Why Did I Self-Publish?

It’s the question I get asked most often. Why forego the chance to sign with a major publisher by choosing to self-publish?

At first I wrote Worst-Kept Secret with the absolute intent of self-publishing. But as it was edited and I rewrote it multiple times, I started to think, You know what? Maybe this is good enough. Maybe I could sell this. So I wavered. I wavered for a while. I researched agents and publishing houses and paid attention to my friends who were authors. Eventually, I came back around to my original decision. Here’s why:

I’m ready NOW. It took me five years to write this book, time that also included learning how to do so. If I wanted to pursue traditional publishing, first I’d have to find an agent. Not only would I have to find an agent, I’d have to find the right agent. Frankly, that sounds pretty cool, as it would be nice to have an advocate. But then, he or she would have to sell the book. And then I’d have to wait months for publication. Maybe even a year. And after knowing for so long the thing I’ve always wanted to do, and finally doing that thing, I don’t have that kind of patience.

I’d have to do my own marketing anyway. Research and others’ experience tells me that unless you’re a surefire hit or a celebrity, I would be expected to market the book. So marketing-wise, it’s the same amount of work for me either way.

They don’t offer anything I can’t do myself. To my mind, the three biggest advantages of traditional publishing are professional editing and design, distribution, and prestige. Working backwards, I don’t care about prestige. Not anymore. And in today’s world, I can distribute pretty easily via Amazon and Createspace. (Even if I did get published traditionally, there is no guarantee you’d see my book in bookstores.) Knowing how important professionalism is, I’ve already invested in editing and a cover designer. I’m good.

I control it all. I own the entire process. I don’t wait on anyone. I keep all of the profit. Every last bit. Ultimately, I’m choosing to fail or succeed on my own merits. I like that.

Jamie McGuire. She doesn’t realize it and likely never will, but author Jamie McGuire changed my life. I first read her self-published novel, Beautiful Disaster, back in 2012 or so. It was an ebook, and it was cheap, and it had good reviews, and I had an hours-long ride ahead of me. So I bought it. It was nothing like any book I’d ever read before. My primary thought upon finishing it was: I can do this too.

Jamie McGuire, it turns out, turned that self-published book into a best-seller. And was picked up by a major publishing house. And then, you know what she did? She went back to self-publishing. The story’s all here.

If I were in a different stage of my life and more eager to please or get recognition, perhaps the road to traditional publishing would sound more appealing. But at this point in my life, it doesn’t.

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