Sooooooo I’m finally going to tackle a question that I personally have been wondering about for going on five years now, and that I’ve heard many a person asking on Instagram and in the blogosphere: Should you self-publish?
To be honest, I’m probably not the person who should be answering this question, seeing as I’ve published exactly one nonfiction guide and one fiction novel. If I’m being honest, it’s probably a better idea to talk to either a successful self-published author or someone who has tried and given up on the prospect.
Why? Because their stories are bound to be richer and more informed than mine, which has lasted about four months at this point. That’s less time than it took Frodo to get the ring to Mordor.
(If we’re being thorough in our Tolkien references, it’s also less time than it took Bilbo to help Thorin Oakenshield reclaim the Lonely Mountain. I’m just saying.)
But I do have one thing to offer, which is recent experience and hardcore enthusiasm. So today, that’s what I’m bringing to you.
Why should you self-publish? Here’s one newbie author’s list of reasons, so grab a cup of tea and listen up.
When you think about becoming an author, what motivates you? Is it the fame and fortune, or is it the love of the craft? If you dream of writing every day, I’m betting your focus is no the latter, not the former.
Despite this, the most common objection to self-publishing is that people might not read your books. Um … so? So what if you’re not a household name? Who really cares?
Think about it like this: By publishing your own work, you give yourself the chance to make something of your writing. Who knows? If you work hard enough, one day you might be able to write books every day, for a living.
Personally, I’m not there yet … but I am making money from fiction, which has been my dream for as long as I can remember. I call that a win.
I’d say the most common concern that crops up when you’re wondering whether or not to self-publish is that it will somehow stand in your way when it comes to getting a traditional book deal.
That’s dumb. It won’t.
Now, I’m not saying it will get you a traditional book deal, although you do see examples of people who have published their own work and then landed big contracts: Jeff Goins, for instance, and he’s not the only one.
Here’s the real math, though: If you self-publish and are good, you’ll either continue to sell on your own and love it, or you might get picked up. If you self-publish and don’t make the cut, well, you likely wouldn’t have landed a traditional book deal anyway. So there’s no harm in trying.
So much fear accompanies creativity. But … why? What really happens if you put a book online and it doesn’t sell?
Or there would be a lot of self-publishing-failure-related deaths. And there aren’t.
What you’re really looking for is an excuse to write all the time. A goal toward which to work. So go get that goal.
This is my favorite reason: You have the right to tell your story.
Storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions, and one of the best. In fact, storytelling might just be the closest we humans can come to shared spirituality. It has been the foundation of culture since prehistoric times … in other words, since before we were physically writing those stories down, but were still telling them.
Why on Earth would you allow someone else the deciding vote on whether or not you should put your stories out into the world? Others, after all, can choose to read what you write or not … there’s no need for you to limit yourself for fear of what they will say.
Should you self-publish? Um, duh. You should.
Normally I try to wrap up with something inspirational and/or deep, but today I got nothing other than the fact that I feel really, really strongly about your right to try. Nay, your duty.
THAT IS ALL.
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