Monday, November 7, 2011

Self-publishing: Why I'm Not Doing It

If you dabble in the writing and publishing industry, unless you've gone blackout the last two years, then you've heard about the surge of self-publishing (or Indie publishing) as things go more digital. And since you've likely heard all the pros and cons and predictions from a whole bunch of people with more credentials than me, I'm not even going to get into that discussion. What I do want to say is that I've decided not to pursue that direction right now.

Before I share my reasons, I want to first make it very clear that I have many good friends and acquaintances who have chosen to go this route. And I truly wish them all the best. I hope they become wildly successful and their books get a gazillion fans, because the more good books we have, the more readers are looking for good books to read. And that's fantastic news for every book lover and author out there. Yes, there will be some good Indie titles, some that could have used some more editing, some that make people who like the written word go all twitchy, and some that will blow traditional books away. It's called a bell curve and it's apparent in just about every group of anything in life (yes, I took statistics in college).

So, now that I've established I am in no way anti-Indie, there are two big reasons I'm not doing it.

1) I want my butt kicked by an editor/agent
2) The work involved

The first reason, because it's the biggest one, is that I want to be edited. I want to go through the process of a professional revision letter. I know it might sound masochistic, but I want to be a better writer than I am now and though I'm doing everything I can to improve, I want that experience.

The second reason is that unless you already have a solid reader base, making self-publishing work for you is a lot of work. You have to format your book, design your cover and make sure it isn't shudderingly horrible, upload your book to Amazon/Smashwords/whatever other places there are, and then do the initial marketing push -- all by yourself. You could hire professionals to help you with these different aspects, of course, but then you are the one footing the entire bill.

I found a fantastic guest blog post by Tracy Marchini on Nathan Bransford's blog called "The Real Skinny About Indie Publishing." To quote her, Indie authors have to be:

-- excellent writers and moderately good marketers
-- moderately good writers and excellent marketers
-- zombies who don’t ever sleep, and are both excellent writers and marketers

(Image from "Plants vs. Zombies" game.)

And I'm not ready to do that. In fact, just writing about it makes me feel tired. So hats off to all you indomitable spirits tackling that monumental challenge.

And hey, zombies are "in" right now you know.