Thursday, June 9, 2016

Should You Self-Publish?

The question comes up often, especially from writers who:

·         Have not been published.
·         Can’t find a literary agent.
·         Are in a rush to get a book out.
·         Want to retain editorial control.
·         Want to collect the lion’s share of revenue and not a royalty.
·         Need something to showcase to publishers.

Self-publishing makes sense for any number of reasons.  It seems to be utilized by people at all levels, from first-time authors looking to make a name for themselves when no one else will give them a shot, to well-established authors who find a publisher doesn’t really offer them much, especially if they have an established brand and pipeline for sales.

Technology made self-publishing feasible and affordable.  Book publishing, as an industry, pushed many authors to self-publish when they rejected them, or worse, published them but did little to support their books.

The question is not:  Should you self-publish?  But rather, when should you self-publish?  The answers could be “yes” and “often.”

Traditional publishing benefits people in many ways:

·         The publisher takes care of the details regarding printing, shipping, etc.
·         The publisher’s name helps get better distribution.
·         The media is more open to publisher-produced books.
·         They can help sell foreign rights, movie rights, audio, etc.
·         They are professionals at editing, cover-design, and title development
·         They understand the book market, from libraries and bookstores to special sales and events.
·         They may offer some PR support.

I think self-publishing makes sense when authors use their book as a calling card for a business.  If you are a consultant, speaker, or a professional with clients, self-publishing gives you a product to sell and the book can become a lead generator.  Some might want the perceived credibility that comes with having a brand label on their book from a traditional publisher, and that could be of value too.

I also think self-publishing for a first-time novelist makes sense.  He or she needs to prove their work has a market.  By self-publishing and promoting your book, you can show publishers you’d be a worthy investment.  On the other hand, if you really break through, you may not see a need to hand over the profits to a publisher unless it promises to deliver something you feel couldn’t happen otherwise.

If you self-publish, consider going beyond the POD model of CreateSpace or Ingram Spark.  I think you should print up copies, get a distributor, and hire a publicist and a professional editor and cover designer.  Do it right and make the investment to position not just this book but your whole writing career for success.

I guess I should also note that self-publishing is great if writing is not a serious commercial venture for you.  If you want to write as a hobby or to publish your legacy memoir for your family or you want to portfolio publish, essays poems, art, photos, etc,, be my guest.

Self-publishing could be for you or anyone, depending on the circumstances.  I would neither rule it out automatically nor default to it with absolute certainty.  Like most things in life, it depends on when to utilize this option.

There are many, many people who successfully self-published, producing books that lead to book and movie deals, job offers, and tons of media coverage.  But they represent less than 1% of all self -published books.  Be willing to experiment or take the plunge, but do so knowing that it’s not right or wrong for anyone.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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