Sunday, April 10, 2011

Am I Crazy For Self-Publishing?

I think the above question is the one that so many indie authors ask themselves, and also have asked of them.  I've certainly asked myself that question.  The answer that I have for myself now, and what others should be saying as well is:  no, I'm not crazy, I'm brilliant!

Now that's a pretty strong statement to make, I'll agree.  But the evidence is becoming more and more overwhelming that the smart money is on self-publishing ebooks rather than going with one of the Big 6 publishing houses (or one of the many smaller publishing houses).  I think the most important aspect to self-publishing ebooks is the length of time people have to find you - essentially unlimited.

Let me expand on that a minute.  With a traditionally published book (and I'm just talking fiction here), the publisher will work to have as big a push at the release date as possible.  Doing interviews, touring, book signings, etc.  The reason?  Because they know that after a while (in many cases a SHORT while), your book, which was the newest thing, won't be the newest thing anymore, and your sales would slip to the point where it isn't economically feasible for them to carry copies in their stores.  And as a book buyer, if I can't find your book on the shelves of the bookstore, the likelihood that I will have them order a copy of your book is slim to none, and slim is riding away in the sunset pretty fast.

Contrast that with ebooks.  Once the ebook has been published and put on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc., as well as possibly your own website, then you don't have just a few weeks to get the word out.  You have months.  And months.  And MONTHS.  And YEARS to work on getting an audience for your book.  Should you try to get an initial push of sales early on?  Yes, I think you should so that you have more copies floating around out there that people will potential share, give, or otherwise put in front of other people's eyes.  That will lead to more sales as people say "Hey, I want a copy of that for myself."  The virtual shelf space is basically unlimited, so your book can remain active and ready for purchase for a very long time.  And when people search for you or your book title, they will find it in stock and ready to buy, which will lead to more money for you.

Here's another thought for you too:  with going the self-publishing route, you maintain control over all of your rights.  Digital, print, foreign, movie, audio, and any other subsidiary right that might be discovered and potentially exploited in the future.  This means that you are the master of your fate.  You can understand exactly what rights you are giving away for each contract, and you should also have a good understanding of what doing so will mean for your pocketbook.  Many publishers' contracts are not balanced in favor of the author.  What?!  I must be joking, right?  Well, no, actually, I'm not kidding.  It pays to read through and fully understand what your contract says.  Trust me when I say that I've seen and dealt with publishing contracts that I wouldn't sign without major changes if I was the author.

In the end, some people might say that I am crazy for self-publishing.  But, I'm convinced they think that way because they are too scared to give it a try themselves.  Why can't you write a novel and put it out as an ebook yourself, even though you have 10 novels under contract right now?  Give it a try and see for yourself.  It isn't that painful, and you might just enjoy the process, and you'll definitely learn a ton.  Happy writing (and self-publishing)!


writeonwithsheila said...

Interesting article. And one that has made me think about the e-book craze that isn't going to stop, short of a hurricane. Everyone is bemoaning the fact that people don't go to a store and buy a book now - and much as I bemoan along with them, I'm beginning to think e-books are the way forward.
But do you have to guarantee X-number of hard copies with Amazon before they list you? Now, that bit, to me sounds pretty daunting - and possibly costly. Talk to me?

Darren Kirby said...


"do you have to guarantee x-number of hard copies with Amazon before they list you?"

A: not at all. If you do your paperback book through CreateSpace, you'll be listed from day 1 before you even have any sales. They do POD (Print On Demand), so they have no inventory to stock - it's a beautiful thing!

As for cost, that's cheap as well. Again, because they only print books when they are ordered, they have no warehousing costs. And they have the printing costs of each book paid for when someone orders a copy, so they aren't out anything. It can't get much easier than that.

If you are wondering if you should do it, stop wondering - and do it! You'll be glad you did. Cheers!

writeonwithsheila said...

P.S. I'm now following your blog - if you're interested in checking mine out, I'm a 'blogger' too on:

writeonwithsheila said...

This message was supposed to be first but I cocked it up!
Yep, I'm convinced about Amazon. How wonderful.
You're a superstar Darren! And thank you so much for the info.

Darren Kirby said...

Thanks again, Sheila!

Diana said...

HI Darren, I happened on your blog from LinkedIn and I totally agree with your assessment of the market! Yep, e--books are going to be the way of the future. However, printed copies aren't going out for a long time, thank goodness. There's something just right about holding a "real" book and sniffing the pages. I am a self-published Australian writer from southeast Queensland. When you have a moment, please do visit my site:

Darren Kirby said...


I agree, printed books aren't going away, though the sheer volume of print books will be less than it has been. But, this is why POD (Print On Demand) is the answer - it allows for print books to be maintained as a viable option without the need for massive warehouses to store the books.