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Self-Publishing ~ Pros and Cons June 25, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Writing & Writers.

IMGP4187There are two main avenues (with lots of cross streets, thoroughfares, and traffic to traverse) when you’re ready to publish your words as a book or e-book:

* Find a publisher

* Be a publisher

Both approaches have Pros . . . and Cons.

When you self-publish, you have complete control over the process ~ from the title of your book, to its length, to the design you select for the cover.

You get to call all the shots.

You don’t have to send queries to agents or publishers to get them to sign on to the project.  Once you’re satisfied that your words flow in the intended direction, you can upload to Create Space on Amazon (or elsewhere) and send your words out to the World.

On the downside, if you self-publish:

(1) You won’t receive the external validation that comes from hearing an agent and/or publisher say they believe in the worth of your words enough to invest time and energy in marketing your book.

Who needs them?

If your book sales skyrocket, you’ll receive even more potent validation directly from readers (or the Academy!) ~> “you like me, you really like me.”

(2) You won’t get the benufit of professhunal etiding unless you higher someone to fill that roll for you.

(3) You have to wear three hats ~ writer, publisher, and agent.  For writers who are already borderline schizophrenic, this can be a real challenge.  They must struggle to quiet the voices in their heads long enough to come up with a viable marketing plan, handle press releases (to create a buzz), and set up book signings.

If this is a problem for you, here’s the solution:  Assign each role (writer, publisher, agent) to a different voice or character.  Let them brainstorm together while you go out and get donuts.

Despite its challenges, self-publishing is a legitimate tradition which allows authors to make more money, get to press sooner, and maintain complete control of their work.

Need more convincing?

Many well-known and/or best-selling authors have self-published ~ Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Benjamin Franklin, Rudyard Kipling, Henry David Thoreau, Anais Nin, Thomas Paine, etc..

Here’s a few contemporary examples:

* Richard Nelson Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?

* James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy ~ over 5.5 million copies sold

* Strunk & White, The Elements of Style

* John Grisham, A Time To Kill ~ first sold out of the trunk of his car

* Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box ~ later sold to Simon & Schuster for $4.2 million

If they can do it, so can you.  (Once you quiet those voices in your head.)

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Truths About Self-Publishing (Linda Cassidy Lewis) * Self-doubt, self-publishing, and other selfish writer-isms (Eric J. Baker) * One Year Later ~ Self-Publishing Review (Christine M. Grote) * How to Make an E-Book Using Open Office * The Thrill of Victory & The Agony of Defeat!

And from Global Mysteries:  How to Promote Your Book For FREE * How to Do an Author’s Book Event * What to do When a Publisher Rejects Your Novel 


1. Carl D'Agostino - June 25, 2013

I do cartoons and so competitive and so much talent out there and of little interest to publishers even in this niche market. It’s been a long hard road and finally with createspace/amazon.

My problem is that there is a several stage format to upload from cartoons(any image) to word. It was beyond my ability. The book is all images-no text.Then there is the matter of presetting image size and gutters before upload. In print the gutters are the same/congruent every page so set up done once. In case of image each drawing is different size so EACH page must be set up individually which is time consuming for their techs and therefore expensive as I could not do that either. You usually get 10 images free and each additional is $10-$20 and formatting each image to gutters is $8 each. I have 100 images. However, each page will have a full color cartoon frame.

So the author up front layout is almost $2,000 and the book’s basic manufacture cost is high and it must include an amazon profit and my very modest royalty and other little fees here and there which will put sale at $17 per book. Kinda pricey but this is not a mere comic book but comic art plates. Hopefully ready in 8 more weeks. Have material ready for 2 more books.

Been drawing cartoons for over 50 years and turned 64 June 18th and I have finally accomplished this . I did it. I will continue with my accomplishment which remains a mere dream for far too many artists/writers.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

That’s exciting, Carl. Here’s hoping you recoup your investment and make a tidy profit. If you tickle the public’s fancy, your sales could take off . . . zoom, to the moon!

That’s what happened with The Book of Awesome (spawned from the blog “1000 Awesome Things”):


May you find similar success. 😀

Carl D'Agostino - June 25, 2013

I can’t wait to have my first baby.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

It is rather like giving birth . . . labor pains and all! 😉

2. CMSmith - June 25, 2013

I’m happy you’re able to realize this dream, Carl.

Carl D'Agostino - June 25, 2013

Thank you . Reading your book fruition posts were inspiring and educational.

3. CMSmith - June 25, 2013

Good post, Nancy. Loved the editing tip. I can see you had some fun here. Thanks for the link.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

Thanks, Christine. I did have fun. But pressing “publish” with all those misspelled words staring me in the face was harder than I thought it would be. :mrgreen:

Your journey to publish Dancing In Heaven convinced me that it can be done. And since then, I’ve seen a number of blogging friends follow suit. Most recently, Suzicate (The Water Witch).

Self-marketing is probably the biggest stumbling block for most self-published writers. It’s hard for them to toot their horn loud enough to be heard over all the other competing noise.

CMSmith - June 25, 2013

You’re right. And don’t I know it.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

Have you considered talking to support groups for families dealing with similar issues?

Then you don’t have to sell yourself . . . just Annie’s story.

4. Tammy - June 25, 2013

It’s amazing how far the self-pubishing road has come. It’s very viable now.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

It really is, especially with the expanding marketplace of self-published e-books (with most of the “cover price” going straight into the author’s pocket).

5. William D'Andrea - June 25, 2013

I have self published two novels:
1. “We the People Are Good to Eat”.
2. “A Gatored Community”; A colaboration with Andalib Marx. They are available in both paperback and as e-books at both lulu.com and createspace.com or through amazonbooks.com.
The biggest problem is that nobody knows they exist. They are just two books among millions; and no matter how much I try to publicize them, they’re still lost in the crowd.
This leads me to the conclusion that no matter how good your writing is, don’t quit your day job.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

Self-marketing is probably the biggest stumbling block for most self-published writers. It’s hard for them to toot their horn loud enough to be heard over all the other competing noise.

Maybe you could do a book signing at your church some week? Or at a 4th of July potluck?

William D'Andrea - June 27, 2013

If I did a book signing at my Church, the proceeds would all go as donations for one of the many charitable organizations which we sponsor; which would be the right thing to do. Then the book would have to be one honoring Christian values, which my book “A Gatored Community” does.

However, this would also lead to many of my very good friends at the Church checking out my other writings on webook.com, fanfiction.net, and other sites. For me that would be an opening of my own pandora’s box; and I don’t know if I’m ready for that.

nrhatch - June 27, 2013

Yup. Loss of anonymity is the price of fame ~ it’s a trade off that each of us must evaluate for ourselves.

6. suzicate - June 25, 2013

There are many pros and cons. I just read an article by an author of thirteen books. She just began self publishing. She was not getting marketing with them and her editor took 15% while she only got 7% and publisher took the rest. She has a fan support system so it was kind of a no-brainer to switch venues.She said the publishing industry is definitely NOT what it used to be.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

Author royalties on traditional print publication are a very small fraction of the cover price. For people who have a decent fan base, they often do better by “going it alone.”

Here’s a post I did comparing the numbers:


7. katecrimmins - June 25, 2013

This is really helpful information for those of us who are playing with the idea in our head. I didn’t know you wrote a book! I will check it out!

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

I don’t have a book out there, Kate ~ if I ever get around to hitting “publish,” I’ll let you know.

I went to a self-publishing seminar recently and thought I would share a few highlights. If I decided to self-publish, I would go with CreateSpace on Amazon.

It’s inexpensive, user friendly, and has the best potential for sales.

8. bluebeadpublications - June 25, 2013

I am still deciding between the two.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

That’s why I included so many links at the bottom of the post . . . to help writers who are on the fence decide which way to try first.

katecrimmins - June 25, 2013

I figured that out. Somehow I thought the Book of Awesome was yours but I did find out differently when I checked it out. (and it does look awesome!)

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

It would be AWESOME if The Book of Awesome was mine! 😀

9. sufilight - June 25, 2013

Good post, Nancy. When I self-published I hired an editor, and paid less than $200.00 to have my book formatted and cover designed at Create Space.

Thanks for the links, will be checking the marketing one out. I sold 8 books recently in Amazon. Whoo hoo. 🙂

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

I attended an Intro to Publishing seminar which convinced me that Create Space is THE way to go.

She gave Amanda Hockings as an example of a self-published author who had her sales skyrocket. She priced her 1st book at $0.99 and got $0.35 for each sale. She wrote 5 more books priced at $2.99 each and sold over a million copies . . . getting $1 for the sale of each. Wow!

Glad that your books are selling, Marie. It’s a great feeling to know that your words are out there inspiring others.

sufilight - June 25, 2013

Thanks! And, wow, Amanda’s ideas are great! I am not strong with marketing and feel uncomfortable tooting my horn in Facebook so seldom do this. However, I will learn how to market my book. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

If you’re looking for ideas, swing by Global Mysteries. Nancy Curteman has marketed several of her Lysi Weston books and has done several posts on promotion:


Also, Dianne Gray has a number of books published and might be able to share some tips and techniques:


One thing that authors can do is share short excerpts of their publications on their blogs to drum up interest and enthusiasm. That’s what Col is doing right now:


Kristen Lamb’s blog is a gold-mine of information:

10. colonialist - June 25, 2013

Excellent outline. To add to it, the self-publisher will need to master, or to spend money on, formatting, layout, and graphic design.
The semi-self-published route is littered with stumbling blocks, not least of which is the number of publishers whose only real intention is to relieve you of some of your hard-earned cash, whereafter the hoped-for sales of an often inferior product do not materialise.
‘The Celestine Prophesy’ is an interesting example. Its success came in spite of the fact that it was (maybe still is) badly written and poorly edited.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

Create Space by Amazon is definitely the way I’d go if I decided to self-publish. There are a few minor stumbling blocks (especially for those, like me, who are not super savvy when it comes to manipulating digital images).

Dona Lee (presenter) pointed out several of the pit-falls to watch out for in uploading work to Create Space ~ line spacing, page breaks at the end of each chapter, how to bring your own cover with Adobe, etc.

And, yes, The Celestine Prophecy, is an example of how to make good with a less than stellar book. 😉

colonialist - June 25, 2013

I am working with Create Space at the moment, actually, to get a version out which is more accessible overseas – or, I was until other things got in the way.

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

Great idea, Col. Let us know when it’s up and available.

11. Three Well Beings - June 25, 2013

I had no idea the established authors you mentioned had previously self-published. That is quite amazing. One of my closest friends collaborated with another friend and published a wonderful book–non-fiction and intended for our local audience. They had the benefit of a publisher/publicist and the book did well. Still, at the end of the day they both made about 50 cents a book…I felt all along that they’d have been better off doing it on their own, but it was obviously their decision. I have purchased dozens of self-published books on Amazon–mostly the singles, but some of them are just wonderful. Interesting dialogue, Nancy!

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

Often it comes down to our comfort level (and our finances). If money is the object, and we are willing to TOOT our own horn, then self-publishing is a good bet.

Others benefit from a bit of hand-holding before releasing their words into the world ~ and working with a company providing “Author Services” might be just the thing.

12. kateshrewsday - June 25, 2013

I’d love to get a crystal ball and gaze into the future to see what happens to traditional publishing houses, Nancy. Look at what happened to traditional record labels…

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

In the digital age, there is far less centralization for recording, mixing, publishing, and distributing music, books, and artwork.

It’s a new frontier.

13. diannegray - June 25, 2013

I’ve been “traditionally” published and I’ve self-published and I’ll always go with self-publishing, Nancy, because it gives me so much freedom 😀

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

That’s what I thought, but wasn’t certain. I’m with you on the Freedom. I would hate to be all excited about MY book coming out and then have the publisher decide to change the title from MY choice to theirs.

diannegray - June 25, 2013

Not only that, they can cut out big chunks and tell you how to re-write them. No – I write what I like to write, not what someone else thinks I should write 😉

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

That is an EXCELLENT point, Dianne. Playing by their rules is no fun! Much for fun to be an artist and live by our own rules. 😛

14. shreejacob - June 25, 2013

Wow..A Time to Kill is a favourite Grisham of mine!

nrhatch - June 25, 2013

It didn’t get picked up by a publisher until after he wrote The Firm. At that point, his career took off like a jackrabbit! Or a roadrunner. Beep. Beep. 😀

shreejacob - June 25, 2013

Wow….I read a book by Jack Cansfield and he mentioned one writer that got rejected a whopping 700+ times!! O.O

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Nancy! I thought I’d skip the post because I wasn’t going to publish anything..well not a novel or something, but then I *do* enjoy reading the way you write. You pack SO much of good stuff in so few words, it’s awesome. THEN I saw A Time to Kill in the list !

nrhatch - June 26, 2013

My post today includes a list of best selling authors who fielded MOUNTAINS of rejections (from a book by Jack Canfield) ~ John Creasy tops the list at 774 rejections. That’s like taking a One-A-Day for 2 solid years . . . with no payback.

And thanks! Glad you enjoy the way I write. I tried to inject a bit of humor into this post to wake things up.

15. Suzanne - June 26, 2013

Interesting article. I self published my first novel as an e-book last week – now I’m wondering how to promote it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

nrhatch - June 26, 2013

You might want to check out some of the links above, at the bottom of my post and in the comment thread, especially the Global Mysteries post:


Also, since it is your first book, price it low enough to encourage readers to give it a try . . . and a buy.

Amanda Hockings is an example of a self-published author who had her sales skyrocket. She priced her 1st book at $0.99 and got $0.35 for each sale. She wrote 5 more books priced at $2.99 each and sold over a million copies . . . getting $1 for the sale of each. Wow!

Good luck!

16. ericjbaker - June 27, 2013

I hate the marketing aspect, but apparently publishers think that’s not their responsibility anymore, so I’m not sure why i need them.

nrhatch - June 27, 2013

I tend to agree. They still do marketing . . . but more for the “knowns” rather than the “unknowns.” Amazon has made the process do-able for all but the biggest techno-phobes.

ericjbaker - June 27, 2013

I’m still hoping for a lightning strike at some point. Hard work I got, good timing, not so much.

nrhatch - June 27, 2013

I think what I lack the most is “desire.” I’m happy with things as they are . . . so I’m not terribly motivated to rock the boat.

I’m reading an interesting book, Life 101, by Peter McWilliams. He is doing his best to jar me out of my complacency. 😛

17. jannatwrites - June 27, 2013

The thing I’d like least is the marketing, trying to drum up support. I’m a horrible sales person because I don’t want to be pushy. I’d heard that the publishing houses didn’t do much with marketing these days, so it looks like I’ll stick to blogging for a while 🙂

nrhatch - June 28, 2013

The key to sales is to figure out how the potential buyer will benefit from the product and share that information with them. If we focus solely on what we gain from the sale, selling seems a selfish occupation.

18. Perfecting Motherhood - June 28, 2013

I think we have to be realistic when it comes to publishing companies. They’ll do very little promotion for you and only when the book is coming out. A few months later and you’re on your own. Publishers are poo-pooing self-publishing and that’s only because they’re afraid. As long as they don’t offer more than what self-publishing does, then self-publishing will only continue to become more popular. Great topic!

nrhatch - June 28, 2013

Self-publishing in both e-books and print books will keep growing . . . just like the internet has done.

19. bluebee - June 29, 2013

I’m using Blurb to put together and self-publish a book of my poetry. However, I’m not looking to sell it but rather to have it all in one place and available for friends & family who might be interested. I’m having so much fun putting it together – Blurb’s bookmaking software is very easy to use. Others have done marvellous things with it.

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

That’s sounds like a wonderful project, BB! And a treasure of a gift for friends and family who enjoy your poetry.

One reason I started to blog is to collect “all” my writing in one place in a searchable database. It’s so much more user friendly than having post-it notes and journals all over my office. 😉

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