|Photo credit: luipermom on Flickr|
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think self-publishing is a valid option—quite the opposite, in fact. The problem is that a lot of writers view self-publishing as a backup plan should their attempts to traditionally publish fail, and truthfully, I don’t think that’s the right way to look at it.
Self-publishing isn’t meant to be a Plan B just as the e-book marketplace isn’t meant to be a last-ditch effort to sell failed manuscripts. Because it’s technically possible to go indie completely on your own, people sometimes take self-publishing lightly, but the decision to self-publish should never be based solely on the fact that you couldn’t sell your novel traditionally.
The hard truth is this: if you find that you can’t sell your manuscript through traditional means, there’s likely to be a reason for it. Now, sometimes it’s because you didn’t try long enough, or the market isn’t right for your manuscript, or you still haven’t developed strong query letter writing skills. Many times, however, it’s simply because you’re just not ready.
I know, no one wants to hear that. No one wants to be told that they aren’t ready for publication, because in the moment, you feel like you’re ready (otherwise you wouldn’t be trying to get published in the first place). No one wants to hear that they need more time to hone their writing skills, or that they’re going to have to spend even more time revising their already revised-to-death manuscript, but guys, sometimes that’s just the truth. It’s not pretty. It’s not fun. But if you can accept that you need more time to become a better writer or write a better manuscript before attempting to publish again, you may very well save yourself a major heartache.
Because the truth is, if your manuscript isn’t ready to be traditionally published, then it’s not ready to be self-published, either.
Deciding to go indie is a big decision. Self-publishing is a lot of hard work: it takes a monetary investment to do it right (editors and cover artists aren’t free), and the hardest work has only just begun when you finally do hit “upload.” It’s an enormous investment and when done correctly with a well-polished manuscript, you can certainly reap some significant rewards. Done incorrectly, however, and you’re only hurting yourself in the long run.
I know it’s not easy to wait, especially when the power to publish is literally just a few mouse clicks away. I know it’s not simple to say I’m not ready to be published yet, and I know it’s far from painless to put a manuscript that you truly loved and had dreams for in the drawer. I know that.
But I also know that dealing with the repercussions of self-publishing before you’re ready isn’t easy, either. And that’s a heartache that you can save yourself from if you give yourself more time to improve and reach the level you’ll need to be at to finally publish.
No, it’s not easy, but no one ever said this writing thing would be. But then again, you didn’t choose this path because it was a simple one, you chose it because you’re a writer, and that’s what you do.
What do you think? Have you ever considered self-publishing a backup plan?