Why Self-Publish?

Why self-publish? It is a question that gets asked a lot. A question that has a huge assumption at the heart of it, it assumes you can simply choose between the traditional publishing route and self-publishing. You can’t. You can choose to submit your work to agents, hope that one of them decides to accept you as a client, hope they can get a publisher to read your work and finally hope that the publisher will (eventually) publish it. There’s a lot of ‘hope’ in that process. If you really want to understand how near-impossible it is to get published traditionally (and to read a far superior post to this about self-publishing) check out ‘The State of Self Publishing’ on the great Hugh Howey’s blog (http://www.hughhowey.com/the-state-of-self-publishing/). Please come back here after you do. Please. Seriously, I need readers.

So, why aren’t I trying the traditional publishing route? Simple answer, I did try and failed. I sent Sovereign Nation, or variations on it depending on their submission guidelines, to dozens of agents. Really, dozens. I got responses back from around one in four. Mostly stock rejection letters, a few took the time to give some feedback (which I did try and integrate into my next draft), but all rejected it. This didn’t leave me with a lot of options in the traditional publishing world.

Self publishing left me with an opportunity to get my work out there that wasn’t available anywhere else. Do my low download figures prove the agents were right to reject my manuscript? Maybe. Then again, I am only just learning about how to promote my books so maybe I can grow my readership over time as I learn to get better at it. Maybe people will like it and encourage others to read more. All of this can take time, something I have when I control my publishing and something the big publishers wouldn’t give me.

But why do it, I hear you ask, if you aren’t going to make tons of money straight away? Simple. I am going to write anyway. I have been writing and creating stories all my life, I am going to continue doing it. Even if I never get more than a couple of downloads of each story I will keep going, because I can’t not keep going. Writing, like photography and archery, is something I do for fun (I must remember this next time I get stuck on a plot). So, if I am going to do it anyway, why not publish it and see if anyone else likes it? I have yet to hear a good argument against that. Would it be nice to have a huge hit and make tons of money so I can live as a writer and not have to try and do a day job? Of course it would! But, if it doesn’t happen, I am going to carry on writing anyway.

Ok, I have only got around three hundred and thirty-ish downloads of the two works I have got out there at the moment – so what? If you had told me five years ago that I would have a finished novel and a novella published online that had been downloaded a combined total of over three hundred times I would not have believed you – and I would have told you I’d be happy just to have one copy downloaded and liked by someone I did not know and was not realted to.

For me the question is not ‘Why self-publish?’, the questions is ‘Why wouldn’t I self-publish?’

10 thoughts on “Why Self-Publish?

  1. Wow! Over 330 downloads on two books! That’s not bad. I recently took a course called Blogging a Book with Nina Amir and she says the average book sells 250 copies a year and 3000 copies over its lifetime, so I decided to go the self-publish route, too. I am not excluding the possibility to traditional publication, but I actually enjoy the self-publishing community. I like discovering blogs like yours, meeting new people, and learning new things. I am blogging my first book because I feel less isolated when I can interact with the blogosphere instead of hoarding away my manuscript until it is suitable for submission. Congratulations on your success!

    1. Thanks for the positive response. It is easy to forget that what look like low sales figures can actually be quite good – oddly enough it is easier to remember the articles about people getting 25,000 downloads ๐Ÿ™‚ A major plus point for self publishing is the generally positive and friendly atmosphere in the community, something traditional publishing doesn’t seem to replicate. I hadn’t thought of blogging a book, it is certainly something I will happily copy from you as an idea if I come up with something that will work well in serialised form.

      1. No problem Nina Amir has a blog and you can also get a digital copy of her book. I learned a lot from her.

  2. Great post. I’m doing a similar series on self-publishing on my own blog, and it’s nice to stumble upon like-minded writers ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m trying to remember why I decided to write in the first place, so I don’t end up discouraged by the numbers (or lack thereof). It’s not about numbers to me, and it’s a real pet-peeve of mine when other indie writers get so worked about them. I worked hard for my modest little readership, and I’m grateful for every single one. I’ve let go of my desire to be famous; writing is my love affair.

    1. It is always good to know the numbers but it should not become an obsession. How many of us first put pen to paper thinking about the numbers? We should write because we want, or need, to write – to me, at least, any audience is a bonus.

      1. I try to stay away from my sales reports like an alcoholic avoids the bar. Some days it’s encouraging to look at them, but that’s not how I define success. Not anymore.

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