Myths of Self-Publishing

Every day I get a a handful of emails that all ask the same thing....

Why did you self-publish? Do you think self-publishing hurt your chances at a traditional career?

The truth: I got my right back from my publisher only four weeks out from my publication date. I freaked because I had planned two book signings, a release party, and told everyone that Carpe Bead 'em was going to be published.

I jumped in feet first, contacted a few self-published authors for some guidance and learned everything I could to get my novel released on the release date that had already been scheduled.

It was the best thing that I ever did for my career. Does that mean that I'm against traditional publishing? Absolutely not. I believe in all roads to publication and doing what is best for your career.

BUT...self-publishing is not for everyone. Some people have to get over the stigma of self-publishing. I really don't care what people think of me. I only care about what my readers think of my books. So if a stigma is holding you back, you should really check that ego at the door and weigh the pros and cons of self-publishing.

There are many pros and cons. But today I wanted to blog about the second question....the myths of self-publishing.

1) If you self-publish your book, a traditional publisher will not pick it up.

Ummm. . .NOT TRUE!
Take a look at Jessica Park's FLAT OUT LOVE. Jessica published FLAT OUT LOVE a year ago. Sold a crap load, got the attention of so many readers, got the buzz and then got picked up by Amazon.
Then you have John Locke, Amanda Hocking, and E.L. James (that 50 book;)), those are just the big names. There are a lot more mid-list self-published authors getting their novels picked up by agents and publishers on a daily basis.

Just like you, they check out those bestsellers list on a daily basis. Trust me, they want to make a dollar too, and their ego doesn't get in the way when they send you an email wanting a little bit of your success.

2) Real readers won't find me because I'm not in TARGET!

Welcome to the twenty-first century, my friend! Have you heard of a little gadget called an EREADER?
They sell those in TARGET and all major bookstores!
Readers don't care who you are published by as long as you give them a good book. TRUST ME! When I say that I did a lot of research before I published Carpe Bead 'em, this was one of those things that I took serious.

Sure I had my writer friends, but readers are my target audience NOT my writer friends. Luckily I had gained a rather nice following of readers by interacting with them before Carpe Bead 'em was published, so I had asked several questions about ereaders and publishers. They couldn't even name who their favorite authors were published with. have to write a good book that readers will enjoy and they will NEVER think about who the publisher is.

If that's so important to you, you can make up a name and stick it in the 'PUBLISHERS' box when you upload it to each ereader. I just leave it blank because....I don't care if readers know I'm self-published.

3) Self-published authors couldn't make it traditionally so they self-published.

Sigh....Did you read that I GOT MY rights back from my publisher?

Once I self-published, I didn't turn back. I will always self-publish, but I didn't turn back from traditional either. (I do have some traditional irons in the fire, but this is only because I believe in doing everything.)

In some ways, self-published authors are more comfortable in their writing than traditional authors. Self-published authors are not running with the herd, they aren't the sheep. It takes guts to self-publish, and I love confidence!

4) Self-published books suck and are full of mistakes.

I agree that there are a lot of crap books out there, but that includes traditional books too. Granted, a traditional book goes through six months of edits with an editing team. So why can't a self-published book?
It can!

If you are going to self-publish and your name is on that book, you should make sure that you are going to put out the best book out there.

Get an editor that will do edits more than ONCE, hire a great cover artist, get some beta-readers, join a critique group, etc....

5) Self-publishing is expensive and I want to write the book and sit back and get paid.

Self-publishing is not expensive or hard! Once I get my book out, I do sit back and get paid. . .monthly!

Over the years, it's become a lot less expensive to self-publish. It doesn't cost you a penny to upload to the various mediums. The only thing that will cost you is an editor and a cover.
Even print on demand has gotten so easy and inexpensive.

6) Self-published authors don't make money.
**insert cough**

I'll give you one hard fact....
I got a royalty check from my publisher (yes, I still have a couple books with a publisher) from a book I DO NOT EVEN PROMOTE for various reasons and the total was .64 CENTS for a total of 8 (I think it was 8. I know it wasn't more) books! That was a quarter statement.

I sell at least 100 books a day. That blows this myth out of the water! Granted I have ten books self-published, but still you do the math.

I'm not going to get into the logistics of advances and royalties from publishers because those vary, but I can tell you that traditional authors AREN'T getting least the mid-list ones, which are 90% of the traditional population.

I'm not here to sway you either way. Like I said, I believe in all roads to publication that gets a book in front of a reader. But these are the facts, you have to decide what is best for you and your career.


  1. Brilliant., again .. and BANG on the money .. self-publishing is a highly liberating experience.. the stigma of being able to do your own thing is rapidly melting away like the spring snows.. and I agree that pushing traditional publishing into the trash can is NOT the way to go either .. all options should be on the table ( as the politicians are so fond of saying ..!! ) ..

    great post Tonya

  2. You know - I think we should stop telling people the truth. I think we should just sigh and look wistful - like we wish we could have gotten a trade publishing contract.

    It gets tedious, having to prove the same things over and over again.

  3. Tonya,

    I always want to print your articles, so I can show them to my friends and family. Some of them just can't understand why I prefer to stay Independent.

    I like what K.A. said!

  4. Thank you Tonya for telling it like it is. :-)

  5. Wonderful feedback for indies. Thanks for sharing! Right On!

  6. Just found this blog through my friend Janice Hardy, Tonya--some great stuff here!

    Everything you say is correct. Especial kudos for stressing the need for editing/copyediting--unedited and poorly-formatted work not only will make the writer look bad, but also hurts the entire indie field.

    I'd add that though a self-published book may take time to 'ramp up', once it gets going through word-of-mouth and there's a sales spike on Amazon, it'll bootstrap itself via Amazon linking and cross-promotion ('readers who bought this book also', etc.) and you'll tend to stay there. My own nonfiction travel memoir, 'Aegean Dream' barely sold for six or seven months after publication; then, in early Spring, as Brits started planning summer holidays in Greece, it suddenly took off; and it once it started getting into the top 2-3 books in its subcategory (it was #1 Kindle UK>Greece> Nonfiction for 3+ months), it sold with the regularity of clockwork, and is still doing some 300+ a month.

    Another great thing about self-publishing is not the just the higher percentage royalty but also the regular payment and transparency of those royalties: Amazon--unlike trad publishing--doesn't play games with its authors (at least, not yet, LOL): you can check your Kindle sales in near-real time, and you take hits your bank account monthly after 60 days, as reliably as the sun rising.



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