I’d like to think we’ve all moved past the days when self-publishing was considered nothing short of sacrilegious. After all, self-publishing is a billion-dollar industry, and wild success stories are becoming more and more common. But even today, the self-publishing stigma still rears its ugly head on occasion. To clear the air, here are a few common self-publishing myths debunked:
1. Self-publishing is easier than traditional publishing
This myth just doesn’t make any sense. As a self-published author, you’re not only responsible for writing a compelling story, you also need to be your own marketer, editor, promotor, social media director, and project manager. And even if you farm out work such as formatting, proofreading, editing, and cover art design (as you should), the ultimate responsibility for the end product is yours and yours alone.
But don’t get me wrong: most self-published authors don’t mind the extra work. Know why? It’s because they are in complete control of their end product. Complete. Control. (Insert diabolical laugh here). And at the end of the day, when you hit that pretty yellow “publish” button, you can bask in the glory of your accomplishment, an accomplishment that’s all the sweeter because you did it all by yourself.
2. People who succeed with a self-published book are just lucky
This one is so false that I wonder if it was started by failed authors, as it reeks of sour grapes. Self-publishing is a business. People who are successful in business have products/services that people are willing to buy, and they market them well. Authors who are successful with self-publishing have books that people are willing to pay to read, and they market them well. End of story.
3. Self-published books are poorly written and poorly edited
I’m not going to lie. There are some self-published books out there that are hampered by grammar mistakes, typos, shitty formatting, and lackluster plots. But for every crappy self-published book out there, there are at least ten truly awesome ones. The same can be said for traditionally published books, in my experience. And much like a blind taste test, I’d be willing to bet that if you read a well-edited, self-published book and a well-edited, traditionally published book at the same time, you wouldn’t be able to tell me which was which.
4. Self-publishing is for people who aren’t good enough to get an agent and a contract from a traditional publisher
Well, while I can’t say for sure that this one is 100% false, I can speak from my own experience. I actually did have an agent from a huge New York agency, and let’s just say that my experience was…less than satisfying. I wrote in more detail about my experience with an agent in my blog post titled “Be your own biggest fan”, but I can honestly say there are many reasons why a writer might not get a contract with a traditional publisher (including being cock-blocked by your agent)–and those reasons often don’t have anything to do with a writer’s talent.
People don’t want to buy self-published books
No, people don’t want to buy bad books. They’ll buy good books, no matter who published them. And as John Kremer said, “You could stock a superb college library or an incredible bookstore just from the books written by the some of the authors who have chosen to self-publish.”
You can only have a career as a writer if you publish traditionally
You could actually argue that when you publish traditionally, your career is not in your own hands, but rather, in the hands of your publisher. If your traditionally published book doesn’t sell, your publisher can drop you. Other publishers might not be willing to gamble on an author who was dropped by their previous publisher, no matter how good the writing is. Self-published authors, on the other hand, can have a career for as long as they have words to sell and the ability to hit the pretty yellow “publish” button.
Did I miss anything? Speak up, my self-pubbed brothers and sisters. Let me know what pisses you off.