Why I Will NOT Self-Publish My Novel
Recently, I’d been thinking about how I’d like to publish the novel I’m currently working on. Such thoughts, admittedly, are premature: I only finished the first draft quite recently, after all. Even so, I’ve found myself going over the matter repeatedly, and I think it’s high time I shared my thoughts on the issue.
Independent publishing is now seen by many as a legitimate alternative to the more traditional path – a status that will surely get even better with time, if the music and games industries are anything to go by. Independent authors cite a variety of reasons for ditching the old model: an increased flexibility of pricing, the market-driven nature of big publishers and a wish to retain rights over work are but a small fraction of the arguments I’ve seen.
Personally, I remain unconvinced. In fact, where my novel is concerned, my current thoughts are pretty clear:
My novel will either be published traditionally, or not at all.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve read and enjoyed indie books in the past, and I can see why the indie route would work well for certain people. Furthermore, I would NOT rule out self-publication as a way to sell shorter material. I just feel that for the particular project I’m working on now, traditional publishing is the way to go.
I have several reasons for this, but one in particular stands above the others: essentially, I see this as a matter of personal pride. Merely self-publishing a novel is not particularly remarkable in my view, since anyone can do it at absolutely any time. Traditional publication, on the other hand, would require industry professionals to believe in my novel’s quality (or at least its ability to sell), which is something I could immediately feel immensely proud of.
Plus, I would REALLY love to be able to see my book in a bookstore one day – something only possible if I manage to go the traditional route.
The counterpoints to the above are obvious enough. Numerous good books are forever being turned down, while bad books get traditionally published on a regular basis. Plus, self-publishing a novel can easily become a great achievement if it is handled in a competent and professional way.
In fact, success at independent publication could easily be argued to be a greater achievement than equivalent success via the traditional route, since the former must be done without a publisher at one’s back. This, however, could be rephrased thus: success at independent publishing is harder than success via the traditional route. Given the toughness of traditional route, that really is saying something.
Much of this added difficulty comes from the associated costs. Editors need hiring, as do cover artists and formatters in many cases, and a marketing budget will also be necessary. The total expense, needless to say, is far from cheap. I can’t claim to have researched this in great detail, but I’ll assume here that Amber Skye Forbes’ estimate of $1000 is more-or-less accurate.
Now, I don’t know about you, but $1000 strikes me as a lot of money. Could I scrape that much money together? Well, yes, actually, but I wouldn’t want to. Why? Because it would almost certainly be a waste. With the ebook market as swollen as it is, the chances of breaking even would be virtually non-existent – particularly since I lack the skills necessary to truly be my own publisher.
Self-publishing well basically requires an author to be an entrepreneur. I am decidedly NOT an entrepreneur, nor will I ever be: that would require a good head for business and excellent organisational skills, both of which I distinctly lack. And to be frank, I don’t particularly want to be an entrepreneur. Besides anything else, I’d like to think my novel deserves better than that.
To me, it makes far more sense to leave the business side of things to the people who actually know what they’re doing – namely, the professionals within a traditional publishing firm.
Agree? Disagree? Any personal experiences you’d like to share? Feel free to comment down below.
An Open Letter To A Frightened Man – A good post on the merits of self-publishing, though the post that prompted this has sadly been lost.
Agents. Qualified Literary Gatekeepers? – Similar to the above, though this one wasn’t prompted by anything in particular
A Word To Traditional Publishers and the Self Published – Another good post on self-publishing; I’d particularly recommend this one if you’ve already decided on this route.
An Argument For Self-Publishing – And a particularly balanced one at that; well worth reading
On Self-Publishing and the Importance of Drafting – One of my own posts, mostly aimed at those hoping to self-pub for the first time.
Why People Who Self-Publish are Very Privileged – In case you missed this link in the above article 😉
From → Writing