The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Self-Publishing

We all know that you must work hard for what you want, and aspiring to be a best-selling author is no exception. But there is a dark side to self-publishing that we rarely hear about. What we hear is that we get to keep a majority of royalties and maintain ownership of our work. Well, I hate to say it but royalties don’t matter if you don’t have publicity. Plus, you won’t see your royalties until after you reach a certain dollar amount. So really, do royalties matter if you can’t hit the sale ceiling? No.

Sometimes I think that the self-publishing industry created an excellent marketing campaign, and if a publishing deal came across the table, I would take it in a heartbeat. Sure, publishers take more royalties than Amazon would, but you get exposure. You get placed in bookstores across America. Hell, you could even be promoted at the airports. You will get none of this as a self-publishing author unless you’re willing to pay $4,000 for a marketing campaign that has no guarantee of succeeding.

In recent years, the self-publishing industry has been glamorized. Well, I am here to tell you that although there are some benefits of self-publishing, it’s not as wonderful as they make it seem. Self-publishing is an endless battle with your wallet, other self-publishing authors, and your will power. Self-publishing is an incredibly spiritual journey that will deplete your bank account.

The Good
One, and maybe the only benefit, of self-publishing, is that you get to be a published author. For many people, that is a dream. Self-publishing opens the door for anyone to be an author and is a wonderful stepping stone to becoming a best-selling author. At least, I think so. Everyone has dreams that they should try to achieve. If your dream is to write a book, then self-publishing will make your dream come true. If your dream is to enlighten people with your words and let’s be honest, that’s the main goal, then self-publishing is going to get your words to print, but it’s going to be a long uphill battle until people read your thoughts.

The Bad
Self-publishing is not cheap. In fact, it’s incredibly expensive. You must pay for copyrights, editing services, reviews, ebook conversions, marketing campaigns, shipping, and exposure. Editing services usually cost more than $500. And if you want a good book, you need a good editor and the cheapest good editor is usually $800. Marketing packages are easily over $1000 and have no guarantee of working. They build promotional materials, but where is the promise of exposure? Then you have reviews. In some cases, one single review costs $600 and doesn’t get included on the site’s front page. So now you paid $2400 to publish the book, for a review that no one will see and promotional materials that still require you to market the book.

Then you have to include the cost of buying books and shipping them to people in exchange for reviews. Sadly, most of those books you give away for free will never be reviewed. Therefore, you just gambled away another $200. Remember, some people will support you and buy your book, and those people deserve your immense gratitude. However, most people want it for free. They have that on you. It’s the “well you have no one, and you need me to get you exposure” technique, and they’re right. You do need these people to give you reviews. In fact, you couldn’t do it without their support. Unfortunately, you can’t expect everyone to be true to their word. In most cases, you will get very few reviews from the people who received free books.

Then the experts tell us to keep publishing books to get exposure. Well, most self-publishing authors don’t have disposable income. We don’t have $6,000 on retainer. Trust me, if I had $6,000 to throw at the self-publishing industry, I would keep writing books.

The Ugly
You’re constantly begging for exposure. You know how much it sucks to yell out for attention yet no one hears your screams? You know how much worse it is when you’re naturally someone who doesn’t do well at begging for attention? Now you’re faced with trying to maintain a social media presence when you hate social media. Now you have to wear a face to get attention even though you hate Tweeting every five minutes.

But there are ways to get exposure. This is where the work comes in. You can’t do much about the cost of self-publishing. However, there are ways to get exposure. The best way is to be a guest writer on a popular blogging site. Also, a decent social media presence will help, but there is no guarantee there. Guest writing and speaking spots would be the best route for gaining exposure.

Although honestly, your best bet would be to find a mediocre celebrity and make a sex tape. Or do something completely stupid and degrading to get national attention. Either method works more efficiently than building a social media presence because that’s the way of our world.

So there you have it. The good is that you can be a published author. The bad is that your bank account will be non-existent for a few months. The ugly is that you have to beg for exposure that you may never get. It’s a battle between you and the rest of the world. Luckily, I’ve been in this war before, so I manage to stay positive. Eventually, something will land. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

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