Publishing Choices For Writers – Self Publishing, Part One

As discussed in other articles in this series, the act of publishing comes in two basic forms- traditional and self-publishing. While traditional publishing is pretty straight forward in that the author exchanges their rights and control over their work for money, over the years and with the advent of new technology, a myriad of different ways to self-publish have evolved such that now, traditional publishers are having to change their business models to reflect these changes in order to stay in the publishing game. The publishing industry, including traditional publishers, have had to undergone a paradigm shift in order to keep up with the times and the advent of the many different types of self-publishing.

Self-publishing is really a generic word for any work not published by a traditional publisher. In the past, the term self-publishing was always looked at pejoratively. Traditional publishers, reviewers and critics looked down their noses at these self-publishers, primarily because there was no editorial screen of the work prior to publishing. Therefore, there was no control over the quality of the work published. As a result, a lot of work was published that was trash, both in style and content, bringing the bad reputation to self-publishing.

However, because of this paradigm shift in the publishing world, self-publishing has gained a modem of respectability while still retaining some of the same negativity. (Actually, there have been many famous authors who self-published at one time in their careers, e.g., Ulysses, by James Joyce; The Adventures of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter; A Time to Kill, by John Grisham and of course Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson who were laughed at during their self-published lives and loved by all after their deaths). While there are some purists who will always believe that you have to be published by someone else, in truth, the publishing industry is evolving. Writers are choosing to self-publish great writing. People who might never have had the opportunity can now become a published author. And that is a good thing if you are a writer.

At the very basic level of self-publishing, which is commonly referred to as True Self-Publishing, an author is in charge of doing everything themselves including starting their own publishing company to publishing their book. The author is responsible for the content of the book, the editing, the content editing, the cover design, ISBN, copyrights and the printing. Once printed, the author is responsible for the storage, marketing, sales, distribution and any other aspect of publishing their book.

With this kind of self-publishing, an author will not get an advance against future royalties. In fact, the author will find they have to invest their own money, generally thousands of dollars for all the different services. Unless the author knows every aspect of the publishing business, they will have to hire editors, copy editors, designers, printers, and marketers for their book. And of course, the author takes on all the risks of not having a successful title.

Finally, a self-published author is not likely to be reviewed by the mainstream nor carried by distributors. This relates to the negative stigma attached to self-publishing, i.e., that it is only for those authors who can not get their work in print otherwise. Although now some reviewers are recognizing self-publishers as being great contributors to our world of literature, it is still rare that a self-published work is even given a chance to be reviewed.

These are basically the cons of self-publishing, although not everything is negative. In Part Two, I will discuss the positive aspects of an author publishing on their own and why it may be the right option for an author to take.

Candace C. Davenport is a retired attorney and published author whose love of writing led to co-founding a small independent publishing company, Our Little Books. Our Little Books ( ) is dedicated to publishing inspirational, educational and fun little books for pocket or purse. Candace encourages all people to find their inner muse and become published authors with their own little book, either for pleasure or for their business. Sign up for a free report on how Becoming a Published Author Will Improve Your Credibility and Make You an Expert in Your Field at Enjoy!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *