My wonderful blogging, and soon-to-be-author, friend Raquel gave me a great idea for a blog last week: write about the benefits of self-publishing! I don’t think I could adequately write about the benefits without also addressing the drawbacks, as well as some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Even the drawbacks aren’t that bad, they are more along the lines of “things I didn’t know when I first decided to self-publish” but that is a bit wordy. Here goes nothing!
I did this.
I don’t mean that in a prideful way, but I feel a HUGE sense of accomplishment as the release date draws closer (TWO WEEKS FROM TOMORROW!). I wrote it. I (and some wonderful friends of mine) edited it. I designed the cover. I researched self-publishing options and then I did it. It is a feeling I simply can’t describe, only to say that you would just have to experience it for yourself.
I don’t know how much money I’d make if I had gone with a publisher, though from what I’ve read, the royalties I would have received would have been a drop in the bucket. Like I said last week, I didn’t write a book for the money. However, self-publishing means that whatever money I make is mine and doesn’t have to be split with a publishing company.
My own deadlines.
Nobody told me when I had to finish such and such chapter by. When I was writing it I went through some pretty big life changes and for a couple of weeks I missed the deadlines I had set for myself (which were, admittedly, pretty tough). The beauty of self-publishing is that I didn’t have a publisher breathing down my neck when I needed to take a week or two and heal my heart before I poured myself into the chapters.
The same is true when it came to publishing. I got to pick a release date that has personal and spiritual significance to me, not a publication date randomly chosen by the publisher. I also had the freedom to push the release date back if I needed to without breaking a potentially costly rule or contract that I had signed with a publisher.
No one telling me what to do.
This one is a benefit and a drawback. I didn’t have some big, fancy editor telling me to cut a chapter or tearing apart words that I have so carefully and prayerfully written. This book is, understandably, personal, so to have an editor who doesn’t know me come in and rip apart my work, or cause the death of a million red pens, would have been tough to take. On the other hand, the only person on the face of the planet who can say that they have read the final copy in its entirety is me. My wonderful friends and editors read chapters, but no one read the whole thing to check for flow and such. I could have hired someone to do that, but that wasn’t an expense I chose to take on. (I will also say that at least 5 people have read the whole book at some point along the way, but no one has read the final copy except me.)
I’ve heard of people naming their book and then when a publisher picks up the book they come in and change the book title, the chapter titles, the sub-headings, etc. Nobody did that to me!
Drawbacks/Things I Didn’t Know When I Signed Up For This Self-Publishing Project
No legal department backing me up.
This has been one of the biggest drawbacks for me. There has been no legal department to vet my book for things like music lyrics (which all had to be removed due to copyright laws and such), Bible translations that I can use, proper citations and credit given where credit was due, etc. I’ve learned a lot along the way, but it would have been nice to have someone else checking my work and helping make sure that I’m not going to get sued once the book comes out.
No one has read the whole thing.
Even after my editors have sent the chapters back I’ve found typos and things I wanted to change. I think the whole thing flows and makes sense and connects, but I’m biased. Without having a professional editor and/or publishing company behind me, I can’t say for certain that the flow is exactly what I think it is.
I don’t want to call the book a time-suck, but for lack of a better term it has been a bit of a time-suck for over a year now. Writing the book, editing the book, writing book proposals, researching self-publishing options, editing the book, marketing the book (which is HUGE, especially without a background in marketing), etc., etc., etc. takes up a lot of time! That work *could* have been lessened with a publishing company behind me.
Design and Formatting.
I had to design my book covers (front and back). I think they turned out pretty awesome and I actually had a lot of fun making them, though not everyone has any amount of graphic design/photo-shop skills. I also don’t have a background in marketing. While I certainly used some of my psychology background to appeal to a certain target audience with my cover designs, it might have been nice to have a pro helping me out. Then again, a publishing company might have hated my ideas for cover designs and gone their own way, leaving me crushed.
Formatting has been my pain lately. It literally took me over seven hours to get the page numbers, margins, chapter headings, and sub-headings to all line up. I’m so grateful for page numbers (and I think you will be, too), but having a company take care of all those little details for me would have been a huge help.
Despite all the setbacks I’ve had, I have learned A TON. I’m so grateful for all of the people who have helped me and prayed for me along the way. There is simply no way I could have done this on my own. That being said, self-publishing has been a great option for me. I feel a much bigger sense of accomplishment and ownership over every little detail than I would have if I had gone with an established publisher. That isn’t to say that publishers are bad, but in the end, I’m glad I self-published.
May God be glorified in it all!
(It isn’t too late to pre-order signed copies! Click here for more info! They make a great Mother’s Day gift, or a gift for your girlfriend, best friend, sister, daughter, niece, whoever! I’m happy to write a special note in the book!)
St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.
St. Matthias, pray for us.
Sts. Peter and Paul, pray for us.
All holy men as women, pray for us!