Thursday, July 21, 2011

Emma Lai

Please welcome the talented Emma Lai to the hotseat. Thank you for coming...

The costs of self-publishing...

(Let me state, I have nothing against self-publishing or authors who choose to self-publish.)

Writing is a solitary process. We pour our souls onto paper and then hoard the precious results and agonize over whether to put it out there for the world to see. For those brave enough to choose to publish, a publisher provides a myriad of benefits.

First, many have wonderful editors who will help take your work to the next level. No one is a perfect writer, and nothing irritates me more than to pick up a book and see poor editing. While even publishing houses let things slip through the crack, editing mistakes seem to be multiplied in self-published work. (Word of advice: if you are going to self-publish, at the very least get some good critique, or another option is to hire a freelance editor; keep in mind, if you go with a publisher, one of the reasons you don’t get all the royalties from a sell is to pay that editor at the publishing house who polished your work until it shone.)

Second, many have wonderful cover artists who will help sale the story. (Again, yet another sliver of royalties gone to cover this cost at a publishing house.) If you’ve never made a cover, let me give you a summary of options. You can search through databases (be careful too because you need to make sure you have permission to use the piece for publication) or commission one or hire someone to do it for you. This is yet another cost, whether time, money or both, to add to your self-publishing plans.

Third, unless you have a myriad of friends with blogs and twitter accounts and facebook accounts and the time to go to every chat room to promote your work, nothing can connect you to the industry better than signing a contract with an established publishing house. Suddenly, you have access to other authors who are more than willing to share their knowledge with you; you have access to marketing promotions you wouldn’t have had previously; and you have access to a market, in the form of regular customers of the house, you can’t otherwise get.

Finally, if you’re thinking about publishing your story in paper format, you have to do some serious research into the options available because not all print on demand gives you access to the markets you might want to enter.

I know there are many, many things not covered in this article, but my main point is there are costs to self-publishing so think carefully before treading down that path. The people I think it benefits most are those with an established reader base. Another reason to self-publish might be because you have a work that doesn’t quite fit at a traditional house either because of length or content.

Let the firestorm begin...

 Emma Lai (

His Ship, Her FantasyHis Hope, Her Salvation, and Twice is Not Enough (from The Wild Rose Press)
Slave to Innocence and Tempting Terms (from Sybarite Press)


  1. All excellent points to consider. Unless you have a good following to begin with I think it would be difficult to self-publish successfully. I recently self-published a work of nonfiction, but it's NOT selling well. Of course, I'm primarily a fiction writer so have no idea how to promo nonfiction. Oh well, I wasn't planning a career in nonfiction anyway.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Beth. The first thought that comes to my mind, is to market the book to writers who might be interested in it.