Self Publishing for Authors – the Highs and Lows

Self publishing
The Light of Drombar – Children’s Fantasy

I first embarked on the self publishing route a few years ago when I decided to publish my two books, Out of Time and The Light of Drombar using FeedaRead. Then, three months ago, I decided to re-publish on Amazon’s own publishing home, Createspace.  This would make it easier to access both paperback and Kindle editions of my books in the same place.  So, how difficult could it be?  Three months later, three sets of proofs each, and much hair pulled out, I have finally approved the last proofs, and they are now live to buy!

It’s not that Createspace is hard to use.  It’s just that I am an impatient about reading instructions and formatting guides.  I think I’ve got it right…and then when the proof arrives, I find the page numbering has gone weird and the margins are too narrow.  Oh, and don’t ask me about how to start page numbering on a specific page…!

But really – I am very pleased with how the books look with the Createspace programme.  I just find the technical process of getting a book from the computer manuscript to actual printed book to be rather stressful and ‘a bit of a bother’.  It starts out as fun, and ends up with lots of swearing and dark mutterings.

BUT, I am SO grateful that we writers are able to actually do this.  Twenty years ago, the only chance we had of being published would be to get a publisher interested, and before you could do that, get an agent interested.  Given that most of them have about 3,000 manuscripts landing on their desks every month, and take on about five authors per year, the chances were always minimal, no matter how talented you were.

So hurrah for technology, the internet and print-on-demand!  Never again will I have to hear that horrible plop on the doormat as another rejected manuscript comes back home.  Today we writers have the freedom to publish for very tiny costs, set up our own websites and sell our own books in any way we can.  This gives us an autonomy that we have never had before.

Weighing Up the Advantages and Disadvantages

The downside? Yes, you have to do all your own marketing, but then many writers who are published in the mainstream press have to do that anyway. You also have to do your own formatting, art work and proof-reading (or pay someone to do it for you), which is, admittedly, a bore. And of course, because anyone can self publish, it means there are a lot of books out there that are, let’s say, less than deserving of being read – but Amazon reviews, while sometimes being a little harsh, will certainly sort out the wheat from the chaff. Perhaps there is less chance of making lots of money with a book, but then does anyone really ever write a book in order to make lots of money?

But in my view, the advantages of self publishing far outweigh the traditional route. Even if you are lucky enough to get picked up by a publisher, it will be many months before you see your book in print. With self publishing, you can get your book into print and on sale within days of completing your final draft. Not only that, but in traditional publishing, you do not always have a choice over the artwork or title, and many decisions about your book will be made over your head. Furthermore, any royalties are paid twice a year, whereas with self-publishing you will be paid every month.

Autonomy and Freedom

It is the autonomy of self publishing that I love.  I have always been an independent person, and it suits me just fine.  You can build your writing career in any way you want to. If you want to write in a particular genre, re-write and re-publish, publish e-books on Kindle and set yourself up in the way that suits you, then you have the total freedom to do so without someone breathing down your neck saying what you can and can’t do.

You can be the kind of writer you want to be.  I’ll drink to that!