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Should You Self Publish a Book?

By / April 13, 2009 / no comments

You’ve written that brain child and want to gain recognition as a writer. Should you go the self publishing route?

Every writer has probably faced this question at some point. In the modern age, self-publishing is becoming easier and easier. Why spend all the work sending off a manuscript after manuscript only to get rejection after rejection. I mean, it’s simply easier to write your novel then send it off to a vanity press and get your novel instantly published…for a price. Or you can opt for the many online self publishing services. These services will even put the book onto an online store so you can start reaping instant profits. They practically promise your literary and commercial sucess should you go ahead and pay them to publish your novel. So should you go the self publishing route?

No, I do not feel this is the path you should take, should you wish to be a “Writer.” There are two types of writers out there: writers and published writers. If you want to be the former, by all means self publish. But all the “real” writers are published. Real writers have readership. Sorry if that stings, but it’s the bare truth.

Now, there two types of self-publishers out there. The first type are those who want to create a vanity project, with no aspirations of readership or literary success. You can probably throw in those who write a book that has no chance of being picked up by a major publisher because the book has low salability — it’s eclectic or some sub genre that won’t attract to much readership. If this is these are case, then self publishing may work for you. The other type of self publisher are those who want to gain commercial/literary success with their writing but aren’t willing to put the work in to get published.

Now, sorry if this sounds rude, but I feel this is absolutely true. Oh, I’m not saying that these types don’t spend the time to write a book to the best of their abilities. But these types are unwilling to endure the growing pains of becoming a Writer – growing pains that include constant publisher rejections, rewrite after rewrite, and years of writing without seeing any tangible results.

If you are considering self publishing and want to be a Writer, with the capital sense of the word, then don’t self publish – you are shooting yourself in the foot. The problem with self-publishing is that many writers want an easy path to becoming a Writer. That’s fine. But like anything in life, most things worth having or achieving take some god-honest work. In life, there are no shortcuts – this applies to writing as well. I know there are many writer types out there that feel going the published route is giving into the “Man”, that true artistic merit cannot be judged, blah blah blah. These types of self-published authors remind me of those kids who show up on the American idol auditions with delusions of their singing prowess. They are only fooling themselves.

Now, I’m not trying to offend self-published authors here. I’m just stating the facts of how it looks from my side of the fence. Many self-published authors absolutely believe self publishing is a path—or an easier path–to commercial or literary success. I am simply stating in my experience, it’s not and it will probably lead to a dead end or at least delusions of success. What’s the difference between unpublished authors and self-published authors? A string of rejection letters over the years and a hell of a lot more hard work on the part of the published author. Most published authors out there have a plethora of publishing rejections under their belt. They use each successive rejection to improve their writing and storytelling abilities until they get to the “publishable” level. This can take years, maybe even ten years, of single minded dedication.

If you think that simply having a book that you can feel in your hands instantly puts you on equal footing prose-wise or storytelling-wise with writers who have spent years getting rejections by professional editors and using those rejections to improve their writing craft, think again. Any self-publishing website that tell you otherwise is flat out lying.

Now I know there are those lucky few that don’t go through all these hurdles, but these are an exception to the rule. Most published authors can list off a litany of publishing rejections – for writers it’s some what of a in joke to list their battle scar rejections.

But ironically it’s these rejections that help you to get published. There is a lot to say having a pro editor look over your work and offer critiques with the rejection – these rejections and critiques help the writer improve their prose and storytelling, and make each new book effort more likely to meet with success.

Now, if you want to self publish and you know what you are getting into, I truly wish you the best. I’m sure there are many good reasons for doing so, and I am sure they are all valid ones. But if you want to find commercial success and gain a readership as well as social respect, consistently self publishing books is not the way to go — indeed, self publishing your books may only be stunting your growth as a writer. As an experiment while honing your writing chops, sure. But if you want to be a writer with readers, no. If you want to go the self-publishing route, by all means, self-publish away, but make sure you at least understand exactly what you are doing when you do so.

About the author

Ben

Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!

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