Why I’m Not Self-Publishing . . . And Might Someday

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By Anne Garboczi Evans

I’ve been writing full-length novels for 12 years now and seriously submitting book proposals to the traditional powers-that-be for the last four years. Recently, I joined a self-publishing authors group on Facebook. And can I say, I’m drooling.

These authors talk of finishing a book and publishing it the next week. They mention putting out 15 books in a year and their 25 books on Amazon. Many of them are making quite decent money too. And here I am, sitting on my couch, staring at a laptop full of finished, unpublished manuscripts. “So why don’t you just self-publish?” many people have asked me.

This is why. First, funding. While some self-publishing packages for e-book only may even be free, a self-publishing option that includes print books and provides a great editor and an excellent sales team could easily cost you $5,000-15,000. I just don’t have that kind of money on hand, and if I did, it would go to the mortgage, not a self-publishing gig. Second, those editors I was talking about. When you pay 5,000+ to self-publish, a lot of that money goes to your editor.

In a traditional publishing house, the editor is extremely critical because, if your book doesn’t turn out good enough to sell prolifically, the publishing house is out money. Your self-publishing editor has no such incentive to tear your book to shreds. Besides, you’re the customer. If the editor is too critical of your book, you might walk away and hire someone else. Someday when I’ve published multiple bestsellers, I’ll be confident enough in my writing to want such an editor. Right now, I want an editor who will make my manuscript bleed red ink. Third, prestige. A self-publishing company executive at a writers’ conference I attended called traditional publishers the new “vanity presses.” His reasoning was, everyone wants that traditional publisher label on their manuscript even if the traditional publisher turns out junk books. The reason I want the prestige of a traditional publisher isn’t vanity (I hope 😉 ).

Rather, I want that prestige to help build my author platform. When I’m a best-selling author, I’ll have credibility in my own right. For now though, I’d like to feed off a traditional publisher’s credibility. So far I’ve dwelt on the negatives of self-publishing, but there are some spectacular advantages too. Many traditional houses only put out one of an author’s books per year. Putting out three or four books a year not only makes you more money, but keeps your name fresh in readers’ minds.

I recently read an article about a woman who published with a Big 6 New York publisher every year, but also self-published on the side. The New York publisher’s annual releases gave her a prestige that kept the self-published books flying off the shelf. The self-published books earned her a pretty penny above what she was getting in her New York royalty checks. I think this author has combined the best of both worlds. So someday when I’ve had a few years of Big 6 publishing successes and paychecks, maybe I’ll try some self-published books on the side. (I especially have my eyes on Indie for an Ancient Rome Series I wrote that I know I’d never convince a traditional publishing editor to buy.) Until then, you can look for me buried under that pile of rejection letters on my couch.

Writing Prompt: Have you or could you ever see yourself self-published? Share some of the pros and cons self-publishing would have for you. Is there any particular book you’ve written that you think would fit well into the self-publishing world? https://www.facebook.com/annegarboczievans