A while ago, I asked Dan Holloway, indie publisher and advocate of the self-publishing model to comment on the advisability of self-publishing.
Since that post, I get regular visits to this blog from people who have searched for the exact question that is the title of this post.
Should I self-publish?
I can almost unequivocally say that if you’ve reached this post by searching for those words on Google, and your book is fiction, and not of the variety that you just want to pass around your immediate family, then the answer should be an equally unequivocal: NO.
No, you should not self-publish fiction, unless one or more of these things apply (the more, the better):
– you have a ready-made audience of at least a few hundred people. This could come through your gaming or fan fiction contacts, or your long-term presence as a member of a community of fiction writers. It doesn’t matter. You need this audience.
– You know how the book trade works.
– you are re-publishing a collection of stories that have already been published, and for which you know there is an audience. Ditto if you’re self-publishing to keep older books to which you own the rights in print.
– you have serious credentials as writer, so your name attracts buyers. You’ve published books with big publishers, or you’ve sold stories to respected magazines.
– you understand that paying a copy-editor to go through your work does NOT qualify as ‘the book has been edited’. Books will need copy-editing, sure, but more important than that, a book will need editing on a larger scale for flow, tension and continuity. You can NOT do this yourself. You can NOT ask a friend or your crit group to do this. This is one part where it really pays to get someone who knows the market and knows books. These people are expensive, very much so. Don’t skimp on this part of the process. Yet none of the self-published books I’ve read have gone through large-scale editing by a professional editor. It shows. It really does. As a result, a lot of sub-standard fiction gets published. You have a book you’ve worked on for long hours. Do you really want to add to this unsorted slush pile?