To Self-Publish Or Not To Self-Publish?

Unless your name is J.K. Rowling, you are very unlikely to get published on your first try. Or even your tenth try. Getting a book published is hard work. In today’s economy, it’s even harder than ever. Publishers are reluctant to take any risks on a book that may not be the next Fifty Shades of Gray.

It’s not surprising then, that so many people have started self-publishing. The Internet provides plenty of options for the do-it-yourself author. There are benefits to self-publishing, but there are also shortcomings. Some swear by it, and others set their sights on traditional publishing. Which avenue is best for you depends on several factors.

You may want to self-publish if…

  • You are the independent type, who has the time and energy to put into editing, formatting, and promoting your own book. You may have experience as a freelance writer and prefer to work solo.
  • You have a large Internet following, a popular blog, or are involved in an Internet community. This will make sharing your book easier. You can utilize facebook, tumblr, tweets, and other forms of social media for a content marketing strategy that isn’t overbearing. Share widely, but there’s no surer way to turn-off potential buyers than to spam! Find a balance.
  • You have a “niche.” It helps to know exactly what demographic you are targeting, and seek those people out on the Internet. Keep them in mind when you design your content strategy. This works best when your topic is popular with a large group that views the same web pages, but not so large of a group that your marketing will go unnoticed.
  • You are okay with a smaller readership and not making a lot of money. There are some people who make it big with self-publishing, but a lot more who don’t. You have to assess your desires.

You may prefer traditional publishing if:

  • You aren’t good at making sales pitches and would prefer someone else handle that for you. Of course, you’ll have to make one good sales pitch to persuade an agent you’re worthy of their time.
  • You already have industry connections or have been published in the past.
  • You feel it is all or nothing: you want to make a living as an author and reach a vast readership, or just not be published at all.
  • You have a high tolerance for rejection, and are flexible about changing your writing to fit the desires of publishers.

These tips should get you thinking about which strategy is right for your book. The most important thing is to persevere. Keep in mind that even J.K. Rowling received 12 rejection letters before the first Harry Potter book was published. Stephen King received as many as 30 for his first novel, Carrie. Both types of publishing require patience and a thick skin. Writing is not for the feint of heart, but hang in there.