polishing. Can I edit my books on my own and through the help of family, friends, and proofies/beta-readers? Of course I can. Others have (and I've been a proofie/beta-reader for more than one of them). But even a lot of self-published authors agree that a professional editor is a must- and having read self-published books that definitely didn't have a professional edit, I tend to agree. And, yes, a self-published author can hire a professional editor to look over her book, but they're expensive. On the other hand, traditional publishing puts my novel in the hands of a team of editors who, unlike friends, family, and beta readers, don't have any reason to go easy on me but do have a good reason to help me make my book the best it can be- and who I don't have to pay out of pocket.
  2. On a similar note, people judge books by their covers. Should they? No, of course they shouldn't. But they do anyway. I do it to some degree, you probably do it too. And, like editing, cover design is something that I could probably do myself (I do have a certain amount of skill with Photoshop) or could hire someone else (for example, Laura Hollingsworth, creator of one of the best and most beautiful webcomics I've ever read) to do for me. But the problem with the former is that what I can come up with is primarily dependent on what I can cobble together from my own photography and stock images, and the problem with the latter is that, again, it costs money out of pocket. But, also like editing, if I publish traditionally there's a professional cover designer there to handle it for me. True, I don't get to decide myself what the cover looks like . . . but I think I can live with that.
  3. However, the most beautiful possible prose and the most gorgeous cover imaginable won't do me any good if no one knows my book exists. Which brings me to my third point: traditional publishing means my book will reach more people. I am not good at marketing and advertising and promoting products and all that sort of thing (which may prove to be a problem later in my career, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it). And while I hope that a lot of you who read my blog will buy my book, not all of you will. (And I will totally understand when you don't, because I have friends who've published books and I haven't bought their books because there's three billion and one books that I want to buy and limited funds to buy them with. So, yeah, I get it.) But if I connect with a publishing house, they have a great deal of interest in making sure that as many people as possible hear about my book, which means more people will buy it (and, I hope, enjoy it).
  4. This next reason may come as a surprise, given some of what I've said so far, but: I don't plan on making a lot of money through novels, no matter how I publish them. Don't take that to mean I don't want to make any money on my novels, because if that were the case I'd probably just post the lot of them to my blog, then bind them up nicely and self-publish each one once it had been been posted in full. But I think that one of the two biggest draws of self-publishing is that the authors get to pocket more of the proceeds than they would in traditional publishing, which is pretty important if you're trying to make a living off of being an author. However, I don't plan on my creative writing providing my main income, so the advantages of traditional publishing- namely, the support in editing, design, and promotion- are, in my opinion, worth the trade-off in profits.
  5. My final reason for choosing traditional publishing is similar to my first, but not completely: traditional publishing forces me to constantly push to be better. If I have to impress no one but myself and perhaps my beta-readers and editors in order to publish, I will always be tempted to say "Eh, this is good enough" and not ask "Is there a way I can make this better?" However, if simply starting the process is reliant on my impressing someone else- someone who sees a lot of stories go across his desk and whose job it is to pick the very best of them- I will always be asking "Can I change something to make this better?" And if I'm going to put my stories out there as the best they can be, that motivation is something I very desperately need.
Now, I'm not saying that there aren't advantages to self-publishing. There definitely are, and I can understand why another author might choose to go that route. And I'm also not saying that my opinions might not change eventually, that I might not decide that self-publishing is the better option for me personally after all. What I am saying is that for me, personally, in the place that I'm in, traditional publishing has enough advantages, enough areas where they fill in for my weaknesses, that it's worth the disadvantages.

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

19 comments:

  1. YES. These reasons are golden. I don't want to self publish a book. Probably ever, unless something appears that will drastically change my mind. I can see how self publishing would work for some people, but the pros of traditional publishing are just too many. Especially with the cover making. xD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. Though, for me, the cover making is the bit I feel most like I could handle myself or afford to hire out- the editing and marketing are the bits I'm least confident in. Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  2. This is a great post! It's clear you've thought out your reasons and they good reasons. Publishing your own work definitely requires a significant amount of time. Also, knowing what you do and don't want to both get out of and put into your writing career will help you continue to make choices that focus on what you *do* want to do instead getting distracted by everything you *could* do :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! And that second bit- about keeping in mind what I do and don't want to get out of my career- is something I'll have to remember.

      Delete
  3. This was a great post Sarah, I loved it! You made a lot of good points. I've considered both self-publishing and traditional publishing, and I'm not sure which road I'll take, but you definitely gave me some stuff to consider :). I really enjoyed reading this! Thank you! *bookmarks post*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it and I could help!

      Delete
  4. This is a similar position to I'm in. I'll certainly try to get a publisher before self publishing, particularly, because I want to make sure it's good enough to get past the gatekeepers. But depending on what happens I might consider self-publishing, if I can afford to do it well.
    I have heard though that some publishers don't really help so much with the marketing these days. Be aware that you'll still have to do some.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I'm aware that I'll have to do some marketing. But as long as I know I'm not necessarily doing all the work- as long as there's someone else who has my back, so to speak- I should be fine.

      Delete
  5. I tooootally love this and agree with your opinions here! DEFINITELY. I don't want to self-pub for all these reasons....and the (maybe shallow?) reason that I think self-publishing has been given a terrible name by people putting out unedited and horribly not-ready books. :( So it's kind of spoiled the market, basically??? Self-published authors have to work MEGA hard without as much support as traditional-published authors get...and then they also have to work against all the stigmas. Plus the marketing, omg, what a nightmare.

    SO YEAH. I don't plan to self-publish. I want to say "never ever"...but. WELL. XD I don't know that for sure! But I feel like if I can't land a traditional book-deal I still wouldn't go self. I also like that, when going traditionally, you have like a publishing house backing you up and believing in you! They wouldn't publish you if they didn't like your writing, eh? So that eliminates an element of self-doubt. :') Which is NICE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely agree that self-publishing has a really bad name . . . and the sad thing is, a lot of self-published books do kind of deserve it because, like you said, they're not ready to be out in the world but the authors don't realize it. That's another reason I don't want to self-publish, but I forgot when I was writing the list.

      I think that I might go self-publishing if I tried really hard for a really long time to get traditional published, but it didn't work out and I thought that the particular story was one that really needed to be out there. But I definitely do agree- having someone who doesn't even know you say "Hey, this is good; let's publish this!" would be very confidence-boosting.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post and fantastic reasons! I'm still dithering over which path I'm going to take, but I loved seeing this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      Delete
  8. AMEN! AAAAAMEEEEEN!!!

    Sorry, got a bit excited there. ; D But YES! MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh. I like excited. Thanks, Allison!

      Delete
  9. I agree that those are very good points. Unfortunately, the benefits of self-publication won out for me. You see, I have a HUGE interconnected world, and I wanted the power to publish them in the order they needed to be published - and not at someone else's discretion. I wanted to keep it between me and my readers. I've been blessed with a cousin who's AMAZING with photoshop, so she does most of my covers (Although it was her son who did WPFP, and I did the Ankulen and all of the short stories). Also, I've found a thriving community of self-publishing authors, and we do a lot to help each other out. It's amazing.

    Also, on the marketing points, I found out from Jennifer Freitag that unless you managed to sign on with one of the BIG publishing companies, you're still going to have to do much, or even most of your marketing on your own. And BIG publishing companies are VERY hard to get into.

    With self-publication, I have an immediate relationship with my readers, my responsibility is directly to them. I don't have a middle man. And I like it that way. Yes, it's harder work, and sometimes it feels like climbing a sheer glass wall, but it's hard work to get INTO a publishing company, too.

    I'm not saying I'll never attempt traditional publication, though. I do have a Superhero Boarding School Dystopia that is independent enough of the rest of my work for me to pursue the idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given what you said, I can totally understand why you'd choose self-publishing over traditional publishing. I can tell it's worked for you as well.

      That's unfortunate about marketing . . . now I'm wondering what counts as a BIG publishing company. Still, "most" is less than "all."

      Thank you very much for reading my post and commenting with your thoughts. I appreciate it!

      Delete
  10. This is very interesting! I'm not planning on being an author but I get where you come from. I almost never read self published authors *hides in shame*, mostly because I hardly ever KNOW about them. And since I work in advertising, I can assure you your marketing argument is 100% on point :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I do read some self-published authors, but that's mostly because I hear about them through the blogging community (or they have free books sometime . . .). And good to know; thanks!

      Delete