I noticed that you are having trouble finding a publisher. How do you feel about self-publishing? Because I'm also an aspiring author-ish type, and I know that almost all publishers accept novels previously self-published. And it could be a way to get your book to a few more people while you continue your search. But yeah, there are a lot of ups and down, advantages and disadvantages, to self-publishing. Tell me your thoughts on it ^_^
While self-publishing is a nice sentiment, I don’t think I have the tenacity to be any good at it. (I figured other people might be curious on the subject too, so here we go.)
This is why I’m not planning on self-publishing:
1) It’s expensive AS HELL.
If I want my novel to be any good (I mean, come on, you know me), then I plan to have a professional editor review it. When getting published traditionally, the publishing company provides an editor free of charge. It kinda comes as a buying-bonus for whoever is going to print your book. They wanna make it the best they can, right? Because they’re the ones selling it, of course!
When you self-publish, you gotta front the bill for your own editor. I’ve seen the average cost going around 2,000 USD for a 65-95k manuscript. Do I have two grand sitting around? Nooooo. Sure, I could try to edit it myself and make it look all fancy, but I’m not a professional editor. No way am I trusting myself to review my own work with a clear and critical eye. I don’t even review my own chapters of fan fiction before posting them. I have my beta look it over and tell me if I’m being stupid (usually) or not.
I’ve seen many-a-people try to self-publish without having a professional editor and it makes me cringe just thinking about it. Typos galore~ I think it really gives self-publishing a bad rep. It proves that 1) the author was too impatient and 2) the mere idea would sell and 3) the author thinks this is acceptable. Let me be the first to say, iT IS NOOOOT It stigmatizes the rest of the community, invalidating other people who may have something worth reading.
2) Marketing is a nightmare.
When getting traditionally published, the publishing house has an entire marketing team dedicated to getting your book’s title out there. They are professionals. It’s what they do. They know which audiences will be drawn to it, what kind of cover to give it, what journals would write some positive reviews which would in turn lead to higher sales, etc…. It’s a full-time job.
I am not a marketing person. I hate talking about myself or trying to “sell myself.” I don’t even like talking about it with my parents. They’re like, “How’s the book?” and I just shrivel up and die like a slug on a salt lick. When you self-publish, you have to be prepared to sell your book 8 hours a day. You use social media and pay people to review your book and buy ad space any- and everywhere. That is not cheap. You also have to design your own cover. That can get pricey if you wanna make it look as un-shitty as possible. Plus, you have to be able to market it on your own time. Got a full-time job? Not anymore! Now you’re going to be working your butt off selling your own book. And after being on Twitter for a while, I can already tell you that gets old fast. I immediately unfollow anyone trying to sell me something every hour or so. No THANK YOU.
3) It’s one path or the other. You can’t have both.
Whoever told you that publishers will take novels that have already been self-published was lying to you. Okay, they probably weren’t lying, but I have a sneaking suspicion they were either trying to sell you something, or they were terribly misinformed. Agents and publishers will not accept self-published manuscripts. There are some out there, but be careful. The majority of them do not. They don’t want you to fail at self-publishing and then try to get an agent to see if you can make more money off of it. It’s just in bad taste and shows how you don’t have faith in your own work.
Sometimes already established authors have enough of a fanbase to branch out on their own. They yearn to take more creative control over their work and reap more profits, but those are rare in most cases. Those authors had an agent first - guidance, practice. They know what they’re doing.
The whole point of finding an agent is validation and help. The agent knows the market, knows what to look for, knows the pitfalls of contracts, and knows what publishers like. They can sell your product for you and say “Hey, I really like this and I think you’ll like it too” and encourage others to give it a shot. A good agent will be there every step of the way.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not totally against self-publishing. In fact, I think it’s one of the more inspiring avenues this industry has opened up to so many people. Voices that have previously gone unheard now have a chance to get out there. If it’s marketed well, written well, presented well, the sales can still fail, but the same thing can be said for traditional publishing. It is not a guarantee. None of it is. But self-publishing is one of those romantic, pioneering journeys, like explorers seeking new territories - sailing from the Old World toward the New, not quite sure what’s going to be waiting on the other shore.
I just think there needs to be a certain type of person willing to self-publish and I am not one of those people.
For further reading on this subject: