Monday, 25 July 2011

To self-publish, or not to self-publish? Is there any other option for the brand new author?

Self-publishing.  Almost everyone who writes has an opinion on the subject - sometimes too much of an opinion, and that's what's spurred me on to write this blog post really, because of a comment someone left on my personal Facebook page last week.

You see, when I first started out on this journey to becoming an author just under two years ago I wasn't even willing to consider self-publishing of any description (and especially not the option that involved forking out money!), oh no, I wanted an agent and I wasn't going to settle for anything less.  So naiive of me, and I know that now, but I knew so little back then.  So, three completed novels and a shed-load of rejections later (their loss!), and with reality knocking very loudly at my door, the world of eBook self-publishing had suddenly become my new best friend!  And I think that most regular readers of my blog will know how the rest of that story is panning out - my books (well, two of them anyway) are now out there, I'm trying everything I can to promte them, etc., etc.  And it's hard.  It's very hard.  But, in a funny kind of way, I am enjoying it!

However, when I updated my personal Facebook page (not my author page) last week mentioning how hard it was to sell your own books and make people aware they exist, I was met with a comment from somebody (who regularly makes the same comment time and time again whenever I mention anything about the difficulties of self-publishing) claiming that they, personally, would concentrate on improving the writing rather than trying to sell the books!  Now, I don't know if this is just me being paranoid, but I'm kind of reading into that comment that this person is assuming my books aren't selling in vast quantities because the writing is rubbish!  I'm not entirely sure what they think I actually do once I've finished a book - do they think I just complete the book and then stick it straight on Amazon?  No!  Couldn't be farther from the truth!  Every single one of my three completed novels has undergone so many edits I could recite each one almost word for word!  I have gone through every one of those books many times and done as much as I can to make them the best I think they can be but there comes a point when you can only do so much before you actually start to do damage to the book, rather than improve it.  And yes, three completed novels in less than two years does seem rather a lot but let's not forget that for most of those two years all I did was write, every day.  I wasn't promoting, blogging, tweeting - none of that, because I hadn't begun that stage of the journey at that point.  But now I have, and I'm proud of what I've written and happy with the finished books, even though I know that if I read through them again now I'd still find things to change but you can become obsessive if you edit too much!  And as a writer I'll probably never be 100% happy with any finished book but that's just the perfectionist coming out in me. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we, as indie authors, can only do so much because until the people who buy our books come back with feedback and tell us what they thought, we really have no idea whether or not our writing is actually any good.  How do we know if people don't tell us their thoughts and opinions?

But back to the comment this person made on my Facebook page.  I know that they really don't go for the idea of self-publishing fiction of any kind, it's not for them, and that's fine.  I felt the same way - unitl I actually began that hunt for an agent, and it was the most soul-destroying and frustrating thing I have ever done, believe me.  And yes, at some point I did begin to think I was getting nowhere because my writing wasn't up-to-scratch, but I'm more than certain that that wasn't the case now.  There are so many reasons why brand new authors can't get representation at the minute.  So, I could have sat on my backside and spent the next God knows how many years "improving" my writing and pushing on and on with the search for a literary agent, ofcourse I could have done that.  Or I could have taken a risk and gone it alone and tried to live my dream - and I'm so glad I took that latter option.  I don't want to be sitting here in tweny/thirty years time thinking "if only I'd had a go", that would kill me!  A vast amount of success may never happen with the route I've taken, but who knows?  Being an indie author means a lot of your success is down to you so it's up to me to push on and make my own destiny, but whatever happens, at least I'll be able to sit back and say I tried.  And that's good enough for me.

Oh, and one final thing.  I'd just like to say to that person - should they ever read this, although I'm not sure they've read anything of mine actually, so until they do I'm taking any comments with a pinch of salt - that when they've finished their own novel and started the job of finding that agent for themselves, I would love them to come back and let me know their own experiences.  I'll be extrememly happy if they succeed, and extremely supportive if they don't, because it might just make them think twice about self-publishing, just as I did.  I personally believe we're on the threshold of a new era in book publishing - especially with the advent of eBooks/Kindles, etc., - and I truly believe that what's happening now is just the beginnning.  It's exciting and daunting but I'm so glad I'm taking a chance because I'm finally doing what I've always wanted to do, and that's write - and have my stories read.  And if that continues to happen, then I'll be one very happy indie author indeed. 
eBook self-publishing is giving people the chance to do something they may never have had the chance to do before and for that I'm, and I'm sure many others, are extremely grateful.  To be able to not only publish my own books, but also also discover new talented writers who are also out there just trying to make a success of their dream, how can that ever be a bad thing?

If you'd like to find out more information about either of my two self-published eBooks then visit my other blog for more details of how to buy, taster chapters, and info. on how to download the FREE Kindle app for PC's/iPhones etc. if you don't own a Kindle.


  1. Couldn't agree with you more! How dare people put down our choices when they know nothing of our journey. We are not the ones who wake up one morning and simply decide to stick a book on Amazon - we're the grafters. I truly wish you every success and hope that you can put the ignorant person's comment from your mind.

  2. Amen, Michelle! You are spot on with this. I commmend your efforts especially knowing what a long and sometimes scary process it is to self-publish. I applaud your conviction. Stand proudly by your work and know that the vast majority in the writing community give you total support. As far as the negative comment I'm guessing it was someone just plain mean or someone outside your reading audience. Either way, it's their loss.