Thursday, January 10, 2013

Self-publish or not?

Many author friends and acquaintances have abandoned traditional publishing in favor of self-publishing.  Others do both.  Some are doing quite well, earning what I consider to be good money and making best-seller lists.  Others aren't.  Some already had name recognition.  Some make it sound so easy to do and succeed.

Yet there are many steps and tasks to complete before any self-pubbed release, including desigining your own cover to writing back cover copy to formatting to hiring an editor to uploading to setting the price...things traditional New York publishers and many smaller publishers do for the author so s/he can focus on promoting one book while writing the next.  I'm taking an online class and am getting a lot great information in one place.   

There are benefits to being in control, but also many costs, both in money and time.   The instructor hasn't said yet how much of both she's spent.  I'm not sure I want to wear other hats in addition to author, though I'm sure the process gets streamlined and easier as you put out more product.  On the other hand, I could get my manuscripts to readers when I chose.  Traditional publishers, in my experience, take a long time to read submissions (an editor who requested in April 2011 just wrote that it'd be a few more weeks before I heard) and can take a year or more to turn a manuscript into a published book.  The proof is in the sales numbers, but I still believe having, say, St. Martin's on my cover would have more caché than whatever name I could come up with. 
On the other hand, there are so many self-pubbed books out there already, how would I make mine stand out?  A few places review self-pubbed books, but many review sites want to see an established publisher's name on the spine.  RT Book Reviews , a premier trade publication, has a self-pub column but concentrates on traditional publishing. 

What's the definition of published nowadays?  I've heard if you sell 5,000 copies of a self-pubbed book the first year, that's considered good.  If you've self-pubbed, but only your mom and a few friends have bought your book(s), are you published just because you can read your work on your e-reader?   

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