True or False: Self-published Books

I want to play a game.

No, not that kind of game.

Today, I want to talk about some of the things I’ve seen posted and written online about self-published books and authors. Some of them are pretty gross, and I just wanted to take a minute and clear up some confusion. So let’s get started.

If indie books were any good, a traditional publisher would accept them.

False. Not to mention rude. Traditional publishers are very, very picky about what they accept. It’s a difficult industry to break into, and it’s highly subjective.

Also, some authors don’t understand what they’re getting into before they get pretty far into the process. There are indie authors who initially accepted book deals from traditional publishers and then backed out of their contracts to self-publish instead because they wanted more control over their work.

Self-published books are low quality

It depends. If the author does their homework and is careful about formatting and so on, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between a self-published book and a traditionally published book.

I have a copy of The Frozen Flame (not an affiliate link) by Sionna Trenz and it’s a great looking book. I haven’t finished reading it yet, so I don’t feel comfortable talking about the content until I do, but the physical copy of the book itself is very nice. Nobody would know just from looking at it that it didn’t come from a major traditional publishing company.

Self-publishing is hard

Mostly true? Everyone has their own threshold of what’s easy vs what’s hard, but it is true that more work falls on authors who self-publish. Publishing is not just an art, it’s also a business. Indie authors are responsible for sourcing out editors, cover designs, formatting their books, doing all of their marketing, creating ad campaigns, and so on. They also have to watch out for scammers if they choose to hire editors or designers to help them with this process. (I have an upcoming post about hiring editors, so keep an eye out for that).

Traditionally published authors often don’t get a choice in their covers. The publishing company helps with editing and proofreading, formatting, and some of the marketing. However, it’s still a business and there’s still more to it than just writing a book and handing it off to the publisher.

If you self-publish a book, you can’t traditionally publish it later

Mostly true, but there have been some exceptions. Generally those exceptions are mega bestsellers. Think Fifty Shades of Grey big.

You can’t buy self-published books in a brick and mortar bookstore

False. I mean, there will be some indie books that you won’t be able to find in a brick and mortar store, or at the library, but it is possible to distribute self-published books to stores. I’m not going to get off topic and go into those details today, but you can look here and here if you want to know more about that.

Game over!

I’ll probably revisit this topic when I have more self-publishing myths to bust (or confirm), but I think I’ve covered enough for one day. What do you think? Feel free to share your own myths in the comments below!

Image Credit: Content Pixie

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  1. I wouldn’t even know how you’d go about trying to get a publisher to accept your book or how to self-publish. I imagine both are hard but for different reasons. Like, how do you promote and make your book available around the world if you self-publish?

    1. You’re absolutely correct that they’re both hard in different ways. If you want to sell through a traditional publisher, you need to go through an agent. The acceptance process can be brutal. You get to skip that step if you’re self-publishing, but that puts you in charge of everything the publisher would have done for you.

      I’m not totally sure of all of the steps involved in making a self-published book available internationally. I know there are some distributors that sell books in multiple countries, like B&N Press, but I’m not sure how it all works.

  2. It’s so good to see some myths spoken about! As someone who’s not looking to publish something, it’s so easy not to understand it! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Katie |

    1. Thanks, Katie! I try to help clear up misinformation about publishing as much as I can because it is a complex subject, and unfortunately it’s easy to get scammed if people don’t know what they’re getting into. I think it’s important to support other writers.

  3. While I won’t completely write off traditional publishing, I feel like it is better to have self publish for various reasons like full ownership of rights and royalties, the fact that self published book are faster to market and the likes. Tho self publishing is a lot of work haha. I would say to self publish if you are ready to go through all the stress and work involved. Also, I definitely agree with the fact that not all self published books are low quality. There are some really great quality self published books out there. A self publisher can produce good, quality content. Self publishing just needs time, effort and commitment!

    1. Traditional publishing has always been a goal of mine, but I also have things I plan to self-publish. I know they’re good stories, and I don’t want to try and shoehorn them into a typical traditional mold. Also, from what research I’ve done so far, it sounds like there’s a greater earning potential from self-publishing if your work is good quality and you have a good marketing strategy. You’re absolutely right about time, effort, and commitment. Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome! I do have other posts on the blog about agents, legit places to self-publish, and things to avoid, and I hope to add more posts related to publishing soon. My plan is to try to traditionally publish the novel I’m working on now, but I’ll self-publish if that falls through. I also have some things that just won’t fit into a typical traditional mold, and I’ll definitely self-publish those when they’re ready.

  4. Thank you for the kind words about my book! My cover artist is amazing and I do go over everything with a fine tooth comb lol. But you’re right about the myths. They limit an author’s scope when it comes to publishing options. There are pluses and minuses to each type of publishing, and what fits best is different for every author. I’ve decided that self publishing, at least my current Series, is right for me specifically because I don’t want to give up control over any aspect of this series. (well, marketing help would be nice). I might try to find a traditional publisher for an unrelated book, but we’ll have to see.

    1. You’re welcome! You put a lot of care into your books, and it shows. You’re right that every author needs to decide what path works best for them and their book. It’s silly to assume that a book is better or worse than others just because of the way the author published. There are some subjects that are hard to sell to traditional publishers no matter how good the story is. I’m aiming to traditionally publish the book I’m working on now, but I will self-publish if it falls through. I think there isn’t a lot of demand for fantasy with elemental magic right now, so it might be a hard sell.

  5. This is a great informative post. I learnt some much about self publish myths. I always wanted to write a book. This post has so much information that I need to consist. Thank you for sharing.

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