For a lot of would-be authors, that is the question, isn’t it?
Actually, it’s a relevant question for published authors as well, but let’s take the would-be authors side of the coin today. With two books published, I’m not all that far removed from those days.
When I got back into fiction writing four years ago, I didn’t realize how many books were self-published. I must not have been paying attention, I guess. I count myself lucky that I wasn’t.
The upside of self-publishing is huge. Sure, it’s a lot of hard work, but you don’t have to share your royalties with a publisher who takes forever to release your book and does little to no work to promote it. (Sorry publishers, but that’s the perception.)
What’s not to love about self-publishing?
Well, for one, you give up a prime opportunity to improve your writing skills when you start out with self-publishing.
I have yet to meet a single author who doesn’t think they are a cut above when it comes to writing. You have to have at least a little bit of ego to be an author. It’s what drives us to actually submit our stories.
But with self-publishing you have no one to critique your stories, to point out your weaknesses, to show you how you could be better. Your self-published story may sell a lot, but if you’re like most authors, it probably won’t. Was it your story? Did you not promote it enough? Do you totally suck at this business?
You may never know.
Yes, you can get reviews by people who both love and hate your stories, but those are opinions. The reviewer may love your story or not, but reviews aren’t detailed critiques of your writing ability – usually. They certainly aren’t in the category of constructive criticism. They have nothing to gain by helping you become a better writer.
Your publisher does.
When you take the traditional publishing route, even the rejection letters can give you additional insights into how to improve your stories. Once you have a manuscript accepted, the editing process give you even further insight into how to improve your writing craft: using strong verbs, avoiding author intrusion, removing unnecessary backstory.
And chances are, you’ll learn something new from each new editor you work with. Like authors (which many of them are) editors all have their unique strengths. (And strange pet peeves, but that’s a topic for another post!)
As always, this is just my opinion. Whether you are a would-be author considering self-publishing or a published author who has answered the question “to self-publish or not to self-publish?” let us hear from you.