Monday, May 6, 2013

Self-Publishing Pros/Cons: The Best Discussion Yet

For my money, the attached discussion of pros and cons of self-publishing now (spring, 2013), is the best I've seen. It was presented last week by blogger and author, Allison Winn Scotch on the blog, Writer Unboxed.

Rather than write a post today, I'm just going to give you the link to that blog post and discussion, in case you missed it. This topic is too important to writers not to be highlighted. We need all the good, down-to-earth discussion of this thorny issue we can get to make the right decision for ourselves in our constantly evolving publishing landscape.

Hint: If you don't have time to give Allison's post a thorough read, scroll down in the comments section to Donald Maass's (well-known literary agent) first comment. The back-and-forth that begins there, which is v. civil and on-point, is excellent.

The New Era of Self-Publishing, by Allison Winn Scotch.

Where do you stand?


  1. Thanks for the link. Don's comments were interesting. I don't plan to self-publish at this point. I don't have the energy for all the business hats you have to wear while working full-time. But I'm glad it's an option for others.

    1. I'm in the same frame of mind re self-pubbing, Natalie. It's all changing fast, now, though, so keeping an eye on what might open up that gets closer to writers not doing everything for themselves but that is also highly professional and high quality is what I'm interested in. It hasn't been done yet, as far as I'm concerned.

  2. Donald has some fabulous points and for the most part I agree with him. Self-publishing is HARD and if you're going to do it, you need to do it right with a professional editor, cover designer, and maybe even a marketing consultant. However, Donald is wrong on one very key point, and that is his point #11 where he says very few author have made it work. I'm friends with six self-published authors who make a living at it, a GOOD living compared to many of my traditionally published friends who bring in royalties checks of a few hundred dollars twice a year if they're lucky. And one of those friends is with a big publisher. It just does to show, if it's done right, you can make it work.

    1. Thank you, Heather, that is such important information! Do you have a favorite resource that goes into specifics of how to do it right, and how to figure out the exact approach that will work for a writer, based on genre, audience, and other factors that need to be paid attention? I would LOVE to have that at my fingertips!

  3. Thank you so much for the link Linda. I have to comment on that point 11 too. I think very few make it at publishing at all. Self or not. The real power is in distribution and marketing. Traditional publishers have the distribution power, but the marketing... not so much any more.

    I believe the fear with agents, Donald included, is that if we all self-published, there would be no need for them. Unfortunately, they don't do what they once did for their dollars either. They used to see potential... a character, or a story... and they helped the author work it into something special to get to a publisher. Now they want perfect.

    My thought is this... if they want perfect, then why do we need them? It's an interesting dilemma. I supposed we need to know what "perfect" is.

    I might have to say it's like painting my house. I could hire someone to do it... A professional. I'm by no means a professional painter. It's hard work. Takes a long time. I learn along the way. But at the end of the day, I did it myself. There's pride in that. I wonder if doing it yourself in the book world has the same feeling.

    Thanks for sharing this Linda!

    1. All excellent points, Karlene, and I think anyone who is considering self-publishing should pay attention to your house-painting metaphor. It's a good one. Would you rather do the work yourself to have control and trust yourself to make sure it's done right, or would you rather find a professional you believe (and you have to do a lot of research to know) you can trust to do it right? Both choices are, I believe, a lot trickier than most of us think they are.

      Where you come down on that answer tells you a world about whether to self publish or not. It's not just a matter of who can do it well, it's also a matter of personality and personal preference.

      I agree that literary agents are on defense these days and have to go above and beyond previous expectations, including playing a much stronger role in managing a writer's career, to win the trust they want and need.

  4. I started this company because a friend of mine asked me to build him a website to market his paperback novel. In the process of helping create his website I got involved in the digital publication of his book due to his current publisher wanting to charge him an astronomical fee to digitally print his book. Along the way I learned a great deal about digital publishing, traditional book marketing and thought to myself that if my friend was having this issue - most likely others were as well!

    I decided that one of the principal goals of this new company was that every transaction must not just be a transaction (if we wanted to be that kind of a company we might as well not bother) but a win / win situation for both parties.

    Rodney Wild