Self Publishing: Is It a Waste of Time or a Viable Alternative

There are those who would have you believe that there is only one direction to go in. You are either a talented writer and you get published by a main stream publisher or alternatively you are an untalented wannabe and your only hope is to self publish. If you take the second route you will find yourself scorned by those who took the first route as not being good enough to make it in the real world. And for those who took the road less traveled, they often see the publishing establishment as being opposed to supporting new or niche authors.

Nonsense. The truth is a lot more complicated than that. It always is. The world is full of gray areas that connect us to the black and the white, waiting in their respective corners to start the next round. When it comes to publishing there are books that are good and books that are poor. Editors and agents would like you to believe that they are infallible and that without their input you will fail. Not true. If you go through the process properly you should be able to duplicate the quality required to succeed. It takes time and a will to achieve the very best quality for your product.

In fact I will be watching to see what all the new out of work editors and agents will be doing next. My guess is that they will be offering their services to – you guessed it, all those poor frail souls who want to self publish. And if any of those printed authors found their services were no longer required, do you truly believe that they would simply give up and go away. Of course not, they would be into Print on Demand faster than you could shake your fist at them.

Here are a few home truths about self publishing.


Self publishing allows you to retain full control of your book. What goes in and what you take out. You retain full control of all graphic and cover design. Each and every stage is controlled by you.

You can make a larger profit per book than you would with a publishing house and agent.

Your book will never go out of print. You retain copyright and editorial control.

You can control where your book is sold and for how much. No book club discounts or bulk buying discount for you to worry about. You can even sell it from the back of your car.


You must do all the technical preparation yourself before you can send your manuscript to the printer. This can be exhausting, not to mention quite difficult. The learning curve can be very steep for some people. There is a very real danger here that the quality of the book will suffer.

You must edit and proofread the book yourself or hire someone to do it for you. This is a critical element that must be properly done. Any mistakes here will ruin any chance for success.

You must market and sell the book yourself. Perhaps the single most difficult and frustrating task that you must master in order to succeed.

Most bricks and mortar booksellers will refuse to sell your book. There is often no way around this. These stores simply do not see you as a means for them to make a profit, and you must remember that they are in the business of selling books in order to make money. You’re just not big enough.


Regardless of public perception, print on demand is a highly practical and sometimes the only sensible route to take. When it comes to books, the market has changed drastically over the last twenty years. Bookstores no longer want to stock big thick hardbacks that take up space. They want slim novels that fly off the shelves.

Publishers want more and more to work with established names and year after year the advances that authors depend upon have been slowly drying up. New untried authors have little hope of defeating this industry wide tactic when even established bestselling authors are having trouble maintaining their existing advance level.

There is one further point to remember, not every book can or should be published by an established printing house. There are books which simply do not fit any known genre. They might also be so geographically specific that only people living in that region would have any interest in purchasing the book. These points have nothing to do with the quality of the writing but more the specifics of the marketing. The truth is that no one will touch a product they feel they cannot sell and more importantly make a profit from.

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