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Five Reasons You Should Not Self-Publish Your Book

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Self-publishing has officially taken off, and lots of writers wonder whether they should bypass traditional publishing altogether and self-publish their work. Here are five good reasons it’s better to stick with the long and frustrating process of breaking into traditional publishing.

The following links will help you tell scams from legitimate publishers:

1. Writer Beware (http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/)

2. Preditors and Editors (http://pred-ed.com/)

3. Try Googling “[Publisher Name] Scam.” You’ll be surprised how often this is all you need.

Chris on Twitter: http://twitter.com/keeltyc
Chris on the Web: http://ChristopherKeelty.com


Lewbot says:

Thank you sooo much for posting <3

Steve bakker says:

Helpful. I've definitely got self-publishing on the back burner as I burn through the process of finding an agent. We will see….

AcctNo4 says:

want if you just want to go straight to adaptation?

Roman Wolujewicz says:

It seems obvious to me that the vast majority of self-published authors do not 'choose' it over traditional publishing. Instead, it is their only remaining option as they either aren't good enough and have been rejected a lot, have been unlucky or they just don't believe they will be accepted by 'the industry' and don't try.

BurritoMagnifico says:

don't follow this guys advice unless you want to be a self hating cuck like him

ShadeVlog: Writer says:

This is incredibly helpful! Thank you! Also, I have that curtain. Mine's blue.

Misha Gerrick says:

Your side of the argument kind of makes sense sense, but I'm a self-publishing writer after I've gone through the rough and tumble of publishing and got spit out on the other side.

Trade Publishing is a business, and an inefficient one at that. And no, they DON'T know what will be the next success, or else they wouldn't have had the non-starters and mid-lists in their history. Also. The marketing they give might dwarf what I can do of my own, but is it really worth 70+percent of my revenue? Or the cover? Or the editing?

See the whole thing that's jading me to the way trade publishing works is the way industry players are treating writers. I'm not talking about those getting rejected. I'm talking about how one said in so many words that "self publishing allows agents to cull out the truly fat cattle from the herd" or how a trade publishing editor said "we only take books where we are 90% certain that the book will be a success."

There's such a thing as a risk/return relationship. So why in the name of all that is holy should it be okay for a company to assume 10% of the risk, but between agents and publishers, about 85% of the gross returns go to them?

Because remember, of that 15% to 25% that the writer gets, another 15% goes to the agent that's required in order to get to the publishing house.

Then, there are the clauses that allow a publishing house to re-sell to another publishing house on terms of the second's choosing. Those terms would then be: A small percentage of revenue, so where publishers get say 70% percent from Amazon, from which the publishers give 15% to 25% to the writer, this secondary publisher will give say 10%, of which a percentage gets given through to the writer as per the contract terms, and a further percentage is given as a kick-back to publisher number 1, which is NOT COVERED BY CONTRACT. This means that actually, the writer only gets 1.5% to 2.5% of gross revenue, of which another 15% still has to go to the agent.

Net effect? Even successful writers selling millions of books potentially earn no more than a few thousand dollars a year.

So, given that I can set the price as my book gains popularity and given the royalty percentages I'm getting, it's actually a distinct possibility that my hypothetically moderately successful 1000 books sold would out-earn the 5-10k books sold through trade publishing.

Does that mean I'll automatically be successful because I self published? No, but trade publishing doesn't ensure success either, and because the industry seems more focused on hoarding cash and deflecting risk than… I don't know, DOING THEIR JOBS?! They're no longer really doing enough to justify a writer spending all their writing time trying to get the publisher's name under their own on the book's title page.

That's not to say I wouldn't trade publish, if the terms were favorable to both sides, as would actually be natural between the person originating the product and the person selling it, instead of enforcing TERRIBLE contract terms and using market power to tell the writer "It's industry standard". Which is really another way of saying "There are only five of us in the industry, so we're colluding together in order to force writers (without whom we wouldn't even have a product to sell, by the way) that they have to accept our pitiful terms of contract or else they don't get access to all the wonderful things we used to offer writers, but don't anymore because we'd actually just keep the money."

Ali Hussain says:

I'm currently half way through my first manuscript and I'm determined to go through the rigours of traditional publishing. With that said, I can't really begrudge anybody that chooses to go down the alternative route. It's only natural that a writer would want to share their work with the world. I do think that if you are talented, it's probably better to plough ahead with your next book irrespective of whether or not you "get lucky" the first time around. It may serve the writer better in the long term.

Cool Stuff says:

This guy doesn't have any clue wtf he is talking about. You don't get jack shit from traditional publishing. They rip you off big time from royalties and you end up making pennies even from a book that performs pretty well.

Gabe Tompkins says:

It's a solid argument, but is less true every day. For debut authors, traditional publishers have so little to offer that it makes their share of the royalties laughable. At least with self publishing you get to keep most of the money.

lolitsmatt says:

I think this is great advice. Weighing both options and I'm leaning more towards traditional. Its WAY more time consuming but hey.

Rtkts says:

From what i've heard the best way to get into self publishing is to write your book and get it approved by a publisher before going forward with self publishing. Self publishing takes more time and effort, but traditional publishing has a lot of drawbacks as well.

Gene Pozniak says:

If I had followed through on my marketing plan, I would argue with you. Guess I'll have to wait until next year. lol
BTW, your "hipster writer" was hysterically good.

Fallyn Raine says:

Honestly this video is rather condescending. It incorrectly paints all indie authors as ridiculous hipsters. It also incorrectly assumes that the only reasons to self publish is if you've had your book rejected by traditional publishers or you only want your 'grandma' to read it. While that may be true on occasion, it is generally not the case. For those who have done their research, self-publishing is an alternate route to getting your book out there – not a back up plan.

You are entitled to your opinion, Mr Keelty, but there are ways to state it that are less insulting. I follow many Indie Authors here on YouTube with exceptional book sales.

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