Many new authors choose to self-publish their writing. Oftentimes, this comes about for two reasons:
- A lack of confidence in their own writing’s ability to be published.
- A lack of knowledge of how to get their writing published.
However, some writers prefer to self-publish in order to get rid of the middleman. I understand that sentiment; however, I caution against publishing with a vanity press or through Amazon or Smashwords unless a writer is willing to put the money, time, and extreme effort into making the endeavor worth their while, or alternatively, if they have ties to individuals of influence/a large platform.
The reality is that for most writers who self-publish, no one will read your writing, and you will make virtually no money from your self-published book. Without the reputation and marketing that comes with a publishing house, amidst a sea of self-published material, your work will languish in complete obscurity. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.
For this reason, I urge many writers to have their writing edited to a publishable standard and then partner with a skilled published consultant. Without those two things, many talented writers will simply never get their start, unless they are willing to devote countless hours doing the job themselves, which often will still produce futile results.
Even with all the challenges for most individuals, I absolutely advocate self-publishing in two, and only two, specific circumstances:
- You have a large platform. You may never have published even a single poem or short story in your life, but if you have achieved a great deal in some other sphere of influence and people recognize your name, then choosing to self-publish your writing isn’t such a bad idea. With a little bit of marketing, you can still have self-publishing reap results, often more than if you choose to publish via the traditional route.
- You have “true believers” who have large platforms. Do you have family, friends, coworkers, business partners, spouses, or others in your life who think your writing is stellar? Do they have large networks? Are they willing to spread the word and help you out? If so, you should consider self-publishing.
While writing anything to completion in and of itself is an accomplishment, for many writers that isn’t enough. All writers want their work to be read. Additionally, writing a novel or other long work is a serious time consideration. Time is money, and most anyone would love a return on the investment of their time. While, of course, writing isn’t and shouldn’t be about the money, I firmly believe that artists ought to be paid for their efforts. There’s nothing ugly about that all, and I imagine none but the most misguided or masochistic would disagree.
In short, while self-publishing is normally a questionable idea, if people know who you are or if you have even one powerful contact in your corner, then consider giving it a shot.