Self-publishing – Pros and Cons

Self-Publishing – Poverty or Opportunity?
by Mr. Lynn Carroll, tutor at Creative Writing Institute

When you consider self-publishing, consider these things:

1. How hard it is to make an e-market platform (unbelievably difficult if you aren’t already established)
2. Good and bad writers are all piled in the same e-market lump. If you’re not a top-notch writer, this is a good place for you, but if you are, you’ll have to fight to hold your ground.

Some readers will be smart enough to look for award-winning writers first, as that is the only way to sort the meaty from the wordy. Others won’t care. They’ll read almost anything.

Seasoned writers that have earned their stripes the hard way have a right to view self-publishers as upstarts who bypass the hard work of learning the craft. By in large, (but not completely, by any means), the new self-publishing crowd is the generation that texts while they brush their teeth and could care less about correct punctuation. They have no time to fret over wordiness, proper spelling, comma usage, capital letters, and other such trivia.

It’s sad to see literature go the way of the fast food market. I shudder to think of the Bible, a beautifully written book of prose and poetry, rewritten in the unedited world of e-books.

Success is gauged in how many units they can sell. Self-publishing is the fastest growing method of publishing. The industry is pulling in millions of dollars, saving trees, reducing bulk, storage space, postage, ink, and everything else – but is it a good thing? Fortunately, it’s a self-policing business. Those that are horrible writers will sell very little. Those that produce a good product might make some money. In the end, the best marketers will come out on top, regardless of their product.

I have yet to do a study of what it is that makes e-mags and e-books so popular to the readers (other than ease of access and articles and books that can be read in one sitting), but I do understand why it’s so popular with the authors.

I’m a hard-nosed editor from the old school. I teach students to use correct grammar and punctuation. I confess to having a definite bias. I still believe that new authors should earn their stripes before being afforded the luxury of such publicity.

Despite the fears of some traditionalists, I don’t think self-publishers will replace the conventional publishers, just as McDonald’s didn’t replace traditional restaurants. In the end, the market will sort itself out and there will be ways to locate the good and the bad. Each will have its own place in the grand scheme.

Today’s savvy writer will have to adjust to new ways in order to survive, but thing about this – suppose all the world knowledge goes to computers and idiots hack the database? Sorry. You’ll find me at the antiquated library.

Where do you stand on self-publishing? Do you see it as a threat?

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21 thoughts on “Self-publishing – Pros and Cons

  1. I agree that self-publishing is no threat to the traditional route of publication and that it is just another way to get published. I do think that self-publishing is better than being duped by the vanity press scam artists. At least you aren’t paying large sums of money to get garbage published and end up with a garage full of nice looking books that won’t sell for a nickel. Yes, there is a place for self-published work and more power to those who are successful.

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    1. I agree, but let’s remember that self-publishing isn’t free. One well known self-publisher pays $1,000 for art work, book cover, etc., and he feels it’s worth the money. It probably is. A book STILL sells by its cover!

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  2. You’re right, I don’t suppot self-publishing because of the same reasons. You need to fight to become someone important, and if it’s difficult with a literary agent, I can’t imagine how will it be doing everything by yourself.
    It isn’t easy to find a good writer there, because there’s a mixture of good and non-talented writers, looking like a greasy sandwich.
    I think that if you’re a good writer, you have no need to self-publish your own books, because there’ll be someone who will help you sooner or later.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I see it both ways. Writers absolutely MUST be adaptable, but good writers will be able to find publication in the traditional market. Good point. I suppose I will self-pub in small areas, such as ebooks and free material, but I have to prove to myself that I can make it with the big boys, so I’ll be starting my book next month. I’m starting to feel a mixture of dread and excitement that comes out as one word – tantalizing. Kind of like the way I felt the first time I jumped off a diving board, so big pond, here I come!

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  3. Lynn, this topic you wrote inspired a suggestion ;~ why not self publish a book on the right ( write ) way to write a book? win-win lol
    think of all the students !!!!! lol

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  4. Thank-you Deb ! I want an autographed copy of your first novel ! ( pretty please?) Your Blogs are awsome ! Im so honored to have you and Lynn as my mentors.
    Hugs !

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    1. Guess what my first novel is about. One would naturally think it’s about writing, but it isn’t. It will the The Comprehensive Manual on How to Live Full-Time in an RV. Still want a copy? lol Come to think of it, you own a campground. Maybe you can sell some for me there! You’re so fun! Deb

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      1. REALY?!!! WOW – Sure fire hit honey. Truly a best seller, so many are learning the hard way, you could help, and yes I will sell a ton for you ! Think of all the RV mags that would promote you ! Great and awsome idea!!

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        1. Listen to this – our last 6-wk. vacation in our RV cost a total of $250 for diesel and electricity. We never count our food since we have to buy food wherever we are. Tips and tricks galore coming in my new book. Happy day!

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            1. As in – you really didn’t want it before? LOL Just kidding. Know what you mean. There are several ways to travel like that. In that particular case, we traveled slow and not very far. My husband cut grass for the campground for a few hours (riding mower – he loves to cut grass).

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              1. How about a live e-book/ hard cover with a cd incert ? LOL
                weed-feed-fertilize- A budjet Saving RV Holiday !
                The possibilities are endless ! AND dont forget to include how to make a wedding cake RV style! Betty Crocker would envy the RV super catering idea !

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  5. Well now…. As a young upstart and student with great aspirations, here is my humble opinion on this topic:

    In the self publishing industry, Allot of the popularity has to do with control and profit to the author. In the world of self publishing you can print and market as many or as little as you like, create an e- book, paperback or hard cover and reach millions instantly. The majority of the profit goes to the author, unlike getting a book deal through a publisher. This is a huge draw to self publishing enthusiasts. Most of us humans hate rejection, and this is also another reason why folks use this forum. To have an uninterrupted voice to the world.

    Many a good story by accomplished writers has sadly been taken advantage of in the book publishing industry. A famous book in my neck of the woods called `Ruffles in my Long-Johns` a true story about a woman’s adventures in the Yukon as a green- horn, never saw a dime of profit for her story. She has now passed, however the publisher continues to receive thousands of dollars of profits from this popular book by a woman who wanted just to tell her story and was sadly taken advantage of.
    In another circumstance, my Girlfriend did a book deal with her personal story called `The Gang Ranch`
    Huge success….. For the publisher. It was a nightmare. She now owns her own publishing company and the profits go to her. A hard & expensive lesson learned.
    As to my humble opinion, Nothing can compare to a real good novel from the library or store ( one of the few things left that wont expose you to radiation, headaches and computer related god knows what)
    As popular as self publishing is, it will never replace the `Real Deal` the difference between going to the store and buying a new dress, compared to ordering one on line. It doesn’t feel as good, and it probably won’t fit!

    I’m Switzerland on this topic, I like both ideas!

    The Young Upstart…lol

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    1. You have keenly covered all sides of the topic. We need to publish an article on contracts sometime, because that’s where your friends slipped up. My son sold a book and he negotiated with them over movie rights, since he hopes to see it in a movie someday. That is but one of the many things a novelist needs to consider.

      Like you and Janie, I will self-publish one day, but for my own satisfaction, I’ll start my first novel next month and go the traditional route with it. For one thing, it will give me a step up the professional ladder that self-publishing won’t, and for another, I have to prove to myself that I can practice what I teach. It’s time and past time to do this.

      Thanks for your comments, Tammy. Good job! Deb

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  6. Only a fool would try to stop a locomotive, but learning the ins and outs of the new industry will be tricky. Nothing is set in stone yet. Without a doubt, today’s writer must be acquainted with the self-publishing process, but it saddens me to see that thus far there is no established method to find the best material. How do we judge what we read an e-book without buying it first (other than word of mouth or advertising)? I think the future will bring a system based on something other than sales. One thing is for sure, the little ducks are in the puddle now and the big ducks better get smart – fast. Thanks for stopping by, Janie.

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  7. I do not see self-publishing as a threat at all. I see it as just another step in the evolution of writing. Yes, there are some self-published books out there that are full of grammatical errors, but there are also many that are not. I self-publish, I also teach grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I believe in the process of writing and I believe in doing it the right way. I agree with you that self-publishing will not replace traditional publishing, but it definitely has its place.

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