To Self-Publish or not to Self-Publish

I spent years working on my first novel, but after careful consideration, have put it aside for a while to work on other projects.  With that said, I started another piece.  This piece was designed to be a short story that I wanted to self-publish; however, somehow it has morphed into a novella.  (It is a young adult fantasy story, and I’ve already plotted the series.)

This project has moved faster than I expected, and soon I will be facing a completed novella.  I am very excited for this next step, but I’m terrified at the same time.  This next step is unfamiliar territory to me.  Instead of being a writer, using my skill to create a whole new world, I’ll become a marketer.  I am not a marketer.

Part of me likes the idea of finding an agent and a publishing company, because they’ll have expertise that I lack, but part of me worries about losing control over my novel.  When I first started writing, I assumed the strength of working with a publishing company was that they would put the time and money into marketing my novel for me, but my innocent eyes have been opened since then.  It seems even exceptional novels can be published through a publishing company, while the marketing is still left up to the writer.  But is this the norm?  Are we as writers expected to know how to sell our novels?

And then there is self-publishing.  With a bit of research, and talking to writers with more experienced than myself, I see the ease through which we can self-publish.  Anyone, it seems, can publish their work.  They can have the control of designing their own cover, choosing their date to publish, and monitoring their sales.  But self-publishing comes with an equal risk, that no one will read your work unless you market your book properly.

I’m new to the world of publishing, unfamiliar with its secrets, but I hope that when the time comes, I make the right decision.  And although I might be wrong, it seems clear to me that I will need to learn to be a marketing expert if I have any hope of making it in the writing world.  What are your thoughts?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of self-publishing verses traditional publishing?


About lisamorrowbooks

Lisa Morrow is a life-long reader who treasures fantasy in all forms. Being a middle child in a large family gave her a unique perspective on the world, but few experiences compare to her time spent studying abroad in Cambridge, England and wandering throughout Europe. After her travels, Lisa settled down in Arizona to teach junior high English, and later, to spend time with her young children, husband, and cats. To some people, her life may seem quiet. But to her, every day is spent in a world colored by the imagination of children, and fantastical worlds created by her very own mind.
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2 Responses to To Self-Publish or not to Self-Publish

  1. Thanks for the great response, and I don’t mind long responses! 🙂 You made some really excellent points. It’s good to hear that publishing companies do have resources that self-publishing don’t have access to, and that some are still willing to take those extra steps to help their writers succeed.

  2. forgingshadows says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head here when you said, “Anyone can self-publish.” Of course, while that makes things easier for you, it also makes things easier for people who haven’t spent a lot of time carefully crafting their world, perfecting their technique and agonizing over publishing and marketing. So of course, the market has been flooded with sub-par books. So many sub-par books that most people won’t attempt to dredge the depths for works of real merit. My largest fear in the world of self-publishing has always been that if I do it, I’ll attract a negative stigma and the piece that I slaved over for years will end up at the bottom of some long list of inconsequential, self-published novels that no one has ever bothered to look at.

    In the world of traditional publishing, you will have to do some publishing via twitter, blog, etc., but the publishing company has access to a lot of other markets. Reviewers with bigger followings, magazines/newspapers, and so on. I’m no expert but this is what I’ve found while bumming around the publishing world.

    If you’re uncertain about marketing your work, I would say – don’t self-publish. So many books are self-published that in order to stay on top and make sure that people even know your book exists, you’re going to have to do a LOT of marketing.

    This was a long reply. Sorry about that. But good luck with your work and when it is published (traditionally or otherwise), drop me a line and I’ll come take a look at it.

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