Mark Terry

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Should You Self-Publish?

May 11, 2010
Yesterday's post on e-publishing somewhat skirted the question: should you self-publish, e-publish or paper?

Here's my answer.

I'm uneasy about people who couldn't convince an agent or an editor that their work was good enough to publish, going ahead and publishing.

Hey, it's your life. Do what you want and let the market make the final decision.

Depends on the type of thing you're publishing. Fiction, maybe not. Nonfiction if it's a niche market, absolutely.

It's almost impossible to develop a readership self-published, although that's up in the air now that you can self-publish for e-books.

Publishing is transitioning into a different business model, you might as well get in on it now, rather than wait for traditional publishing to implode on itself.

E-publishing is likely to kill any possibility of the work being traditionally published.

E-publishing is likely to kill any possibility of the work being traditionally published. Talk all you want about e-books, but they're still only 3% of the market and although Joe Konrath is making money doing it, tons of people aren't.

It's your life, do what you want. Don't look to me for permission.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Depends on what you expect out of it. A career? Probably not. Something to sell to friends and family? Sure. An ego boost? Get a manicure or a nose job. Extra income? Get real.

I'm glad I could help.


Blogger Eric said...

I think that about sums it up!

About the only thing I would say for sure is that if you self-publish in order to be able to brag to people that you're a "published author" don't, because if you do you're a liar. Being a published author in the sense people understand that term means meeting certain criteria, such as selling a book to a real publisher. It's no different than getting a college degree, or a license to practice a profession, or getting a job. You need to qualify before you start bragging.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

That sort of falls under my first No, I think. Even though Catfish Guru was essentially self-published before I was traditionally published, I'd already signed a book contract at that point.

Let's put it this way--I have a fair amount of ambivalence about self-publishing for people who haven't otherwise been traditionally published. But ultimately, it's their life, so why should I give a damn?

12:46 PM  
Blogger LurkerMonkey said...

Sounds like the conversation that sometimes runs through my head.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...


1:22 PM  
Anonymous Steven Farmer said...

It seemed to work out okay for Kelly Link.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Don't know her.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

You never claimed that you were "published" on the basis of Catfish Guru, Mark. As I've said before, I self-published for years doing zines, and mini-comics etc. There are lots of reasons one might self-publish. But I never claimed that my efforts made me a published author. Even now I try to be careful to not claim more than being a published co-author.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah, actually, Catfish Guru is something I haven't tended to count toward my publication history, certainly not when dealing with editors or agents. I think it holds up, but it feels tainted to me.

My current "self-publishing" ventures are experimental--I'm curious to see how things go with Kindle publication. Dancing in the Dark hasn't made me much money. I'm e-publishing The Devil's Pitchfork and The Serpent's Kiss, and I'll stand behind both those books. I'm going to e-publish three (or at least 2) of the books for kids I wrote and see what happens. I'm going over The Battle for Atlantis now and really enjoying it. That doesn't mean it's going to take off and make a fortune.

I'm just staying open-minded about the technological options and leaving it at that.

2:10 PM  
Blogger carl brookins said...

While I agree with most of what's posted here, there's mounting evidence that ebooks by anybody who writes a good story and offers up a clean ms. can get some income.

One should not assume a self-pubbed book is neither good nor properly edited. Bad bias. while the self-pubbed book may never be acquired by a dependent publisher (read NY) it may by someone else. second, is this the only story in the hopper? I think not. And there is mounting evidence that books rejected by the dependent publishing and remora-like agents are not necessarily bad books, merely rejected books. So one can publish ebooks and reap a higher percentage of sales. One can also have the thing printed in small quantities, for a reasonable price per unit making direct or distributed sales more than feasible. Since most publishers do damnall in terms of distribution and promotion, what's the difference? Gosh you have to do other kinds of work in addition to writing good stories. You have to run a small business. Tsk.

Of course if you do self-pub you don't get to join some national authors organizations and pay their dues. Hmm.

I'm in favor of self-pubbing if you know what you're getting in to and do quality work. The only thing you'll lose is additional income.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I've self-published before and I'm doing it now and who knows? I think the industry is at a tipping point, at least as far as a lot of writers are concerned. I realized that I was at a kind of interesting point in the writing. I can write something I want to write and submit it to my agent and/or publisher and if it doesn't get picked up, instead of round-filing it, I can then go the e-book route. All of a sudden my risk becomes much lower. (After all, haven't publishers been telling us for years that they're the only ones taking a risk?)

I'm planning on pulling together a proposal for a nonfiction book and I was thinking of going straight to e-book (still might), then I thought, well, why don't you do the proposal and submit it to your agent, and if it doesn't go...

Nice not to have to waste time and energy feeding the gatekeepers.

9:46 AM  

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