Mile 38: Self-Publishing – Yes or No?

What do self-publishing and online dating have in common?

Both used to be thought of as signs of desperation and failure. No longer.

Self-publishing is now a perfectly respectful avenue to take in order to get your book out to the paying public. Many argue that online dating apps are much safer than bars — and it can also be argued that self-publishing has quite a few advantages over “traditional” publishing. I’ll leave the dating option for you to figure out, but I will weigh in on the self-publishing debate.

So, what are some of the advantages of self-publishing?

  1. You maintain 100 percent control over your books — in terms of content and presentation, as well as financially.
  2. You do not have to share your revenue with publishing houses, agents and/or managers.
  3. Your book will be published and available to the public much sooner.

There are also downsides to not going the traditional route, including:

  1. No placement (probably) in major bookstores.
  2. No major media reviews (probably).
  3. No major marketing support.

Self-publishing is no longer “vanity press,” but a legitimate publishing and business option. If you like having control, are willing to do the marketing work, have a fair understanding of computers and software (for creating and uploading your book), and are anxious to see your book published, self-publishing may be your very best option.

If you simply want to write and not worry about anything after that (editing, proofing, cover selection, marketing, promotion, etc.), then going the traditional route (agent and publisher) may be your best answer. Of course, unlike self-publishing, this is not necessarily in your control. You’ll need to find an agent first, and then he/she will have to find a publisher willing to take you on.

Should you choose to go the self-publishing route, which is what I did with my first two books until I got a call from Dusty Saddle Publishing, there are a variety of options. That being said, I’m going to focus on one — CreateSpace.

CreateSpace is the self-publishing arm of Amazon, and in my experience, 95 percent of those who self-publish go through CreateSpace. Actually, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, but I figure there has to be, so I’m going with 95 percent.

Inside of CreateSpace, you’ll find Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and by going through them, you’re able to publish both your print and digital books. Many writers are opting not to go the paperback route (and almost no Western writers publish hardcovers anymore). Instead, they simply make their books available for sale on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited (both of which I’ll discuss in a separate blog post). I’m old-fashioned enough to still want a paperback, but that’s completely up to you.

Once you get to their website, it’s pretty self-explanatory. It can take some time to go through the process (one of the reasons you’re not paying an agent or manager is because you’re willing to do the work yourself, remember?), especially with the first book you publish. So be prepared for that.

I will also caution you. CreateSpace makes quite a few mistakes — or at least they have with my books, whether I did them or my publisher did. Pages can be upside down or out of order. Words, even paragraphs, can be left off the end of a chapter. What I mean to say is, proof it before you hit “go.”

In the end, it’s up to you which way to go, and there is no set answer. You need to do what works best for you.

I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].

Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!



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