Though I’m early in my writing career, I’ve run across many authors who are not. And, in seeing their experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that more people may benefit from self-publishing than I once might have thought. These two issues are puzzling (and somewhat alarming) reasons why self-publishing may be a better way to go than waiting on a traditional large publisher or even a small press (with or without the help of an agent) to decide to publish your work for you.
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1. The Lack of Editing
I know this may sound strange, but I’ve found that about 90% of the people I know of who have gone through a traditional publisher–mostly small presses–were not provided with proofreading or editing services of any kind. They either had to edit the book themselves or come out of their own pocket to hire someone to read their work. I would have thought that fast and accurate proofreading services would have been one perk of involving a third party to publish your work. But if the publisher isn’t ensuring that your copy is clean, why work with them? If you are thinking of going the traditional route to publish, do your homework and be certain that this service is part of the deal.
As a self-publisher, you will have several options related to how you can get your work proofread for cheap or even free ( I discuss this in my online self-publishing courses) because you will have complete control. While there is nothing wrong with reviewing your own work for mistakes, I believe it is critical to get other people involved in reading your drafts. I don’t see any other way to fill in your own mental blind spots. We tend to get comfortable with believing our work is acceptable because we insert what we MEANT to write into what we ACTUALLY put down on the page. Getting various outside perspectives on your work is the only way that I know of to circumvent this.
2. The Lack of Promotion
Just as dumbfounding as seeing people have works published that so obviously have not been proofread or critiqued by anyone, is the fact that many authors working with a publisher still have to do the bulk of their own marketing, especially promotion. You would think that, with multiple outlets at their disposal (pod casts, social media accounts, blogs, etc.) a publisher would be able to help you take your marketing to the next level. If an author still has to do all of the event coordination, social media announcements, etc. what exactly was the benefit of hooking up with a publisher?
Again, should you decide that you want to work with a publisher, talk to them about how much work you’ll be responsible for, versus how much they’ll be responsible for. Take a look at how well some of their other artists are being represented. If possible, have a conversation with some of the authors that they represent in order to get a more fair representation of what working with that particular press is going to entail.
On a consistent basis, I get the impression that a self-published writers (like an independent singer or a free agent in athletics) is a more empowered writer. If you’re on the fence about self-publishing, I hope you’ll attend Self-Publishing 101 to learn a little more about the process to help you make your decision about it.