Self Publishing Fears

It’s great that authors now have so many ways to publish their writing.  There are still traditional publishers in addition to the booming on-line publishing possibilities and with the advent of sales outlets like Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Nobel, all within reach of your computer’s browser.  Self publishing has never be easier.

Nor has it ever been more confusing or more in flux.  Every week I read of “Indie Authors” who’ve made it big or who have had their books picked up by mainstream publishers and onto fame and glory.

At least that’s the dream isn’t it?  Come on, in your deepest writer’s heart and most secret daydream aren’t you thinking up answers to Oprah’s questions for after you’ve been selected for the book of the month club?

Maybe that’s just me.

The sad fact is failure faces many who attempt to self-publish.  It takes a lot to be successful and few writers are truly up to the challenge.  First there is the writing, then the book design, the marketing, sales channels, arranging the press tour and so on.  It’s daunting at the least and hard work at the best.

I am not saying that the traditional publisher route is any easier with obstacles like finding an agent, query letters, sending manuscripts, and dealing with near constant rejection.  Sounds like fun right?

If you haven’t completely given up on writing by now, let me state some fears I have about self-publishing.

1. Writers will stop editing when they’re not forced to.

I’ve read a few self-published books.  A few very good. Some okay, but most need the hand of a good editor.  At least hire a copy editor folks.  One thing a good publisher will do is to invest in editing and making sure the manuscript fits the market and is free from most errors.  Too many self-publishers seem to think they can cut corners on this or somehow think their work doesn’t have problems.

2. All blogs will become sales platforms and I’ll be afraid to read them.

I swear that half the people who follow me on twitter are sales or marketing types hoping I’ll be so grateful for a follower that I’ll follow them back.  You’d be surprised the number of new followers I get who are trying to sell something.  Maybe you wouldn’t.  And for those of you thinking of starting a “how to self-publish” website – it’s been done and I don’t need another blog post on how to set up my Create Space account.

3. The number of “How to Self-Publish” and “How to Make a Million with Your Blog,”  websites, will hit 20 million by next Thursday.

‘nuff said.

4. The slush pile will move from the publishing houses editor’s desk to mine.

When you buy a book from a traditional publisher, you know that for every one they published, hundreds were read and discarded.  Thousands more weren’t even read. Thank you editor for saving me from having to sort through a thousand books to find a good one.  In the last year I’ve read six self-published books.  I only recommend one.  Two I couldn’t read all the way to the end.  One I read all the way though because it was like watching a train wreck.  You know, you can not watch the mayhem. Two I made notes of what not to do in my book.

Now traditional publishers do publish trash from time to time so I do have just one comment for them: You read a thousand books and published this trash?  Dudes, please.

5. Publish scams and fraud will increase.

When you get large numbers of people thinking they can be a big success doing something, the con artists will move in.  I’ve seen any number of websites selling publishing services you don’t need and the bad guys out to steal your money can smell desperation.  They know how to pull your strings and separate you from your cash without giving anything in return. If you do go down the self-publishing route, watch out for offers that are too good to be true and do your research to find reputable people to deal with.

6. If people can publish their own books they’ll start making their own movies and TV shows.

Wait, that’s YouTube.

And a subject for another day.

Till next week,

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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26 Responses to Self Publishing Fears

  1. “Dudes, please.” Haha! I bought and read an acquaintance’s self-pubbed book to be nice and supportive. By the end I was just skimming to get through it and to say I read it. Now he wants me to put a review on amazon. I’m avoiding it because I can’t in good conscience put up a nice review, and I have no desire to give him a lousy one. I’m kind of just hoping he’ll forget he asked. :/


  2. JoHanna Massey says:

    You seem to have named the demons, Andrew. The fear of fraud and scam looms large because not only does it cost money to self publish, but it is your from the heart creative project involved. The idea of it becoming used by fraud or scam creeps is just awful.

    You are doing the research, keeping your ego out of it, and taking it slowly. I am confident you are going to choose rightly.


  3. Baydreamer says:

    All true thoughts, Andrew, and I confess to two self published poetry books. I ventured into this realm, however, with the attitude of creating a keepsake for my family and friends, and if I’m lucky to sell any to the big public, then that is the reward. Mine did sell and they are selling, but I won’t get rich from the sales, nor do I wish to. Proceeds from my second book go to another foundation in honor of my daughter anyway, so that tells you I wasn’t in it for the money. Although, to self publish is to spend and it’s not inexpensive. I felt confident with the publisher, but was recommended by a friend who used them. And yes, I posted several plugs on my blog and on Facebook, but that’s what marketing is all about. If you sell just one from those plugs, then the job is done. Marketing isn’t my forte, though, because I don’t want to cause others to hide behind parked cars just to avoid my post. 🙂
    I will admit to dreams of a conventional publisher, but for poetry, one has to be dead or already a famous author. I’m neither, so I’m not holding my breath; life goes on. Just have fun with whatever you decide, and don’t be too serious. Sorry for the novel! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The key is know why you’re publishing. I know a number of folks who self-published poetry books or memoirs for family and friends. The print on-demand features of services like Create Space are perfect for this. But you need to be realistic about what your doing and why.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Debra says:

    i’m not writing a book, have never said I was, and have such a generalist blog that it couldn’t possibly translate to a book, YET, I receive phone calls from organizations willing to help me self-publish, and blog and Twitter followers doing the same. I don’t now how a serious writer wades through it all, Andrew. To say that the publishing industry is i flux is a huge understatement. I do wish you well. It’s the authors of today who I think are going to inevitably change the direction of publishing and book promotion. The experts aren’t the experts any longer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am convinced that in 3 to 5 years, the whole state of publishing will have changed again. Even the state of blogs and websites is changing. I’ve been in the computer business for 36 years now and each year the rate of change just gets faster and faster. E-readers, desktop computers and even laptop computers are rapidly becoming things of the past. Even the concept of ‘book’ is somewhat archaic as I think future texts will exist largely outside the bounds of simple printed pages.

      Sometimes it drives this poor simple poet to despair. Oh no, I feel a poem coming on. Back later…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. YAPCaB says:

    Quite an involved process, but I’m sure you’ll learn a lot and have fun (some of the time) going thru it.

    I also have tons of followers that are trying to sell me something. I wish there was a delete follower button.


    • I am learning a lot as I move through the steps to get my book out there. It’s amazing how fast you figure out who’s interesting your writing and who’s trying to sell something.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have my entire book tour already planned lol I so relate Andrew 😀 Keep going after your dream, I think you have the talent and it will be recognized by so many others. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I must say, I agree with every one of those. On the other hand, I have quite a few self-pubbed books that sell nicely. None are fiction, so maybe that’s the difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    • These are just fears and a number of folks have been able to do well self-publishing. I do find non-fiction self-pubbed books to be generally better than fiction. Likely because the writers tend to be experts in their field. People who are going the indie route need to be aware of what they’re getting into and all the work that’s needed.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Chris White says:

    Great post Andrew. Full of wisdom from yourself and your commenters. I am working on a book series. I’m now seeking an agent. I don’t want to go down a self-publising route where I am offered various publishing packages. It’s risky whatever route you choose. Having said that, the author who wrote The Martian self-published and was picked up by a mainstream publisher. It’s a bit of a literary minefield out there.


    • There are a number of success in the self-publishing world. Famously, Walt Whitman self-published ‘Leaves of Grass’ before it was picked up by a mainstream publisher. The trick is knowing what you’re capable of and being honest about your abilities.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JoHanna Massey says:

        And then Walt wrote anonymous reviews touting the how scandalous, vulgar and immoral the book was ….which was his bit of clever ticket to creating interest and boosting his sales.
        Not that I recommend you do that Andrew.


  9. All true, I fear!


  10. Annika Perry says:

    It’s a complicated world out there regarding publishing that’s for sure. Whilst opening up so many new opportunities there are many pitfalls as well. There are pros and cons for both traditional and indie publishing but if taking the latter route editing has to be key in the final stages.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. alexseidler says:

    I’ll admit it I have thought of a question and answer on Oprah show before. You’re not the only one. You have an interesting personal backstory. Look forward to reading more of your posts.


    • Thanks for stopping by. I think you’re right, a lot of us have done that Oprah interview in our heads. I aim for a new essay every Sunday and something on woodworking on Wednesdays.


  12. Carrie Rubin says:

    Interesting insights. The many avenues of publication have definitely changed the publishing world. I think what you mention in #5 is especially important for writers to remember. There are a lot of scams out there. Luckily there are some sites to guide us. Writers Beware is an excellent resource and an important blog to follow.

    Great post.


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