Welcome to my blog where I will post commentary on issues ranging from fiction to public policy. Tucked away in the Idea Boxes are “how to” tips on a variety of projects that have become part of our family’s culture over the years. I hope you’ll find some useful ideas there. My blog will take you through the fantastic journey of writing and publishing fiction, as well as commentary on politics, cultural trends, book reviews and family.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Should I Self-Publish?

I finished a rough draft of my first novel about a year ago.  Since that time, it has inched along, dutifully slogging through its life cycle of reviews, rewrites, feedback, rewrites, comments, rewrites, professional edits, rewrites. 

The question now is this.  Do I select a digital print-on-demand self-publishing company and put my book out there, hoping the world will find it, or do I take the longer traditional route of seeking an agent and hoping to be picked up by an established publishing house?

I’ve thought from the beginning I would self-publish.  The book publishing industry is under stress.  The new digital technologies are getting better.  You can get a print-on-demand book out faster and cheaper and, if you’re successful, keep more of the proceeds.

True, you have to sell it yourself, but that seems to be the case these days even if you have a publisher.

But here’s the thing.  There are still advantages to having a traditional publisher.  For one, digital books don’t look as good as offset print books.  The covers are glossy and lighter weight than paperbacks printed by the big houses.  They are getting better, for sure, but you can tell. 

This wouldn’t be so much of a problem, were it not for the fact that too many books of poor quality have hit the market.  If you have a publisher, people at least assume a certain level of competence. 

Does that mean traditional publishing has become the new vanity publishing?

I don’t think I can wait another year to have a book in my hand. 

So we’ll see.


  1. I read a fair number of books, most of which I buy at the bookstore or order online and a few I get from the library. I'm not sure I've ever read a self-published book. My point is, self-publishing will not reach a lot of potential readers.

  2. It’s true that self-published books are harder to find in bookstores and libraries. Bookstores will often carry a few, but not in prominent locations. But thousands of self-published books are sold online and you may have read some of them without knowing it.

    There are two aspects of “self-published books”: the printing process and the path to market. Self-published books are printed using digital technology, often called “print on demand, or POD,” making it economically feasible to print 25 books at a time, let’s say, as opposed to traditional offset printing, where you can’t economically run fewer than about 3,000 copies. The path to market is somewhat different since self-published authors don’t have the marketing clout of a big publishing house, but Amazon will gladly carry their books and most promotion these days is online anyway.

    Digital printing has gotten much better and most readers would not be able to readily distinguish a self-published book.