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Amazon Kindle e-Books: To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish

Alisha Adkins is an author, gamer, and zombie enthusiast. She is currently pursuing her dream of writing and quietly starving to death.

Dylan Moran: Rejection

Old World Publishing

When I finished attending the Horror Writers Association World Horror Convention in New Orleans in 2013, I felt deflated. I was struck by how set in their ways many publishing companies seemed to be. (Or maybe they just keep their heads firmly in the sand?)

Upon attending a panel that purported to offer guidance to new writers, I received the following advice:

  • Expect to be rejected at least a hundred times before you sell even one short story.
  • The industry is about perseverance; authors must wait decades to break into the field.
  • Hobnob with every writer, editor, or agent you can; it's all about who you know.

This was the panel that was supposed to help smooth the way for new writers and "keep those contracts coming in"?

Kindle Direct Publishing

Publishing made easily accessible to all.

Publishing made easily accessible to all.

The New Self-Publishing Trend

Come on. The idea that you have to pay your dues by suffering for years, practically suffocating under the the piles of rejection letters, is archaic. If this is the standard to which the publishing industry is proudly clinging, the industry is bound to get blindsided at some point down the road.

In our modern world of immediacy, why should authors continue to abjectly wait, only dreaming of one day being published? Should authors really refrain from self-publishing simply because it is the only way to be legitimized to the world of traditional publishing?

To be fair, there definitely is some self-published trash out there. Without hoops to jump through to prove oneself, anyone is free to upload a book, no matter how poorly conceived or badly written. However, since "read before you buy" is a standard feature now, this really shouldn't be much of an issue. What the old guard seems to be overlooking is that there are actually a good number of authors with talent who are going the self-publishing route simply because it is a faster, less painful option.

Digital Books

An Entire Library at Your Fingers

An Entire Library at Your Fingers

A Changing Industry

When I finish writing a book, I can have it edited, commission professional-quality cover art, and still have it uploaded and available at Amazon in little more than a month's time. By comparison, is the traditional model really viable, let alone appealing? It promises years of rejections and, if one does finally land a contract, it will still take another three years or more for the book to actually go into production.

Are there still benefits to going through traditional publishing channels? Well, yes, absolutely. Book contracts often provide an advance up front and, most importantly, authors receive the benefit of having their books professionally promoted. Comparatively, for a self-published writer, it can be a steep and rocky uphill climb.

Hugh Howie

A Self-Publishing Success Story

However, there are self published authors who have been extremely successful. Hugh Howie is the poster child for self publishing. He published his first book, Wool, online through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing system, and he soon went on to gain such phenomenal success that, in 2012, Simon and Schuster courted him for the rights to distribute it in the US and Canada. Howie was able to negotiate a deal for a substantial sum while still continuing to retain the e-book rights for himself.

So, if you're lucky enough to get noticed and talented enough to gain an audience, self publishing might just be the way to go. Not only is there the immediate gratification of being able to rapidly get your work out to an audience, but there is also a higher profit margin. Most small publishing presses grant authors 25% royalties on e-book sales (sometimes less). When self-publishing, you can receive 70% of the sale price. So, even if you are selling fewer books than you would with a publishing company behind you, it's theoretically possible to still come out ahead in terms of generated revenue.

Avenues of Distribution


How to Publish

Before uploading an e-book, it is important to make sure that your work is ready for public consumption. Make sure to obtain reputable editorial services and to commission professional quality cover art. These two factors are essential. A good cover is what draws readers to your book and, once the cover has intrigued them, they will read the first few pages in order to decide if they want to purchase it. If the book's writing seems amateurish, readers are unlikely to buy. Do some research. The Internet is rife with individuals offering editorial and graphic arts services.

Scroll to Continue

Once your work is ready, convert it into e-book formats. E-books are becoming easier and easier to create. Sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer their own tutorials to guide you through the process. Or, if you prefer, you can pay to have your manuscript converted through an independent service.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to reach millions of readers. Uploading your e-book is quick and simple.

Barnes & Noble's Nook Press is another popular online, self-publishing portal where uploading your e-book is an easy process..

Smashwords takes a single file and converts it into a variety of formats. This author-friendly site gives 85% net of sales.

Createspace is an Amazon company that does printing on demand. Any book can be produced as a paperback at relatively little cost through this site.

Impending Collapse?

Crumbling Down

With the availability of so many readily accessible self-publishing avenues, will traditional publishing be able to hold its allure to new writers?

The answer to that question will probably have a lot to do with how publishing companies respond to change but, right now, the future of publishing seems quite uncertain.

Learn More About Issues Facing Writers Today

© 2013 Alisha Adkins


Alisha Adkins (author) from New Orleans on September 17, 2015:

Shirley, I wish I had an answer for you. I know some authors have had some success with Book Bub, but in general, marketing self-published books seems to be a quagmire that tends to be expensive and ineffectual. :(

ShirleyJCJohnson on December 01, 2014:

The one thing that everyone who is hubbing about being published (traditional or self) is the price. How much does it cost to get notices and/or published? Ordinary Joes, or Josies (I am female) want to get noticed but can't.

vipin on February 16, 2014:

I am going through this post and thinking of it’s theme and trying to understand what is this post about. At last I can have found something from this post which feels pretty good.

Robin from Cape Town South Africa on January 16, 2014:

One thing that a traditional publisher (and I am one) will do is to get their author's books into book stores. The eBook market is rapidly eroding the market share of bricks and mortar stores because the main income stream for these bookstores is popular fiction, ideal for the Kindle and Nook.

As you say there is no real money in eBooks, so in the end writers may only continue to write for the joy of it and not to get an income stream. Don't give up your day job just yet!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on June 17, 2013:

Very nice advice given on this hub. I liked it immensely.

An acquaintance Alastair Humphreys, adventurer and speaker, has self published 5 books on his adventures and they have been received favourably by the niche market of adventure explorers.

I may follow the same route :-)

Alisha Adkins (author) from New Orleans on June 17, 2013:

All valid points. I have never actually gone through the submission process myself. I grew up as the daughter of a struggling science fiction writer; having witnessed my father's thankless, soul-crushing experiences with the publishing industry, I never wanted to go through the process myself. I wrote merely for my own pleasure prior to the advent of e-books. Self-publishing has allowed me to share my writing with an audience, albeit a small one. But, admittedly, the need to self-promote is the side of self-publishing that I relish least.

Stephanie from Canada on June 17, 2013:

When my novel is completed, I plan on subbing it to publishing houses. If I can't get it published conventionally, then I'll self-publish. While I agree with all of your points, the main thing that concerns me about self-publishing is how much self-promotion you have to do. I want to write books - not tweet about them, blog about them, flog them to death. It's the same reason why I hesitate to blog. Just like traditional publishing seems to be about who you know in the publishing world, it seems like self-published or online writing seems to be about who you know (or who you can get noticed by) in the virtual world. Interesting hub! Voted up and shared!

Jed Fisher from Oklahoma on June 16, 2013:

I've self-published and I'm very happy with the results.

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