Self Publishing or Not

Vanity publishing and self-publishing used to have a negative reputation. It was thought that to be a “true” writer that your work would be published by a publishing house.  The line has blurred somewhat now.  There are more and more options available for self-publishing today. And with the internet, social media and so on, the opportunities to publicise your own work are greater.  There are authors out there who have started by self publishing, but have then achieved a publishing deal. But there are also authors out there who have been successful in self publishing.

Some famous self publishers –

• Rudyard Kipling
• Margaret Attwood
• Ernest Hemingway
• Edgar Allen Poe
• George Bernard Shaw
• Leo Tolstoy
• Marcel Proust
• William Blake
• T.S. Eliot
• Alexander Dumas

Modern day self publishers include John Locke, who has sold over a million eBooks.  Zane Grey and Deepak Chopra have also recently self published.

So self publishing is now something that authors can perhaps consider. BUT when deciding to self-publish, you should be aware that the work you should produce should be as a high standard as you would expect if you were publishing through a publishing house. If you write a shoddy book, it is unlikely a reader will buy your next book.  If you write a shoddy book, readers may write online reviews, so other people may not buy your book. So it is important to check and recheck spellings, grammar and so on, that your story flows, all the editing you would do otherwise, to ensure that your self published book is of good quality.

Distributing & Selling your Work

How you sell and distribute your work will really depend on how your work is published. If you work is published by a publishers, then they will undertake much of the distribution work.  But you may involved in selling the work through book signings, interviews, press releases and so on.

If you self publish, you will be involved in distribution and selling of your work.

– Once your work is published, then you have to distribute your work.  How you do this will depend on how much time and effort you are prepared to put in. Some examples –

  • Ask local bookstores to sell your work.
  • Advertising your book for sale online.
  • Put your work on an online bookstore.
  • Mail order selling of your books.

Which method you choose will affect how much effort you require on the distribution.  Once you have considered the distribution method, then you need to consider the selling of your work. How are you going to promote it?

You might consider –

  • Blogs – writing blogs and articles promoting your work
  • Social media – posting about your work and linking to where it can be purchased
  • Book signings
  • Paid advertising online and in magazines, newspapers etc
  • Press releases 
  • Attending book fairs and other shows selling your books

Again, this can require a lot of effort, so again will depend on how much time you have available for this.

Grants for Writing

Occasionally grants can be available for writing. It can be time consuming to obtain grants and there is often a lot of competition.  It is best to research grants available in your own country or state as there may be residential requirements, for example, only authors living in the UK or Australia or America and so on.

Getting A Contract

The increase of self-publishes has also occurred at the same time as a reduction in the number of authors who get contracts for their work.  We hear about authors, such as J.K. Rowling, who are offered large advances for their work, but the number of authors this happens to is minute compared to the amount of people who are actually write. 

To obtain a contract, you obviously have to send your work to publishers. With a new writers, it is best to try to complete the whole book before sending in your work. Publishers may ask to see the first three chapters of a book or x number of pages of a script, but if they are interested and your book is complete, you can quickly back up this with the whole book. 

When sending in your work to a publisher ALWAYS check the submission requirements. It is no good sending a horror manuscript to a publishers who only publish romance novels. So do your research.

Send your work to one publisher at a time unless they say multiple submissions are acceptable.  It is etiquette to send it to one publishers, then if they say no, send on to another publishers and so on. 

Make sure that the manuscript is well presented, with good spelling and grammar. It is easy for a publisher to say no simply because your work is scruffy and badly written. 

You may also approach a literary agent. A literary agent will approach publishers on your behalf. They will take a cut of your royalties if your work is published, but a good agent will have contacts in the literary world and know who to contact with your book. So gaining an agent can be a good idea. Some publishers will only deal with literary agents.

Become a Writer

We have given you a lot to chew on. There are no right answers in how you write, what you write and how you publish. This is something for you to decide, so whatever you decide, give it careful thought and have the discipline and determination to carry it through.

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