Friday, October 20, 2017

Good & Bad Reasons to Self-Publish

Things to consider before going the indie publishing route.
by Traci Tyne Hilton @TraciTyneHilton

Great Reasons to Self-Publish
  • You have series of genre fiction with a strong and sympathetic lead and you plan on writing more than 4 novels a year in that series.
  • You have books that have been deemed wonderful by agents and editors but still weren’t able to find a place in the market.
  • You are a control freak and doing every aspect of the business all by yourself is not only appealing but the freaking best idea you have ever heard of in your life.
  • You are an outsider artist who doesn’t want to conform. You only want to play with words, styles, ideas, and you are so “out there” there is no place in the traditional market for you. And money doesn’t mean anything to you. You just want your works to live in a public space.
  • You are rich and have time on your hands.
  • You are an entrepreneur and owning the risk of the business is half the fun.

Bad Reasons to Indie Publish
  • You want to get rich quick
  • You’ve been told you aren’t there yet, but you don’t agree with the feedback
  • You want to start a new religion
  • You are an armchair expert in a field full of PhD’s but you are sure you are the only one who knows anything about the subject.
  • You really, really, really want to get rich quick
  • You want an easy way to make money.
  • You want to “set it and forget it.”

In conclusion:

DIY publishing is not a crock pot. You cannot “set it and forget it” or get rich quick. It is not an easy way to make money.

It is actually a prison cafeteria. You have to work super hard and you feel like very few people care. If you are lucky, at the end of years and years of grueling labor you will have earned your freedom (that’s money, in this analogy.)

Well, that’s bleak, Traci.
I know how you feel. When I see it written like that it feels bleak to me, too. But the thing that feels worse is having a lovely author with a brilliant idea/moving life story/talent with words come to me for advice on how to sell something that just won’t sell well as an indie title.

So what can you do with this gift God has given you, if you haven’t been able to sell it trad and Traci says it won’t work indie?

A think I heard at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference plays again and again in my head.

“Sometimes what you think is a book is really an article.”

A well written article (or piece of short fiction, or devotional) will pay you money. It will reach readers. Your nonfiction advice book or traumatic event memoir has a much greater chance of helping others as an article than as an indie title. The magazine that publishes it gives it a level of authority an indie book lacks, and their distribution is just plain bigger. Say you do “average” for a one off self-published book. That’s about 100 copies sold in a year. A magazine with only 100 copies sold would fold. You can help more people with an article, is what I am saying. That’s a good thing.

But back to fiction. Very few people have a first and only book that is strong enough to publish. And a good number of authors have a theme, a story they are trying to tell, that runs through all of their books. If your story is telling/teaching something you can probably do a better job telling it the second (or third, or forth) time you try.

But Traci, Foreclosed! Your first book! It did great!
I know, I know. But what you don’t know is that my lucky first try was my fourth or fifth try to write a novel and it came after years of training to write plays—something I had had some early success with. Yes, Foreclosed was another instant success after a decade of hard work.

And now, almost a decade later, I *almost* wish I hadn’t published it. I am a much stronger writer now. Of course, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be as strong a writer as I am now. The point is: even that book with all its weaknesses came after years of hard work.

But this is STILL bleak, Traci! Where’s the good news and promises of riches? You’re the one that taught Tricks Rich Indies Use, after all!

The good news is in the first list. If you find yourself relating to some of those points, and none of the second list, you are well on your way to a satisfying indie experience.

Reasons why to #self-publish, and some warnings - from author @TraciTyneHilton (Click to Tweet)

Good & Bad reasons to #IndiePublish - from author @TraciTyneHilton (Click to Tweet)

Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries and the Tillgiven RomanticMysteries. Traci has a degree in history from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, two busy kids, and their dogs, Dr. Watson and Archie Goodwin.

More of Traci’s work can be found at


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