Being A Self-Published Author; Is It Worth It?

This is a question I ask myself on a regular basis. And let me be honest, for many reasons, I would not choose to be self-published over having a decent traditional deal with the right publisher who knows how to market my books. Let’s get that out in the open. There are many proud indies out there who feel very differently, and I admire them greatly. Perhaps their books are selling so well they have been able to give up their day job. It does happen! Perhaps they are earning enough to keep a smile on their face and self-doubts at bay. Perhaps they are natural promotional and marketing wizards, or have experience in this area. I salute them.

But for many indies, the self-published route is a hard old slog. That’s not to say it’s without its joys and successes. It’s thrilling to finally publish a book. It’s exciting to work on a cover, and it’s challenging to learn how to craft a decent synopsis. There are a lot of positive aspects to self-publishing, and I would never ever deter anyone from trying it. You learn innumerable skills, you run your own business, you hit the ceiling with joy when your book connects with a reader so much they send you a personal message or leave a book review that blows your mind. Believe me, there is a lot of fun to be had.

But let’s take another look at the hard old slog of it. Let’s take a look at what it can take to get a book finished and out there, to push it and promote it, and then see a trickle of sales reward you. Let’s think for a minute what it is like to remember that literally millions of other indies are publishing books, that the market is swamped and that it is getting harder and harder to be seen and heard.

So, first, you write a book. Which might take a year or two out of your life. There will inevitably be blood, sweat, and tears. There will be semi-breakdowns and outright temper tantrums. There will be a neglected family and or partner who know you are never really listening to them when they talk. There will be a day job for you to try to focus on. There will be housework and life and this crazy, messed up world. But somehow, you do it.

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Of course, the hard work has only just begun. Now you must rewrite it, redraft it, edit it, proofreadΒ it, cry over it some more, enlist beta readers, cry some more when they tell you what sucks, feel like giving up, bang your head against the wall and do it all again, and again and again until you know it is done.

Then you try to find a publisher because you’ve heard how hard self-publishing is. You’ve heard that it costs money to edit, create a cover and get it marketed. You don’t know how to do all that stuff, so you want a publisher. You want someone of authority and experience to grab your book and demand to publish it. You want that recognition that all that hard work was worth it. That your book is worth it. That you are in fact, really and truly, a writer.

Next, you face rejection. You get sorry not for us, right now. You keep going because you know how many times Stephen King and JK Rowling got rejected, but eventually, you realise that self-publishing may be your only option.

If you are made of tough enough stuff, you don’t balk at this. You want to be published and decide to grab onto this adventure with both hands. So you start doing your research, network and make contacts, maybe go to workshops or events and you start to feel good about this. You can do this. This might even be fun! It’s a challenge!

can you tell I'mhaving fun-

You read articles and secure a cover and pen a synopsis and do everything the best you can, although you will always harbor a sneaking feeling that it all could have been much better with more money and experience behind it. You plan a book launch. Exciting, indeed.

Exhausting too. This was me the last few weeks, months even. Reading up, reaching out, building hope. Sending the book out to agreeable ARC reviewers, which is something I have not done before. I decided to focus more on reviews than sales with this book to see what difference that makes. Because everything with self-publishing is experimental and trial and error. No one thing works for sure. What works for one person will do nothing for another. You have to keep trying different things.

As I got closer to launch day, I panicked. I panicked that the book was not good enough. Two people found a few typos, so there was panic in getting these amended in ebook and paperback, and in both cases, I managed to mess up the formatting and had to ask for help to fix it all again. In the nick of time, all was well for release day. In a negative mindset by then, I decided that no one would come. No one would join in. Most of my FB friends had ignored it. What was the point? It wasn’t worth it. None of this was worth it. I was well and truly down about it. And feeling down about self-publishing is not a new state of mind for me, it’s a pretty regular one. I have down days and then something happens to lift me up again. It’s a good old fashioned roller coaster of a ride, all right.

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I spend a hell of a lot of time on this. Writing and crafting the books, keeping my social media and author platform engaging and consistent, reading and absorbing new trends and information. The list goes on and on. This is not a game for the faint hearted or the easily dissuaded. This is also not a game for anyone banking on instant success, money or fame.

Nevertheless, I persevered.

And launch day reminded me why.

Launch day reminded why self-publishing is worth it.

Launch day kicked off with 6 instant reviews on Amazon, courtesy of those amazing ARC reviewers. By the end of the day, I had 12 glowing reviews. One review was the longest I have ever had for any book! The reviews left me in no doubt that these readers had got the book, enjoyed the book and been affected by the book. Over the moon does not go close to revealing how this made me feel. I believe reviews are fuel to writers. They feed us and warm us and keep us going when we feel like quitting. These reviews will fuel my journey for some time to come.

Launch day saw my online Facebook party start at 1pm and end at 11pm. I managed to juggle this with childcare and domestic duties, and though I had been dreading it and wishing I hadn’t started it the day before, I ended up really, really loving it.

I shared news of my release in a Facebook group called Book Connectors, and had a great response there with a few people buying the book and coming over to join in the party. I’ve already had a great response from bloggers in that group for this book and some of the others. It’s been a brilliant group to be part of.

Feeling more confident, I launched the party and to my surprise, things really took off. Lots more people started joining, loads of people shared the event and each post and giveaway got a really great response. It was tremendous fun!

I sold some books, gained new likes and followers, enticed discussion, gained reviews and had a great time. A few days later and I am still selling books and gaining reviews. I keep telling myself to enjoy it while it lasts, and prepare myself for a slow down or a stall in sales. I am sure there will be another down day, another ‘this is not worth it day’, but until it comes I am determined to bask in the glory of the now and let people know how much I appreciate their help and support.

So, going back to my original question; is self-publishing worth it?

Yes.

Will you ever make back the money you spent?

Yes. One day you will.

Will you ever feel like you are worthy after the rejections of traditional publishing?

Yes. Given time, patience and increased work and attention to both your craft and your promotional activities, you will. Not all the time. But enough to keep you going.

Because self-publishing is one thing above anything else. It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance. It’s not easy, and it does not guarantee sales, reviews, recognition or respect. You have to earn all those things and yes, in time, they do come. It’s an opportunity to get better. To become a better writer with every book you produce, to become a better promoter, to improve your author platform, to network, to keep trying, to work harder and harder.

 

What do you guys think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject! Have you tried self-publishing? What are your thoughts on how easy or hard it is to succeed?

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Being A Self-Published Author; Is It Worth It?

    1. Thanks for reading, Gail! Hope all is well with you. Yes, I think you are right. Resilience is needed which ever route you end up taking. I often read stories of self-publishing success, and they all have some things in common, one of them being they didn’t give up. They kept writing more books and trying new things. So I think it’s always worth remembering that the successful people didn’t get there overnight!

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  1. Well done Chantelle. I was one of those involved in your party (also juggling work etc) and it was quite exciting and really good fun. It made me think of doing something similar one day which to date seemed too daunting. I self-published because I thought it was the only way I’d get short stories out there. And in the end I felt such a sense of achievement and I’ve met (either face to face or “virtually”) some really great people. Have I made any money yet? Probably not. Has it been worth it? Yes.

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  2. Thanks Paula! And thanks for your support on Friday! You should definitely do a launch when you have another book out. I’d been too scared to do it with all the others, but I’m so glad I did it now. I did do a Facebook party thing another time, when my page reached 1000 likes I did a thank you party with giveaways etc, so I suppose that served as a dummy run for this one! And I’m glad you feel your self-publishing was also worth it. Like you say, it does give you a great sense of achievement and who knows where it could lead too?

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  3. I have been wondering about this for quite awhile now and I’m still not sure if I’m confident enough to self-publish. I do like the freedom it brings, but I fear I will never live up to it and I will always mess things up somehow. I’m not sure (well, I still need to write the book and all before thinking about this). But it’s good to hear this kind of story and to know that there are people out there trying and going somewhere and having good experiences!
    And congratulations for your book release!
    All the best!

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  4. Thank you, Bia! I think when the time comes, it’s always best to do your research, as there are so many publishing opportunities and models out there now, and things are changing all the time! Which is exciting! Sometimes a good traditional publishing deal is the best thing to aim for, but that can have its own problems too. None of the routes are easy but I would never deter anyone from trying. It’s all about figuring out your options and then aiming for what you think will suit you. I’d never pretend that self-publishing is easy, but it certainly does have its moments of joy and achievement! Good luck with your book!! πŸ˜€

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  5. Congratulations! Being with a small indie publisher, as I am, is only a little less stressful than self publishing. I still have to do most of the promotion myself, which doesn’t come very naturally. The benefit of self-publishing is that you are ultimately in control, I guess. Well done for jumping through all the hoops and getting there!

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    1. Thank you, Kathy! Yes, I can imagine there is still a lot of promo for authors who are with small presses as well. It’s certainly a learning curve I think, unless you are natural at that kind of thing, which I am not either! But I think it’s worth a try, and I hope to gain new readers with each book and that will always be enough for me!

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  6. Much of this resonates with me, Chantelle, and I feel you pain and your joy!

    I’m so pleased you went for the leap of faith in yourself and congratulations on a successful launch and on those glowing reviews! ❀

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  7. I’m so glad it all went well for you on launch day! That’s fantastic.

    I love the idea of being involved in all aspects of the process and having full creative control, but I find self-publishing really intimidating. I’m not at all sure I’m organised enough to handle it, but it’s certainly something I’m looking into, as I know the odds of a traditional contract aren’t great. I’m thoroughly impressed by how you manage it all!

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  8. I loved your new book Chantelle and as you know am currently reading another. I am no where near finishing my book but like you I intend to self publish. I admire your determination and am so happy it’s paying off. I hope one day I’ll get to that point. Maybe I’ll pick your brains when the time comes πŸ™‚

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