Dramaquill's All Things Writing

July 26, 2008

Self publishing – it’s not for everyone!

Okay, I’ll say right out that I’m probably going to get a lot of comments on this post and I’m prepared for that.  But before you comment remember this:  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion!

I’m just flabbergasted at the growing number of authors who have decided to self-publish.  Now, before you get defensive, let me clarify that I mean the number of fiction authors. 

I totally get that doing a POD book or an ebook that’s an information guide might be a more lucrative way to go for some non-fiction subject matter.  I also understand that some writers may only want to make a few copies of a book for family and friends for a special occasion and self-publishing allows them to do that.

I don’t have anything against POD technology or self-publishing per se.

What I don’t understand is why any author who’s truly stoked about his/her novel being published and available in bookstores would choose to self-publish.  So many vanity press companies have such bad reputations (we’ve all read the countless complaints about Publish America).  And major booksellers won’t stock self-published or POD books.

I know what you’re thinking.  It takes forever to go down the traditional path.  You don’t have to tell me – I know!

I’ve been slugging it out as a writer for many years and started seriously submitting about seven or eight years ago.  It’s frustrating as hell to wait for six months or longer to hear back from a publisher. 

But as I stare at my folder filled with rejection letters, I can’t help but notice a pattern.  More often than not my rejections now come with short, personal notes.  A rejection’s still a rejection but seeing something like “cute story, great character, unfortunately we’ve recently published something similar” tells me that my kidlit PBs aren’t always getting passed by because they aren’t good.  Sometimes it’s just bad timing.

I’ve managed to publish enough magazine clips, both in kidlit publications and also some NF, that I do feel that I’m making headway.  A recent acceptance by Writer’s Digest for an article in an upcoming market book keeps me hopeful that with each rejection, I continue to work harder on making my writing stronger and that it’s only a matter of time.

Nope – I haven’t broken either the kidlit PB market or the adult suspense genre but I’m not willing to feel like a sell-out by self publishing.

Okay, before you throw daggers in my direction, I know that self-publishing isn’t always a sell-out.  But there are a lot of really bad self-published books out there – badly written and badly edited.  I don’t want my book lumped in with those.  Also, these vanity presses charge the author a lot of money and often the quality of the finished product is terrible.  (I have heard positive exceptions regarding the quality of Booklocker.com and Lulu.com)

My philosophy is simple:  If it’s meant to happen for me, it will.

I’m doing the groundwork:

  • researching publishers and agents
  • following the specific guidelines when submitting
  • only sending my very best work
  • getting my work critiqued before subbing it out
  • editing and revising
  • researching the markets
  • making contacts at conferences and online
  • honing my craft
  • never giving up

Will I change my mind one day?

Never say never, but I doubt it!

Self publishing is not for everyone and I really believe it’s not for me.


  1. I agree self-publishing is not for everyone and applaud your dedication to writing, but you appear to consider “vanity and subsidy publishers” to be self-publishing” companies. Frankly, there is no such thing as a “self publishing company.” Either one is a self-publisher or gets to market some other way (via traditional publishers or vanity publishers). Many backlist books now found in bookstores are digitally printed (which has nothing to do with the “POD” concept). Unfortunately, many in the vanity press world deliberately misuse terms to exploit first time self publishers. There’s also no such thing as a “POD Self Publishing Company.” POD is not even a printing process, but a production strategy. Digital printing is now used by
    all types of publishers including the majors, and you’re wise to grasp that self published fiction (no matter how it’s printed) is extremely difficult to market and sell.
    Best of luck in the future!

    Comment by Hugh Griffin — July 30, 2008 @ 4:04 PM | Reply

  2. Hi Hugh:

    Thanks for stopping by.

    What I’m referring to as “self-publishing” is paying to have your book published rather than actually being accepted by a traditional publisher.

    Let’s face it, there are a lot of writers out there who are cranking out books and paying to have them printed up.
    They aren’t being edited (or as in the case of several writers I know, being edited very poorly by Publish America) and the books would not likely be published if they didn’t do it themselves (with the help of these vanity presses).

    I know there are lots of crappy books published by traditional companies too, but the odds are that the traditional guys have way way way more good books than the select few that might go through a vanity press.

    Enjoyed your comments and best of luck to you, too.

    Comment by dramaquill — July 31, 2008 @ 3:23 PM | Reply

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