Self-publishing vs. Big-house publishing

If you are a writer, you are probably considering whether to self-publish or go through one of the big publishing houses to get your novel out there. Lately, this is a choice that most writers have to consider seriously. While and do not have an official recommendation one way or another, I thought it would be a good idea to examine some the most talked about reasons to self-publish — or not.

It’s all about the recognition

Let’s face it: the big publishing houses (familiarly known as the “big six”) still have the respect and recognition of the reading community. The general feeling is that if the big-name publisher thought it was good enough for publication, it probably is indeed good. For a writer, the kind of validation that comes with being successfully published by one of the “big six” is near-priceless.

But what does it say about the self-confidence as a writer if validation from one of the big-six is what is needed to succeed? That sounds like seeking validation from the very people who might tear you down. While there is nothing wrong with seeking validation from the perceived experts in the business, if validation is all you are looking for, there are other ways to get it.

New to publishing?

If you are new to publishing, you will most likely want a navigator, a mentor; someone who already is familiar with the industry and can advise you on its best practices. Believe it or not, there are several considerations to be made when publishing. To name a few: book promotions, editing, marketing, outlets and agents, typesetting, etc.

Self-publishing is still relatively new and so “experts” are yet to emerge in the field. It is not as straight forward as you might think. There are multiple skill-sets that are required: thorough knowledge of the publishing business and a working knowledge, at least, of the computer and internet as it pertains to eBook publishing to name just two.

What do you write about?

Of course, if you write mainstream fiction, you are likely to have a less arduous road than say a nonfiction writer when you self-publish. The readership for mainstream fiction is larger and navigated far more easily than any other genre.

One of the points made in this article by Edan Lepucki is that genres such as literary fiction do not get as much recognition and critical acclaim when self-published. And while that statement might generate a great deal of ire, the fact is that the most popular books tend to be mainstream fiction.

Amanda Hocking writes mainstream adult fiction; as does John Locke. They are both Kindle direct publishing success stories and the poster children for self-publishing. Their success makes it easy to say that self-publishing is possible and even lucrative. The problem is that their successes don’t stand on their own. There is a lot more to their success than you might imagine.

The business of publishing

If you’ve already been published, then you already know that marketing and promoting your book is more than half the job. Quite simple, if the public does not know about you, they will never read you. Furthermore, knowing about you and your book is hardly enough to entice the average reader to pick up your book. Something about how you present you and your book should appeal to them; make them want to read your book. To buy it, read it and recommend it to others.

There are tons of resources out there to help you learn the best possible ways to promote your book. I have found that, for one, has a large collection of articles and guides from those in the industry. There is no doubt that you can learn to promote your book on your own.

The question for the writer considering self-publishing is: are you willing to put as much time, possibly more, into learning how to promote your book after spending so much time and energy writing it?

Another consideration to be made is editing and design. The “big six” spare little or no expense to ensure that the finished product, your book, is as perfect as it can be in every way. They spend a great deal of time and money on hiring the best talent to design the cover of your book, typeset the content, ensure it is grammatically sound from cover to cover, and to promote it to the most visible places globally.

A writer on a tight budget may not be able to get the same results from the resources available to them. Experienced editors and cover designers, unless you already have someone to do it for you, do not come cheap. Compromising on quality is not necessarily the best way to start out in the field either.

What can you handle?

Chances are, you may enjoy the journey and be pleased with the results once you have reached your destination — that of being successfully self-published. The point is that writing a book is only the first part of the process. Self-publishing demands a great deal more from a writer than just writing. The decision to self-publish, then, requires a dedicated focus on not only the art of writing, but also the business of writing and publishing.

Besides, as one writer put it: “It’s not either or“; there is no reason why, as a writer, you can’t choose both roads. There are many writers who have not only self-published eBooks but also traditionally published works as well.

Thanks for reading. Find more similar entries filed under Writing or visit the blog homepage for more great content from your friends at