Playing “devil’s advocate” for a change, I must concur with many critics of self-publishing when it comes to the subject of easy access for amateurs as well as talented rebels and independent-minded professionals dissatisfied with an unfair system.
The fact that anyone, anywhere, can now “publish a book” – even it’s basically just a glorified, long-winded Facebook status rant - and promote it in the worldwide marketplace alongside the works of legitimate authors.
Now, as someone that actually prefers self-publishing over traditional publishing after years pursuing both paths, I may not be in the best position to either support the argument for going it alone, or against it. I’ve tried both, and frankly when it comes to small presses, I don’t see much difference from a strictly logistical standpoint.
My own reasons for self-publishing have been well documented. I’ve also written blogs both in favor of it, and blogs detailing the many drawbacks.
But before you even make that decision, ask yourself the following questions. Only you can answer them with complete honesty:
Did you write this book to be read by paying customers, or just to make yourself feel better?
That’s The Big One, because when you promote something your wrote as a product for sale, not just an embittered or even thoughtful social media post anyone is free to consume or ignore without dropping a cent, you assume responsibility for its viability. Which leads directly to the next question in this self-interrogation…
Is this a book you would buy and read yourself?
I’ve always suggested writing not just what you know, but what you love, and readers that share your sensibilities will respond accordingly. But if your book is more like venting a personal vendetta than a socially engaging and even enlightening piece of carefully crafted literature, then you need to step back, rest your brain, slow down your beating heart, and let your boiling blood cool a bit before proceeding.
Has this book been “vetted” by anyone other than yourself?
I’ve often strongly suggested the free employment of “beta readers” for your manuscript if you can’t afford professional freelance editors. Run your story by someone whose tastes you respect and trust before hoisting it on an unsuspecting general audience.
If this your first book, and if so, why does it deserve publication? If you’re a novice, you need to be very, very careful about publishing a work that may not only require more polishing, but doesn’t adequately represent your true talent. Because first impressions not only count, but are often hard to walk back, even if your second book would’ve otherwise been hailed as a masterpiece. Too late. The damage to your burgeoning reputation has been done, and the fatal wound was self-inflicted.
I have a stack of full-length, typewritten (yes, I’ve been doing this for that long) manuscripts that will never see the light of day, because I don’t consider them worthy of my overall body of published work. I have “plagiarized” the parts of them I deemed acceptable for books that are out there, though.
No good work needs to go to waste, even if it's ultimately chalked up to self-education. Just don’t waste your own potential in the rush to publish.