Why I Chose to Self-Publish
It seems like every time I hop onto social media or some other corner of The Writer Internet (patent pending), I see some version of the traditional-versus-self-publishing debate. People ask seemingly anyone who will listen which route they should take, and authors on either side of the debate state their case.
These debates can turn heated — it is the Internet, after all — so heated that sometimes, those on either side of the debate act as if their position is the only right answer and people who believe otherwise are…whatever the current Internet insult du jour is.
Part of the vitriol, I feel, comes from the fact that self-publishing still isn’t universally respected or seen as a serious publication strategy. There is still a stigma to being self-published, though it has diminished. There are those who believe self-published authors do little more than write whatever dribble pops into their head then hit Publish on Amazon without a care for editing, cover design, or basic human decency.
This line of thinking couldn’t be more incorrect; self-published authors are some of the hardest-working writers I know. Part of that’s by necessity — as a self-published author, you’re in charge of or responsible for every part of the publishing process — but they care for the stories they’ve told, and the effort they put into it reflects that.
This post will not tell you which path to take. That’s not for me to say.
Only you can make that call.
The decision of which publication method to pursue is up to each individual author. Different people have different aspirations and expectations, and ultimately, the decision as to which path to follow is up to you and you alone.
But I can offer insight as to why I chose the self-publishing route.
Mostly, it boils down to something I don’t have: patience. I’m not a patient person; I never have been, and I likely never will be. If patience is a virtue, then I’m not a particularly virtuous person. As such, the traditional route holds little appeal to me. I don’t have it in me to submit a manuscript to an agent or publisher, only to wait weeks — if not months — for a response (which, let’s face it, would likely be no).
That’s a lot of time wasted on…what, exactly?
That doesn’t even get into the querying process, which — if my Twitter feed on any given day is any indication — is someone untold level of Hell, one that probably got cut during revisions of Dante’s Inferno.
As a self-published author, I operate on my own schedule. I’m able to tell the stories I want, the way I want to tell them, when I want to tell them. That freedom holds a great deal of appeal to me, particularly as I write stories that are just on the outside of what a mainstream publisher might be willing to publish.
I see traditionally published authors plugging upcoming releases that are still a year away, if not more. When I’m at my productive peak, I can self-publish two full-length novels a year.
It’s true that I have more responsibilities as a self-published author. I have to worry not just about crafting the story and putting the words on the page, but I’m also responsible for editors and formatting and cover design and marketing — all things a traditional publisher would take care of for me (NOTE: There are exceptions to this, but generally speaking, the publisher would handle all those aspects).
That added responsibility puts a lot of work on my plate beyond simply writing the book. But it also brings with it a sort of freedom. There is freedom in control, and in self-publishing, I have control over the entire book-creating process. I control the content, I control the time table, and I control the distribution.
Someday, I might pursue traditional publishing; there’s something to be said for receiving advances, writing stories, and letting the publisher handle all of the other stuff. But I see self-publishing as a trade-off, and it’s one I’m willing to make right now. Yes, I have to secure my own editor and I have to format my manuscripts myself. Yes, I have to either hire a cover designer or find my own cover another way. Yes, I’m the one who has to blow up Goodreads and social media to tell people about my work.
But I get to do all that on my own time. I decide when my books come out. I decide what gets published and what doesn’t. And because of this, if I publish a book, then you know damn well it’s something I really wanted to be out there.
Again, it’s your call which way you go. I can’t tell you what works for you. But if you’ve ever wondered why self-publishing is so appealing to so many of us…well, this is why.
J.D. Cunegan is a self-published author and freelance editor who has written six novels (including Notna and the Jill Andersen series), the non-fiction The Art of Reading, and has had short stories published in three anthologies.
You can find his work at https://jdcuneganbooks.com.