When Self-Publishing Is Just Screaming Into The Void

So, I read this article: “I’m A Self-Publishing Failure.”

It’s funny enough.

Pokes a bit of fun at author expectations.

Ha-ha, another Salon article where the writer didn’t suddenly strike it rich.

Except, there’s a deeper thread of something here.

And it’s something that isn’t maybe so nice, or maybe so right.

“Self-publishing is the literary world’s version of masturbation, except the results are quite often less thrilling, and you usually end up with a mess.”

Here’s the thing. I don’t know who John Winters is. I’m sure he’s nice. He seems to write well. But contained within this article are a few very important lessons for potential self-publishers:

First, you can’t just be a writer. Self-publishing is… gasp, not the same thing as writing. This fellow took his unpublished work, hit the publish button, and then leaned back and waited for the trap-door to open above his head and spill a fluttering rain of sweet, sweet cash on his naked body. Yeah, whoa, buddy, you actually have to commit more work than that. I assume this is his book to buy (and it seems to have appeared on Amazon the same day as this article, so I’m not sure what that means or says), and the cover is… ehhh, okay, and sure, yes, he went ahead and bought a little advertising and did a video — but that leads me to my next point:

You can’t just self-publish into the void. Self-publishing is a bit like Kickstarter in that it helps if you’re already talking to someone. Meaning, you have a robust social media network or author friends or an audience built off of… blogging or short fiction or other novels or puppet shows starring your genitals in various costumes, whatever. Here’s what this guy did: he seems to have wandered out, plunked his book down in the middle of a grassy field, then wandered away and waited for the fans to come screaming from the four Cardinal directions to scoop up his book and make him rich. Minimal promotion, minimal anything, just publication and — once again, the trap-door opens and BOOSH it’s raining money, motherfuckers. I’m not saying this is impossible, but it’s woefully fucking unlikely.

Frankly, this is difficult to do with even a traditionally-published novel. But there lies the third lesson: if you don’t have the publishing chops and don’t have any kind of inbuilt audience or signal boost, then traditional publishing is a smarter path. I don’t mean this universally, I just mean that self-publishing successfully takes a certain kind of reach and/or work ethic that doesn’t fit well with some folks. A publisher has that reach and that ethic (in theory) to carry your book forward in ways you could not or were not willing to explore.

Final note: self-publishing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. I feel like we all know this, and yet day in and day out you see authors who just keep expecting to up and quit their day jobs because they self-published one thing and one thing not well.

This is not me dinging self-publishing. You can do it and you can do it well –

Case in point, Marko Kloos with his novel, Terms of Enlistment.

Marko decided to do much as John Winters had done, and he put his book up on the marketplace and now, only a few weeks later, it has 100+ reviews, keeps dipping into the Kindle Top 100, is #1 in Military Sci-Fi, and is all in all just rocking it. He did this by writing first a good book, but also because Marko has a small but potent audience already. He has people who are willing to signal boost for him. That gets the ball rolling.

Marko is doing it right.

John Winters is just, as he says, masturbating.

78 comments

  • Well said. I have to wonder about the point you’ve quoted; “Self-publishing is the literary world’s version of masturbation, except the results are quite often less thrilling, and you usually end up with a mess.” Surely, it would be *more* thrilling to reach a high point and know you’ve gotten there by yourself, rather than on the back of some publisher who’s done most of the work for you. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “…except the results are harder to get, take a lot of effort and dedication, and aren’t always the quick-fix some authors hope for.”

    I like to think that self-publishers have to be half a writer, quarter of an editor and publisher, and quarter of a salesman/marketing team. It’s not all sunshine and puppies once you’ve churned a book out, hence the attraction of larger publishers who’ll give you a step up (if you can convince them it’ll sell).

  • Reminds me of that one Salon article where a dude complained how his self published novel made “just” $ 12 000. I think you linked to that article in another blog post, Chuck.

  • Does he think that if he’d been picked up by a traditional publisher that the magic money trapdoor would have opened up and dumped its magical load on his head, that his only mistake was self-publishing? I’ve only started looking into traditional vs self-publishing, and even I know that the odds aren’t good that way, either. Makes the decision harder, but I wouldn’t go ripping into one path or the other if I hadn’t done everything I could to be successful on it.

    At least I’ve done enough research to know that a first novel isn’t likely to bring in the big bucks, no matter how well-written it is…

  • Absolutely true. My first venture into self-publishing — tabletop role-playing games, back in the early 90s — was a soul-crushing failure. Great experience, but the sort of thing that makes you want to commit seppuku with a rusty spoon.

    Know what you’re getting into before you self-publish, folks.

  • Brilliant.
    here’s the thing. I’ve just ventured into self-publishing with some backlist titles I got the rights back to. The one that’s doing best, and really it’s doing well, is one I’ve hardly promoted.
    But I’m multi-published with specialist erotic romance publishers, and I do have a following. I am active, and I do try to promote “me” instead of “this title,” although like a lot of authors I know, this is sometimes excruciating, like you’re at a gathering where you don’t fit, so you have to decide – do you stand by the wall and watch, or do you knock a couple of drinks back and get stuck in?
    I think the “unpromoted” book is selling because people know who I am and what I can do. If I’d been a newbie to the market, I don’t think they would have bothered. And yet, with the book selling, I now know that they still want a genre from me that I love writing, but I thought was moribund (regency romance). So I’m writing another one.

  • Embittered pool soul who will have to keep his day job, poisoning the hopes and dreams of young writers in his classes.

  • April 3, 2013 at 8:25 AM // Reply

    Yep, been there done that. In my own case I self-published because my novel was picked up by a small press, worked and edited, and then just before the release the small press closed. I got my rights back and as the book had been edited it seemed a no-brainer to self publish. Except, I realised, editing is not the only thing a publisher does. I don’t have a platform or blog, and can count the number of my ‘real friends’ on one hand. So I too have been jerking off into the void. Sales have been minuscule to say the least, but the lesson has been a valuable one. I’ll not self publish again. I haven’t got the time, energy or inclination to run around the virtual world promoting the life out of my book – I have a job, kids and what little free time I have I prefer to spend it writing. My next manuscript is going into brown envelopes again and will sit in slush because there is not much difference in sitting on the bottom of an editor’s desk or on the bottom of Amazon’s rankings.

  • Winters’ book has a terrible cover. It’s not “meh.” It’s terrible. It says nothing about the story or the genre. His blurb is bad, too. Replace with a cover that screams “mystery / thriller” and a blurb that actually has excitement and a call to action, and it will sell (at least a little). And also give the book time. Self-published work often takes a few days or a few weeks to build some momentum and to get onto the “Also-Boughts” for other books. Judging anything a failure after 3 days says a lot more about the author making the judgment than it does the work itself.

  • Re your comment about self-publishing: “A publisher has that reach and that ethic (in theory) to carry your book forward in ways you could not or were not willing to explore.” You, my little foxed incunabulum, are dreaming on ecstasy. I’ve had several publishers who spent not one red cent to promote or advertise a book of mine. Such redactorial slugs abound; they are legion, dude. Even if you tradpub a book, be prepared to get a wheelbarrow full of your books and set forth as salesperson. Bill Casselman at http://www.billcasselman.com

    • @Bill —

      Er, I am traditionally published, and my publishers have done a good deal to get my book places that would’ve been difficult had they been published by myself.

      I understand that this isn’t universal and some pubs leave a book out there shivering by its lonesome, but it’s far from universal, and I’d suggest is in fact more edge-case than common practice.

      And — “incunabulum?” Is that the word you mean to use? I’m an… old pamphlet?

      — c.

      • Fortunately for you, I think your experience with your publishers making meaningful efforts to promote your books was the exception, not the norm. My personal experience tends to confirm the general impression I’ve gotten over the years based on reading about publishing and from authors’ experiences that most books are given little or no promotion by their publishers unless the author received a six figure advance or something close to it.

        http://www.scribd.com/doc/25809014/Published-or-Printed

  • Is anyone going to point out the price? Jeeze, if he’d started out at half of that he might make a sale or two more. $10? For a first Novel?! I wouldn’t think he was nuts at $5, but $10? Even Chuck’s Trad pubbed books aren’t that high, and they know we’d pay it.

    • Now that you’ve pointed that out…it does seem kind of like a “well duh”, doesn’t it? Many people consider a $10 e-book to be high even from a big-name author (for better or worse).

  • Well said. I think the biggest misconception writers have about self-publishing is that it isn’t about “business.” The instant you choose to take on that mantle, you become responsible for more than just the words. You now have to format, edit, proof, design a cover and MARKET.

    Not an easy thing on the best of days and it is getting even harder as the big names seek to squeeze out self-publishers.

    Regards,

    E.S.

  • The thing is, although his mentality isn’t the default setting for most self-pubbed writers, it isn’t uncommon, either. I would say roughly 90% of the self-pubbed authors I know are smart about what they’re doing. They promo (but not obnoxiously). They edit (with the help of someone who knows how to edit better than they do). They select a price point that is neither insulting to them or their reader. And sometimes their books do OK and sometimes not so much. But then there’s the other 10%–the 10% who do treat it as masturbation, a chance to “be an author” or prove New York wrong or make a bazillion dollars or whatever.

  • Chuck Wendig – Chuckie, you are a trifle too quick to offer word advice. YOU are telling ME which word I wanted to use. Not yet, fellah. Check out my website and see if I need word help from such as ye. I’ve published 14 books, one in the USA. 3 bestsellers in Canada. All word books. + 5 million words in public print of magazines and newspapers, to my present age of 70. Not too shabby. But, all due disdain cheerfully toward one side, I did intend to use incunabulum…your definition is defective, typical of what I perceive you may be, a word bully. Incunabulum is the standard, rare-book dealer word for ‘any book published before 1500 CE’ , by no means necessarily a pamphlet, Einstein. Foxed means having those little brown mold spots such as abound on old tomes and on the foreheads of persons who can spell but that ability makes them uppity. Cheers, Bill Casselman

    • Hold still dude, I have a tape measure right here in my pocket. Are you going off book sales, or income? Because I think we should do this fairly and get E.L. James to whip hers out, too. Like Chuck said in one of his previous blogs, “The joke for me is that just because the book sold well doesn’t make it the watermark for good writing…”

      And the moment you start playing the “I’m better than you, neener neener,” game you not only alienate yourself from your potential audience but basically piss into the soup of every up-and-coming writer who’s yet to find that pot of leprechaun gold at the end of the rainbow.

      –Still searching for the rainbow, never mind that leprechaun bugger and his gold.

    • @Bill:

      And here I thought you Canadians were supposed to be friendlier. Live and learn, I guess.

      I suppose if you meant to call me a… a book or a pamphlet or an illuminated manuscript, by all means do so. I’m glad to know you mean what you say, even if what you say doesn’t make much sense to me.

      I still don’t really understand your point and just the same still disagree with your earlier assessment.

      Good luck to you and your books.

      — Einstein

      • Hi Chuck, I’m a friendly Canadian. *waves* And believe me, this guy doesn’t speak for my people!

        Also, calling you a pre-16th century book doesn’t sound like an insult to me. Makes you sound rare and valuable. Also possibly hand-made and beautifully illustrated.

        Why, you sexy manuscript, you.

    • I’m sure many smarter writers than I have probably already said this, but the most basic function of writing is to communicate a message. When the words chosen to communicate said message are ineffective, the writer has failed.

      Incunabulum (in this case meant to be insulting, i guess), was ineffective. 14 books and making it to the ripe old age of 70 does not make a man infallible, as Bill tries, and fails, to allude.

      At any rate, keep up the great work Einstein. Loved Blackbirds.

      -Bryan

  • Hi Chuck, what do you think about the Dean Wesley Smith type argument that there really isn’t much disadvantage to self-publishing while waiting it out in slush piles, often for years? I think his argument is that a traditional publisher will still buy a self-published book if they like it, but instead of just sitting in slush pile limbo for years, you can keep writing new books and putting them in front of people and building an audience in the meantime.

    I think he also argues that most publishers don’t do much marketing for first time authors anyway and often the best marketing for a newer writer is simply to have a lot of books on the market so that there is a better chance of being discovered. It might take a while to start earning money self-publishing, but waiting 5-6 years for $3K payday with traditional publishers isn’t that great either, so why not do both?

    I got a long ways to go before I need to worry about it personally, but it does seem like a somewhat compelling argument. With traditional publishing you might have to wait 5 or 6 years to get your book in print (going through slush piles, working out a contract, printing lag, etc…), get $3K-$5K per book with a 3 book contract, and then you might still get dropped when your 2nd book doesn’t sell as well as your first. From what I have read, if you do get dropped after your second book, then traditional publishing is pretty much closed to you from then on (unless you change your name maybe.)

    While with self-publishing, you can still pursue traditional publishers AND write 5 or 10 or however many more books in those 5 or 6 years you wait and get them in front of an audience. You would have more lotto tickets in play, and if you any of your books did pretty good you would be in a better negotiating position with traditional publishers. And you would have a good head start in case a traditional publisher ever did drop you.

    Like I said, I am a total novice and am curious what you think about this type of argument and if there are any disadvantages I’m not seeing. (I’ve been working on short stories for a few years and just recently started a novel.)

  • I’ve self-published 2 books,. The first one fell flat to start, but then a hard to explain freak accident made the book take off. This made my second book much more marketable, and I was happy with the results.

    I was pondering self-pub with my 3rd novel, but partly due to some of your previous posts, I was patient and submitted. I wanted to see what the gatekeepers had to say.

    I have just signed a contract with a traditional (albeit small) publisher, and can’t wait to see the difference. Part of me is even more worried, since self-pub is the devil I know. What I am keeping in mind is that most of the marketing roads I was planning to pursue the self-pub route are still open to me, but now hopefully with some cred under my name. As you have sort of said, 70% of 300 books sold is still less than 30% of 1,000 books sold. Add or subtract zeros depending on your spot on the totem pole.

    I fear the day (it’s coming soon) when I will check my KDP reports and can’t see my up to the minute sales reports. There must be a support group for this.

  • April 3, 2013 at 10:57 AM // Reply

    Well, I now know the name of one jackass author to avoid in the future, and his name definitely isn’t Chuck Wendig.

  • Excellent piece. I can’t agree more. If writing is your thing, but social networking and marketing give you hives, either plan for a good publicist or take that traditional route. The time you dedicate to writing is barely more than the time to promote your product properly. However, done right, with a good product, you can hit the jackpot. Or, at the very least, get a good running start.

  • “I assume this is his book to buy (and it seems to have appeared on Amazon the same day as this article, so I’m not sure what that means or says)”

    I assume it means, he has decided to try a different tactic for selling his book. It piques interest to state publicly, “I am a failure.” He may even see some sales from this. I know I went over to check out the book, but, after diving into part of the preview pages, I yawned and closed it. Perhaps, it is just not my cup of tea, and it is not poorly written, but it really did nothing to grab my attention.

  • I have no doubt that for people (like, well, erm, me) who struggle a bit at the whole self-promotional game, that traditional publishing well may be, as you say, a smarter alternative. That doesn’t mean it’s an achievable alternative, at least not for everyone (like, well, erm, me). I did everything short of sweating blood to get my book traditionally published, but it didn’t work out and I self-published it, and I am fine with that.

    Really I am.

    (retreats into corner, sobbing)

    Where was I? Oh, yes, self-publishing. What the author of the Salon piece doesn’t seem to understand is that self-publishing is a long game rather than a short game. You don’t have to hit the jackpot the first week, like an overhyped action movie. You can grow your audience organically, over time, bit by bit, review by review, tweet by tweet. The only way you truly lose is if you give up entirely, or if you write an article like this and sabotage yourself.

  • “Just write a great book and–” And, nothing. You’ll have a great book. If that is your dream (as it seems was the case with Mr. Winters), congratulations on achieving it. If, on the other hand, your goal is to sell a million books, make a living, support a family, that is a different goal entirely. We call that ‘being a professional writer.’ While there are many way to pursue such a life, the way described in Mr. Winters’s article is not one of them. In the world of crony capitalism that is the contemporary literary industrial complex, you can’t be a dilettante. Unfortunately, a great number of us really aren’t clear what we want, other than ‘fame and fortune.’ If you want your old high school girlfriend to see you talking earnestly on Oprah’s couch while she eats bon bons with the the rock star she dumped you for, you might have to put in a little more sincere effort. Just saying.

  • The worst part is you have people like Hugh Howey, who did, somehow or the other, strike it rich basically saying this is a good course of action. His “advice to new writers” post is basically “keep publishing every MS you produce until you get discovered” (http://deanfortythree.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/on-legacy/).

    It’s a business, and should be treated as such. Some people view it as this magic bullet of literary success, when in fact, it’s just as hard as traditional publishing, for the same reason- you have to stand out among the static.

  • I think you’ve buried the lede with your parenthetical here, Chuck —

    The fact that Winter’s book went live on *the same day* as his Salon piece means that pretty much everything he presents in the article is, to put it kindly, fiction.

    Looks like Salon wanted another link-baiting piece on the self-pub “controversy”, and Winters wanted some guerilla marketing, and one hand washes the other.

    • That’s what I was wondering, yeah, though I’m also willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was republishing his work (as now it’s part of a “series”) to time out with the article, but either way, not sure he’s taking good advantage: the book is available for free on a day of a Salon article that probably could’ve had some folks taking a risk for a buck or three.

      With a better cover and such.

      — c.

      • Did a little digging, and apparently he released it under the title “Murderhouse” in January — and it’s no longer available. Apparently he retooled it as “Murderhouse Blues”, first in a series, which went live, as you noted, on the day his article went up.

        Oddly, he has two different twitter accounts: @jjw12562 and @johnjwinters — neither very active (one with 13 tweets, one with 74, no posts since January, and a grand total of 12 followers between them).

        So basically, there’s no part of this that he appears to have done well.

    • This from the Amazon author’s biography box at the bottom of the page: “NOTE: “Murderhouse” has been discontinued as it has been revised and is now part of a trilogy. Look for the retitled “Murderhouse Blues,” now available.”

  • Thank you for posting this today. Seriously. I was getting so irritated with my long term WiP that I threw my hands up and said, “I’m just going to write short stories and self publish them on Amazon! That will teach this damn thing!”

    Except it’s not as easy as all that is it?

  • So, Winters either doesn’t know how to self-promote and he’s whining about it, or the article itself is so meta it’s actually a promotion method for his book…

  • I love your blog, Chuck. Your “25” lists always give me the boost I need when I’m stuck or struggling.

    Anyway.

    I went right into self-publishing. Partly because of that “burning middle finger for authority” thing you mentioned in a post about whether to go self or traditional. Self-publishing was a carefully considered decision, and I’m happy with it.

    Here’s the thing that these people don’t understand, who throw out one book and then whine about it when it isn’t a big hit: Self-publishing is a business. You have to treat it like a business. You have to approach it in a professional manner, and also conduct yourself in a professional manner. It isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, it isn’t the end-of-season tiny tykes soccer league party where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. You have to work hard and you have to take it seriously.

    The other thing is, you have to be patient. One advantage that I see to self-publishing is I don’t have to worry about my publisher pulling my books and dropping me if I don’t sell a certain number of books within a certain period of time. Self-publishers can and should use that to their advantage. I’m just starting out, just released my first two books in February. I’ve got three more scheduled for release (plus some additional short fiction), hopefully all three this year but it may spill over to next year, and a series I’m planning to release starting next year. That’s a two-year plan to start building my audience. No, I’m not going to be an overnight sensation. (At the moment I’m selling like snow shovels in Phoenix.) But given time and a number of titles and a gradual buildup of word-of-mouth, both from social networks I’m already in and new connections I’m building, I have hopes that my books will find their audience.

    And in the meantime, I get to do what I love and do it my way.

  • Everyone’s journey to success is going to be at least slightly varied. Part of the variance is dependent on genre. It’s clear to me he made several mistakes along the way. Launching with a novel is problematic. Put out a couple shorts/novellas and let your mistakes (whatever nature – formatting, marketing, discoverability – the mistakes may take) be with something you’ve invested less time in. Shorter works reduce risk and provide more opportunity for experimentation. At the same time, they build an audience for lengthier works at higher prices – rather than asking new readers to invest $9.99 in the 300+ page masterpiece of an unknown, capture their initial interest with shorts at .99 – 2.99 and novellas at 2.99 – 4.99. Go free with the lower price work and not your novel (unless it’s first in a series and book 2 or books 2/3 are available). Never, IMO, spend more than 10% of your time on social media and active marketing. DO spend more of your time on the other elements of discoverability (e.g. SEO for your metadata, title, description, your author page on Amazon, feeding your twitter & blog RSS to any store that allows it and WRITING NEW WORK). Do not limit your discoverability by going exclusive absent some extraordinary offer to promo the hell out of you by the company asking for exclusivity. And so on. This method has done okay by me, my only caveat being that I write erotic romance. But there are plenty of examples outside romance/erotica and I would encourage writers in other genres to look at the self-published successes within their genre because there are many paths to success.

  • I think part of the reason why a number of folks think that self-publishing is the path to easy money is because some successful self-published authors brag about their massive sales on their blogs while putting down traditional publishing (the Big Six, that is) without really acknowledging the gray areas that are involved in their success. I think it’s awesome that people can be really successful in it, but too many generalizations are being thrown out, hence the “us and them” mentality self-publishing and traditional publishing that pops up here and there.

  • Thanks for your post Chuck. I am about to embark on self publishing my first contemporary romance which had been contracted but unfortunately for me the publisher closed their doors and returned the rights to my book to me. Since receiving my contract late last year I have built up a social network around the world. My husband tells me I have a real knack for marketing and self promotion. Who knew? I am aiming for end of this month. I’m curious to see how it all pans out.

  • Back in the day, before Kindles were invented, I self published my first book as a paperback. I researched the whole subject first, and the best piece of advice I read about self pubbing, was this: Only invest as much money in your book as you are prepared to lose. It’s a whole different world now, with ebooks, people’s expectations are so much higher. And so much more unrealistic.

  • Problem 1 – Ugly cover. I mean I am an accountant and I could design a better cover than that.
    Problem 2 – 9.99 for a 300 page e-book? Are you kidding me? I can buy a book twice that size written by a writer I actually know for less. Try .99 for awhile dude and build an audience before you try to get greedy.
    Problem 3 – It’s only been published for a few days unless he took it down and then put it back up. Rome wasn’t built overnight as they say.

    Let’s just call this what it is, a creative way to get people to click on and maybe buy his book. Hell, I would’ve given it a shot if it weren’t 10 bucks. I can buy 10 decent books for that price. No thanks. The whole point of self publishing is so you can make higher royalty rates allowing you to sell your book for a much lower price which appeals to new readers and still let’s you maintain your profit margin. .33 royalties on 100 sales is still more than 6.99 royalties on 0 sales.

  • Is there anyway to try both? Can someone try self publishing and resort to the traditional route if it doesn’t seem to be working out? Or is there no way to pull a book once the self publishing door has been opened?

    • You can pull it. And that may be fine, but having to pull it looks like the book wasn’t successful and it’s possible that an agent or publisher will say, “Well, look, it wasn’t successful here, that’s not a great sign,” and they’ll say no.

      Even though the book is pulled doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be found. The Internet is (temporarily) forever.

      — c.

    • And many publishers want first pub rights to a work. If it’s been previously out on the net anywhere, that’s basically published in their eyes and they’re much less likely to pick it up. However, you could write other titles under a pen name as self-pub and still send out other works traditionally. Double your chances of seeing some return from your endeavors. A number of authors that I know are saying that in the writing market today, it might be best for authors to work a number of angles, small press, big six, and self-pub.

  • When I was contemplating self-publishing my first book I asked advice from a friend who had had several books opublished – some self and some traditionally. She thought for a minute, then said, “When you self-publish, you’re spared the disappointment of discovering your publisher doesn’t know how to sell your book either.”

  • This writer’s attitude about publishing and readership reminds me a lot of the ongoing public hype about embittered high school senior Suzy Lee Weiss and her WSJ rant about how being herself was not after all enough to get her into her dream college: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324000704578390340064578654.html?mod=WSJ_article_comments#articleTabs%3Darticle

    The reality is that no matter what the pursuit, you don’t get there in a vacuum, and you don’t get rewarded just for existing. Success is hard work. There are a lot of people out there who need a reality check and a swift kick to the ass. It baffles me that this kind of mentality is so pervasive.

  • I just finished Terms of Enlistment the other night. It’s solid. But, I’ll point out, Marko has a large cheerleading section from the gun/vet/libertarian blogosphere like View From The Porch (you’d like that one, snarkimus maximus). Got a good many “Buy this book” posts in the old RSS feed.

  • I’ve been a book blogger since before there were blogs, and I’m in touch with a lot of other people like myself. So when I decided to self-publish a novella this year I went into it knowing how difficult it would be to get reviews. Very few outlets will cover self-published works, and the more prominent ones are the least likely to do so. For the same amount of work, a self-published writer will probably get significantly less than half the coverage, all other things being equal, than one with the credibility of a traditional publisher behind them.

    There’s no point going in without some kind of plan. Marko Kloos is working the military angle. One YA author I know, G.L. Twynham, visited hundreds of schoolchildren before picking up a reader’s award for her book. Of course there’s an element of luck involved, but these people are making their own luck by putting in the work.

  • I open the link to the article, and the first thing I see is a picture of this author–a fedora and everything, although I was hoping the stereotype was just that. Great first impression.
    Later in the article, I hear him complaining on rejections, apparently giving up on traditionally-publishing. If I’ve ever learned one thing from so many authors, it’s that there’s a lot of rejection for someone new to the field.
    I have to say, my interest is worn down less than halfway through the article, and he expects me to read his book. Still not a good impression.

  • The one fallacy I see here is the assumption that published authors can get rich or even make a living with their own writing, whether it’s self-published or sees print via a traditional publishing company. Most published authors have a day job (maybe even two) and they don’t write for the money. Sure, it’s nice if lightning strikes and even if you can’t write you end up with Fifty Shades of Grey and all the money that came first from self-publishing and then a deal with a traditional publisher. Personally, I don’t think most authors are self-delusional. They have read too often that few authors get rich being an author. I’m glad this writer doesn’t slam those who self-publish. Musicians do via YouTube and websites. Artists have their own websites which is no different than self-publishing. With traditional publishers not taking risks self-publishing may be just the way to go. Just be realistic and don’t expect to earn a fortune. If that’s why you’re writing maybe you should quit and try to invent the next app or social network site that will make you your millions.

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