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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Self-publishing’s downside

“There’s two sides to every Schwartz. He got the upside; I got the downside.” ~Dark Helmet, Spaceballs
There are a lot of upsides to self-publishing. The author has control over everything: writing, editing, cover design, and marketing. The self-publishing process is typically much faster than traditional publishers, and…there’s no rejection.
Or so it appears.  While you’ll never have to face personal rejection from an editor or publisher, you will have to deal with the stigma of being a self-published author.
“You’re not a good enough writer for a ‘real’ publisher?”
Actually, I am, but that’s not the point.  My point is, aside from struggling to maintain my self-confidence (see last week’s blog Self-publishing is easy…not), the second hardest part of self-publishing is getting people to take me seriously. 
I’ll be the first to admit there are a lot of poorly written self-published books out there. I’ve read a few of them. They weren’t pretty.  There are a lot of hidden gems too, but you have to find readers willing to take a chance.
I think the key to selling more books, for me at least, is getting people to read them.  Reviews are helpful but they take a long time, and many book bloggers will not review self-published books.  For more tips on getting reviews, see 10 Tips for Querying Book Bloggers.  So I have to make my books available to readers in as many places as I can find.  I have excerpts posted on Facebook, Worthy of Publishing, Amazon, and here on my blog. Barnes & Noble and Smashwords allow readers to download samples.  I am also conducting a giveaway promotion on Twitter.
So if you’re feeling adventurous, read one of the excerpts above (the one on my blog is really hot). You just might discover a self-published gem.
Authors: how do you get your book to readers? Where do you post excerpts? Feel free to post a link. May the Schwartz be with you!


  1. Hey Amelia,
    I've just come off the back-end of a crazy virus which slapped me with a fever that made me hotter than Fabio. Anyway, the drugs should have worn off by now so hopefully I'll be making some sort of sense while I write this comment:)
    Self-publishing IS a double edged sword, but I think that with time one of those edges may blunt a little.
    Entry to traditional publishers through the "gatekeepers" known to us as the all powerful agents, is hard and always will be, just due to the fact that more and more people want to become writers. The deluge of manuscripts they get for every genre gives them the ability to "draw the line in the sand" ("Cross this line, you die":). But I believe they are taking notice of the quality that is floating up through the sea of self publishers out there. Granted, it's a slow process, and I haven't tried it myself so I am only writing from second hand experince gathered from cats like yourself. But you can see from the chatter on agents blogs, that they are noticing the few self publishers that are making money. And you can guarentee that the people who are making money are suddenly being contacted by the same hard nosed agents who are most likely hitting the recovery buttons on their laptops looking for the rejected submissions. If this trend continues, I belive that agents will also begin (if they haven't already) to start fishing through the waters of the self publishers to see who's been making waves. The self publishing fields will be used as another method for agents and publishers to find the next big thing.
    It's true that there is a reason why many, many writers will only ever self publish, because there is alot of stuff floating out there, where the homework just hasn't been done, but this thing is still just getting onto its feet, and the good writers like yourself will clearly shine above the crap that sinks to the bottom.
    Sure at the moment you have to do alot of groundwork making yourself accessable to your potential audience, but it's all about exposure (that's come out sooo wrong hasn't it?:). By the way, I for one won't accept any freebies from you, because I want to support your journey to success by buying your work.
    Embrace the suck:)

  2. Lack of extensive physical distribution is another downside to self-publishing (i.e. on the shelves, etc.), but I think the benefits outweigh it all.

    To answer your question, we get our books to readers a number of ways:

    1. Take them on the road. My husband and I traveled 19,000 miles from one end of the continent and back (a few times) going to book stores and events in a fancifully decorated RV to promote our book.
    2. Blog Tours. Much less time and expense.
    3. Blogging. Keeping new content that serves the reading first coming out several times a week.
    4. Social Networking. Twitter/Facebook, etc.
    5. Giving away free books (esp. eBooks). I'm doing a STEAL MY BOOK special at the moment.
    6. Free short fiction.