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Stepping into the world of self-publishing

April 12, 2013

In the month since I first started using WordPress, I have come across many, many blogs belonging to self-published writers and I quickly became astounded by the number of such websites.  I have also come to realize something else: over the last few years, the self-pub market seems to have grown massively.  The fact that this surprised me, I suppose, just goes to show how ignorant I’ve been on the matter.

Would I ever consider self-publishing for my own work?  Probably not.  I’m not even close to writing something publishable yet, but if I’m ever happy with one of my works then I would still rather go through the traditional channels.   I will almost certainly elaborate on this in a future post, but suffice to say I have my reasons.

As a reader, however, I think that independent authors should be given a chance.  It has become increasingly clear to me that many such writers work just as hard – if not harder- than those who have gotten their books out via traditional means.  Furthermore, it must be said that traditional publishers are not necessarily the seal of quality that people think they are.  Ever read a book that was so bad you wondered how it got published?  Exactly.

With all that said, I’ve decided to put all preconceptions to one side and to give some indie books a shot.   To this end I have recently acquired several ebooks through promotional deals, and these are going to make up my reading list for the next few months.  Needless to say, I’ll be posting reviews of each and every one of them on this blog – and probably on other websites, too.

First up under the microscope is Infinity’s Reach, by Glen Robinson.  This book’s blurb can be seen below.

Life was pretty simple for Infinity Richards as a teenager in a private school in Baltimore. Then she woke up to discover that she’d spent the past two years in a prison camp.

Now she and her friends are faced with a trek across a forbidding landscape scarred by a surprise nuclear attack on the United States. Their journey will lead them past hot zones, warlords, “crazies,” occupying Coalition forces and an assortment of allies and foes.

It may take her years to get to Camp Zion in the West where her father is reorganizing American forces to take back their country. But in the meantime, her journey across apocalyptic America will turn her into someone stronger, smarter and more courageous than she ever imagined she would be. More than three centuries ago, John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, second only to the Bible in readership. Now Infinity’s Reach revisits the challenges and lessons of the original Pilgrim’s Progress in a totally new and exciting setting.

As of writing, I have read through the first chapter.  My opinion up to now has mostly been positive, though it is of course far too early to predict how things will turn out.  Expect a full review within the next few weeks.

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9 Comments
  1. Self publishing is definitely a viable means of getting your work out. There are many “successful” (depends upon how you define success) self published authors out there (I’m hoping to be counted among their ranks). Hugh Howey (self publishings poster child) wrote an interesting article on it a week or so ago. http://www.salon.com/2013/04/04/hugh_howey_self_publishing_is_the_future_and_great_for_writers/. Definitely worth a read. I can respect your decision to stick with traditional means though.

    • Interesting article; thank you very much for posting it.

      With ebooks as popular as they are now, self-publishing is certainly far more viable than it used to be. I personally remain skeptical, but I have great respect for people who are willing to do it.

  2. A thought about traditional publishing from someone who spent most of the last twenty years pounding his head against that particular wall. In the last three decades it has become increasingly difficult for an unknown author to get the attention of a publisher or an agent. This is irregardless of the quality of the author’s work. There are various reasons for this, including the dynamics of traditional publishing (most books don’t make back their initial advance, so many publishers will not invest in an unknown who is not a sure cash-cow) and the fact that editors and agents can only select a tiny fraction of the tidal wave of submissions they receive. The slush pile is huge at most publishers, to the point that many long ago stopped accepting submissions except via agents. This shoved the tidal wave in the direction of agents, many of whom have stopped taking over-the-transom submissions. Even with those who do, it can take months or years for an author to get a response. On top of that, royalty rates for traditional publishing are low compared to self-publishing (at least for e-books).

    The positives for self-publishing is author control and high royalties. The downside is that there is currently a flood of self-published titles (a situation that will only get worse in the next few years) and it is hard to make your work stand out from the herd. You have to do your own marketing and quality control. Self-edting is very difficult– I am still struggling with issues with my published novels years after I completed the drafts.

    If you choose traditional publishing, that’s your choice, but you should be aware of the downsides. You have one thing working in your favor– you’re willing to work at your craft and wait until you feel you’re ready to publish. That’s good– far too many writers are pushing their stuff out into the market before it’s ready. With traditional publishing, the gatekeepers usually catch the half-baked stuff (though you have to wonder when you see some of the stuff that does get published); there is no such filter with self-publishing, and the results are sometimes appallingly bad.

    I didn’t mean to go on– but anyone working on being published, one way or the other, should understand what they’re getting into.

    Best of luck.

    • HI Doug,

      Thank you for your response. This is a great comment – very informative.

      To be honest, I’m not even convinced that having to do ones’ own marketing should be considered a downside of self-pub. A lot of traditionally published authors also have to do their own marketing nowadays, particularly if they are not already well-established.

      That said, I do maintain that traditional publishing has certain other advantages. I’ll try to put together a post on the matter at some point later this week.

  3. Hello,

    Great idea! As someone who will most likely wind up self-publishing in e-book form, this post has made me realise I’m a bit of a hypocrite. I’ll have to get my iPad repaired (screen is busted) and get into reading some indie authors. It would most definitely strengthen the community as a whole if e-book releases are given quality, in depth reviews. I often find a positive, but critical review sells me more on a title than a 4.5 star rating and “I loved it.”

    Good stuff,
    Cortez

    • Hi Cortez. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment on this blog.

      I know what you mean about the value of detailed reviews. It’s definitely important for reviewers to properly explain why they feel the way they do; otherwise, their final score doesn’t really mean an awful lot.

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