To Self Publish or Not To Self Publish? That Is the Question

With so many changes occurring in the publishing industry, there is a lot of talk about whether or not traditional publishing is still the best way to go for new authors. Of course a plus to self publishing is having complete creative control over your product, but does one just wake up and decide to self publish over taking the traditional route? And what factors go into making that decision? Well according to an article entitled “DIY Book Publishing: Is It Worth It To Self-Publish” Michelle Alerte explores those very questions with three different authors and the overall consensus was that self-publishing was done out of necessity and not as a first choice.

Song of the Shaman author, Annette Leach, turned to self publishing due to the inability to find a publishing company that was willing to not only take a chance on a new author, but one with a book that she categorized as a metaphysical historical fiction. Leach started her own publishing company, MindPress Media, hired editors to review her work, utilized the services of and BookBaby for cover art and e-book distribution and turned to Ingram Spark, a reputable printing company, to print her books on demand. Over a ten month period, she spent no more than $5,000 which included the cost of starting her own company.

Marlen Suyapa Bodden, author of The Wedding Gift, wanted to take the traditional publishing route mainly for access to superior editors, but after being turned down close to one hundred times due to publishers stating that they “could not sell a book about slavery”, self publishing was the only way to go. Bodden published her book through’s Create Space (previously called Book Surge) in 2009, hired a PR company to help with marketing and put in the leg work of promoting her book for about two to three years. By 2012, her book had made it onto the Wall Street Journal bestseller list which definitely proved those one hundred publishers who turned her down were sadly mistaken about her books selling potential.

Nana Salone’s Game, Set, Match was published through Wild Rose Press in 2010, but due to creative differences on the cover art and little to no marketing support, the book only generated $52 in its first quarter. Such low sales are completely unexpected and unacceptable when taking the traditional publishing route. Salone chose to re-release the self published version of her book with a cover of her choosing in 2012 and made that same amount within two hours as she had with Wild Rose Press and has been hooked on the idea of self publishing ever since. Her Hot In Stilettos book, which is the first in a three book Stiletto series, made it onto the USA Today bestselling list.

Each of these authors were drawn to traditional publishing companies for different reasons, but it is important to note that they all saw value in taking the traditional publishing route. The problem appears to be that these authors were willing to step outside of their comfort zone to produce their work and publishing companies were not. It makes me wonder how many books these companies will miss out on publishing in the future simply because the book concepts do not fit within a cookie cutter image. By taking risks, these authors were able to see first hand on which areas of publishing they should focus in order to reach the most readers and generate decent sales. Publishing companies should use examples such as these to build their relationships with new authors and learn that it okay for them to take such risks as well.



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One response to “To Self Publish or Not To Self Publish? That Is the Question

  1. Pingback: Author patronage – an intriguing concept, revisited « Liquid State

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