Thursday, June 19, 2014

When Not to Self Publish

"Should I self publish this?" is a question I hear a lot from other writers, from students. My usual response is "Without having read it, I can't tell you much." This is true. But what I'm about to say is, I think, also true.

If you're asking this question, you shouldn't self publish.
I know. Mouths just dropped. Everyone and their brother self publishes. Why shouldn't I? Well, you should, maybe. Just not now. If you're not confident enough in your book to self publish without seeking input from others, somewhere in the back of your mind a voice is telling you this could be better. Listen.
In 2010, I wrote this book I loved. My betas loved it. My teen beta said she would cry if it didn't get published. (It was YA). It garnered 100+ rejections. Screw it. I was going to self publish it. Who needs an agent, anyway?  My husband and cp were both encouraging me to self publish. But I was hesitant. Self publishing was new at the time and everyone said if you put out a bad book you'd never write again. I couldn't afford a freelance editor and even as a newer writer I understood no good could come from publishing without an editor. And one thing I hoped an editor would be able to tell me was if I should self publish. By situation, I was forced to shelve it. Thank God! My writing has improved so much since then.
Flash forward a year later and I queried a novella to a handful of small presses with an overwhelmingly positive response. When I decided to publish The Fate of A Marlowe Girl, I never doubted it. There was nothing wrong with the writing because others were interested. An editor wanted a second round "revise and resubmit" and I felt like this could go on forever without a contract ever being offered. So I self published. As an MFA student now, I can see how going back and forth with that editor years ago would have shaved lots of time off my journey, and if I had it to do over I might well do a few more rounds before one of us called it quits. Still, the story and language were solid.

P.S. You can sign up for my August plot and blurb class here.


  1. That's a very good point. Many aspiring writers ask that question, but if they have to ask then they aren't ready. After you do research and perfect your manuscript, you will know whether you should self-publish or not.

    Great post, Beth!

  2. Hi Beth! This is Kristin, one of your fellow UB moderators. This is the exact question I've been asking myself the past few days about my first contemporary romance novel that an editor recently suggested might be better categorized as women's fiction. I know it doesn't fit the typical romance mold because it is a sweet, clean romance. So now, I'm trying to figure out if I shelve it, keep querying to small pubs, or hire an editor and self-pub. I loved readying about your own journey. Thanks for sharing! :)