Warning: Before You Self-Publish

self-publishing image 1Why pay to be printed when you could get paid to be published?

If you’re shopping your book to publishers who require you to pay for any portion of the process, you’re self-publishing.

A company can call itself whatever it wants—hybrid, subsidy, cooperative, indie. But if you pay one dime for any of their services (even committing to a minimum initial order as part of the deal or paying for publicity or any other marketing element), you’re self-publishing.

How can I say that when you might have been told your book was “accepted,” and you’ve been “offered a contract,” and you’re paying only for this or that?

Trust me, whatever you’re paying likely covers the company’s other expenses to produce your book and even gives them a profit.

And you are still the decision-maker; that makes you the publisher.

What’s wrong with that? Why should we let the big, impersonal, almost-impossible-to-crack traditional publishers make all the decisions about our books?

Because they’ve earned that right, know what they’re doing, pay you for the privilege, and take all the risk.

Will Self-Publishing Your Book Really Get You More Money?

But, the argument goes, “Why should I accept a royalty of roughly 15% of sales when I could pocket all the profits?”

Because 15% of 10,000 books sold is a lot more than 85% of 1,000 books sold. Do the math on a $15 book.

10,000 x $15 = $150,000 x 15% = $22,500.

1,000 x $15 = $15,000 x 85% = $ 12,750.

Why do I use those sales figures (10,000 vs. 1,000)? Because most traditional publishers will not accept a book they don’t think will sell at least 10,000 copies.

And because 1,000 books sold is way above the average for self-published books, despite the rare, noisy exception.

And how much would a self-publisher cost you before you started selling books? Up to $10,000 is not unheard of.

The Shocking Self-Publishing Statistic

Jeremy Greenfield, who writes about ebooks and digital publishing for Forbes, reported nearly three years ago that according to data from a new survey from Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest, the median income range for self-published authors is under $5,000. And nearly 20% of self-published authors report deriving no income from their writing.

“Few authors are getting rich off of their writing or even earning enough from their writing to quit their day jobs,” Greenfield quotes Dana Beth Weinberg, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Queens College in New York City.

It’s true that your traditionally published title might never earn you more than the $5,000 to $10,000 advance you might receive. But it’s also true that very few self-published titles get anywhere close to 1,000 sales. Most, in fact, are given away.

The So-Called Benefits of Self-Publishing

But hasn’t the self-publishing revolution—including all the nearly free ways to “publish” your book online—made this the greatest era ever for writers?

So some would have you believe. “Finally,” they say, “there’s room for everyone. You don’t face the Catch-22 of needing to be published before getting an agent or a contract. You can publish yourself!”

The fallacy in that argument is that writers who do this then represent themselves as “published authors”—a stretch, you must admit. And when they present themselves that way to traditional publishers, they find that having self-published was the worst thing they could do for their reputations.

Plus, because it seems nearly everyone is doing this, the bigger pool for everyone to play in has become a problem in itself. While competition is stiff and the odds of landing a traditional publishing contract are long, literally tens of thousands are self-publishing every day. I’m not exaggerating.

So the likelihood of your manuscript, even if it’s great, being noticed in that avalanche of mediocrity (and worse) is minuscule.

The Self-Publishing Predators

Sad to say, too many self-publishers and self-publishing online courses today are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

They lie in wait like jungle cats until an unsuspecting victim crosses their path. Playing on your dream of being published, they lure you with phrases like:

  • “Become a published author in less than 90 days!”
  • “Make your book an Amazon bestseller—guaranteed!”
  • “Self-publishing will supercharge your career!”

They promise “getting published,” marketing strategies, and wide distribution. But you pay for it all (regardless of sales success)—sometimes thousands for:

  • Poor cover design with exorbitant upcharges for changes
  • Unprofessional type and page layout
  • Little or no editing and/or proofreading
  • Overblown marketing promises that really consist of getting your title listed in some massive online catalogue that bookstores ignore
  • A publisher much less responsive (sometimes impossible to engage) once you’ve signed the deal and sent your check
  • Dismal sales

Even the better, more reputable self-publishing companies—those who can produce handsome products and even offer professional editing and proofreading—will either:

  • Overcharge for such services, or
  • Allow you to opt out of investing in such services

Frankly, that’s one of the biggest dangers. When you publish without editing or proofreading, it shows. Some authors even choose to have their manuscripts printed “as is.” In other words, rather than a traditional-looking typeset, they go directly from their computer-generated manuscript to the printed page.

More Self-Publishing Downsides

Opting out of professional typesetting can result in a book with:

  • San serif type (like this blog, as opposed to serif type—scientifically proven to read easier)
  • Flush-left paragraphs (not indented)
  • A space between each paragraph (again, like this blog)

That is customary for online copy. But all those elements are no-nos if you want your book taken seriously in the marketplace.

I’ve even seen books “published” with two spaces between sentences, the way we old-timers were taught to type in prehistoric days. You won’t find a traditionally published book with two spaces between sentences.

On top of that, many such companies will allow you to choose your own cover, whether you have any design background or not. They’ll also let you put “by” in front of your name on the cover—something else you won’t see on a real book.

I’ve seen Foreword spelled Forward, Foreward, and even Forword. It’s always a dead giveaway that I’m looking at a self-published book. I’ve also seen Acknowledgments spelled with the extra British e: Acknowledgements.

Those may not seem like big deals, but compounded they result in an amateurish, obviously self-published book.

Why Would Self-Publishers Allow This?

Not all would, of course, but to too many of them, you’re fresh meat to be moved through the cattle chute. I maintain a personal policy that forbids criticizing companies by name. But it does seem in many cases—based on myriad complaints I’ve heard from many writers—too many self-publishing firms seem to care most about cashing your check.

Of course, not ALL self-publishing companies are predatory.

But enough are that you should exercise extreme caution if you go that route. I recommend that you not even negotiate with one without first conducting a vigorous background check, including personal knowledge of a satisfied customer.

You’re Working with a Sleazy Self-Publishing Company When:

  • They refuse to acknowledge that traditional publishing is almost always your best option if you can break in (don’t even think about publishing with someone who doesn’t admit this)
  • They let you publish your book—and put their name on it—despite the blatant errors or sloppiness outlined above
  • They insist they’re not a subsidy- or self-publisher, despite that you are being charged (for any of the process)

Below I’ll cover when self-publishing is your best option and how to find a reputable company that actually cares whether your book succeeds.

But I’ve seen enough highway robbery in this business to advise you to be highly skeptical of any company before you’ve done your homework.

When Self-Publishing Makes Sense

I’ve made it my life’s work to coach writers to get their writing to a level where they can market it to traditional publishers. You’ll rarely see me suggest self-publishing as a first option.

So, when would I suggest it?

  • When your book does not have wide commercial appeal. Traditional publishers cannot accept books of interest to only several hundred friends and relatives. I self-published two volumes of my late father’s poetry, as well as a short biography of my wife’s grandmother, who lived to be 101.
  • When you need to be published for the sake of your career. You may be a professor under a publish-or-perish mandate. Or you may be an expert in some esoteric science or discipline in which it behooves you to have books available at speaking events.
  • When you have exhausted all traditional publishing avenues and realize that either your subject matter or your writing quality will never be favored by traditional publishers, yet you remain determined to be published.

In that last case, if you choose the self-publishing route, be prepared to spend as much as it takes to get a final product that looks as much as possible like a traditionally published book. If you’re not willing or able to spend that much, at least have someone edit and proofread your book.

And realize that the responsibility of promotion and marketing and sales will fall entirely on you. You’ll either do it yourself, or you will pay for it.

Before You Settle for Self-Publishing

If you’re having trouble landing an agent or a traditional publisher, take a hard look at the writing itself. Weak writing is the #1 cause of rejections.

And cream always rises. So do whatever is necessary to make your writing cream.

The Truth about Agents and Publishers

They aren’t looking for reasons to reject your manuscript. Though the best agents and editors can tell within five minutes whether your manuscript is publishable, they want you to succeed.

If your first few pages aren’t error-free or don’t grab the reader by the throat, agents and editors immediately know it’ll be far too labor-intensive (expensive) for an editor to clean up.

(If you’re wondering how to clean up your own manuscript to give it the best chance with an agent or a traditional publisher, my ultimate self-editing guide will get you started.)

That’s why the goal of this blog and my Writers Guild is to give you what you need to take your writing to the next level. Ideally, I want to see you shop your writing to literary agents and traditional publishing houses.

I Confess…

Despite holding for decades my current view of self-publishing, I did waver a few years ago and even offered self-publishing packages through my former guild. I heard enough writers complain that they found it impossible to break into traditional publishing. And enough traditional publishers admit that the odds were growing longer against new writers.

I believed I had seen the light and developed a self-publishing package that did little but prove to me in the end that I had been right all along. No one seemed to be able to afford a self-publishing package that included everything that I insisted would make it reputable.

I wound up publishing several of my colleagues, who largely resurrected and updated out-of-print traditional titles. Bookstores accepted these because well-known writers’ names were on them, as was mine.

That proved to be my short-lived attempt at doing something credible in that market. I was left feeling the need to post a blog like this.

So, My Advice to You

  • Give yourself to the craft
  • Hone your writing skills
  • Read everything you can about writing, including my idea of the best books on writing
  • Exhaust all efforts to get your writing quality to the level where you can compete for a traditional book contract

That may seem like only a dream right now. But if you apply yourself, you might be surprised at your results by this time next year.

If you do opt for self-publishing, there are some good, reputable companies out there. But do yourself a favor and read this revealing book before you sign a contract: Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should (Updated Second Edition).

Though I disagree that “you should,” aside from certain circumstances, the chapter on vanity presses alone (especially some associated with established traditional publishing houses) is a must-read.

Many of these have been under investigation for failing to pay writers, overcharging, and otherwise taking advantage of newbie authors.

My Bottom Line

This post is not intended to start an argument or even a discussion on the pros and cons of self-publishing. It reflects my view, and those who vehemently disagree are entitled to theirs.

But even if you are in that camp, let’s agree on this: Regardless the method of publishing you choose, your reader deserves quality writing. Self-publishing is no excuse for less than your absolute best effort.

Have you had good or bad experiences in self-publishing? Tell me in the Comments.

Related Posts:

How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps

How to Write a Short Story That Captivates Your Reader

How to Write a Memoir: A 3-Step Guide

  • OliviaEvergreen Bond

    makes sense, a company told me that i needed to pay 999.99 to get into this contract with them. i was so confused

    • Hope this clarifies things for you, Olivia.

      • OliviaEvergreen Bond

        it does thank you:)

  • CL WELLS

    Great article! I have a question for you, but would rather email. Thank you!

  • Dwight Clough

    I’ve helped a number of clients self-publish through Amazon’s Create Space (a paperback publish on demand company) and Kindle (e-book). I think it’s a great choice for nonfiction titles for professionals with a growing but limited circle of influence.

    Despite what you’re saying about good writing, Jerry, the first question any agent is going to ask is this: What’s your platform? If you don’t have a tribe of at least 10,000 people, the agent isn’t going to waste his/her time.

    In the world of fiction, you might be right. Traditional publishing might be the way to go, and some agent somewhere might fall in love with your book and push hard enough until you get a publishing contract. But the burden of marketing will still fall heavily on you–an untested new author. Seems to me to be unfair for 15%.

    • CL WELLS

      See… this is one of the reasons I went straight to self-publishing. We have to do our own marketing anyway. I’ve been self-published a little over a year now and while I definitely haven’t made it yet, I work on my writing/publishing/author goals every single day. I have a website with a blog that’s gaining momentum, I just reached 6k on Twitter, still only have a little over 1k on my FB author page, but it takes time. If a publisher isn’t going to look at me until I have 10k, but I have a completed manuscript and finished product now, why wait 1-4 years to find out if a Trad-publisher will give me the time of day? It’s easier to build my platform with a finished product. Trying to so what I’m doing without it would be more difficult for sure.

      • Dwight Clough

        makes sense to me, CL Wells

      • Jerry B Jenkins

        I hear your frustration, CL, but even Dwight didn’t say PUBLISHERS demanded 10k in your tribe. He said AGENTS do, which is also an exagerration. The more the better, of course, but no agent I know–and I know a LOT of them–insists on a 10k minimum.

        1-4 years? I’ve never heard of that either, and I’ve worked with hundreds of writers who have traditionally published over the years. It’s hard to break in, yes, and it takes time, but not years. Write a great book and you’ll get the attention of trad publishers.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      As you say, “for professionals with a growing but limited circle of influence…”, which is the point I make in the When Self-Publishing Makes Sense section above.

      As for the 15% royalty, it’s about the same as the publisher makes.

      While authors are expected to promote–naturally–it’s simply untrue that the biggest burden falls on them. Anyone who has enough passion to write a whole book ought to be it’s greatest promoter anyway. But a traditonal publisher’s advertising/PR/marketing department(s) will put you to work, not expect you to create the plan.

  • Jamie Jenkins

    I haven’t had any experience with self-publishing personally, but I have seen a lot of self-published books by other writers, and I have to say, I agree 100 percent with this article. I’m going to avoid self-publishing for any book I want more than a few people to read.

    • Thanks, Jamie.

      • Jamie Jenkins

        By the way, thanks for writing this article. I knew there was a lot of scammer self-publishing companies out there, but I didn’t realize they were that bad. Thanks for the warning!

  • Deborah Vaughn

    Jerry: Thank you for posting this! I have always been suspicious of any business that preys on desperate people. A friend of mine was desperate to get her book pub’d and tried for a couple of years to get into print through traditional publishers, but it was rejected (and, frankly should have been). I’ve read it and while I see her heart, the writing is substandard and the story isn’t marketable en masse.

    But she was set on getting her story out there. She worked over the summer to earn enough money to have it self-pub’d. Turns out, the company was crooked and took all of her profits. What’s worse? When she fulfilled her contractual obligations to them and attempted to take her book to a different publisher, they informed her that they owned all rights to her book. She had signed away all rights to publish it, use it, or sell it. She’s been in a legal battle with them for a couple of years now. It’s horrid.

    • Sad, Deborah. Admittedly, that’s on the disastrous end of the spectrum, but it still happens way too often.

  • autonomous

    I am in the process of putting my first novel on Amazon thru CreatSpace. Have you any thoughts on this method?

    • Dwight Clough

      Do it right. Set yourself apart by giving attention to quality in everything: writing, cover design, interior design, editing, proofreading. Then market, market, market. (Understand that just getting your book in print does not guarantee even one copy will be sold.) I assume you’re using CreateSpace’s free services. That’s the route I would go.

    • Susan K. Stewart

      I have used CreateSpace for two books. It is not entirely free. Although CS doesn’t have required fees as some indie publishing companies do, there are expenses to self-publishing. Probably the most important expense is quality, professional editing. There are professional organizations of freelance editors to consider, including The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network. (Note: I’m a member of The Christian PEN.) I’ve not used the CS option for editing. I want to be sure I’m hiring someone who has experience in the type of writing I do. A fiction editor isn’t always a good fit for a non-fiction book. The second expense not to spare is cover design. Hire a quality designer. Some claim to have found good designers on Fivvr. I’ve never used that site, so I don’t know. I work with a designer who spends time with me to get a feel for my style and my book. Don’t, please don’t, use CS’s stock cover designs.

      I recently won the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association Silver Scroll Merit Award for one of my self-published books. The AWSA awards are given to traditionally published books as well as self-published. This particular book doesn’t have a large enough market for traditional publishers. The only way to get it out to my market was self-publishing.

      The self-publishing process isn’t completed in a weekend and it cost me some money. The extra effort to detail is worth it.

      • And you self-published for the right reasons, Susan. Brava!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      My answer is the first line of the blog above. :)

  • CL WELLS

    Another thought: (Respectfully)~This article makes it sound like the number of successful Indies is just a drop in the bucket. But I’m in an author group with approximately 2.5k people and there are many in that group who have crossed the 10k line in books sold. I’m talking about with profit, not freebies. That’s just in this one group. Like everything else in life, your success will be determined by the amount of work you put behind it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think there are a lot of great points in this article, but at the same time, I’m offended by the implication that only traditionally published individuals are real authors. While it’s true, that there are many folks putting junk out there, it means other Indies have to work that much harder get away from the garbage.

    • garlicherb

      2.5k is a drop in the bucket when there are millions of books being self published each year. The problem with self publishing and the benefit with self publishing is that anyone can do it. Some people are extremely professional, some are not. The vast majority do not treat this as a business. I read romance – a LOT of authors have jumped on the bandwagon because they heard it’s a lucrative market. For every good book I find, I find at least 20 to 30 truly awful books. It has got so bad that I only read books from authors I trust and I’ve gone back to reading Harlequin’s – they’re not great but at least I get a consistent level of quality and don’t get distracted from my escapism by some glaring error.

      • Anthony Pero

        Amazon just announced that it had crossed 5 million titles on Kindle. That includes all titles available in ebook form from traditional publishers as well as all titles self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing. That does not add up to “millions of books being self published each year.”

        • Not if you count only Amazon.

          • Anthony Pero

            That would imply that more people (many more people) are self-publishing (or vanity publishing) outside of Amazon than with KDP, to get to “millions each year”. Perhaps that’s true. I don’t see how anyone could possibly know, however.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Sorry, didn’t mean to offend. But don’t turn an inference into an implication: “that only traditonally published individuals are real authors”. That whole section titled When Self-Publishing Makes Sense deals with self-published writers I would consider real authors.

  • Thank you for this! I’ve been struggling with the idea of self-publishing. You’ve convinced me to go the traditional route.

    • At least exhaust all efforts there first, Vicki. And all the best with your work. :)

  • Laura Bennet

    You make some really good points, and I appreciate your warnings. I wish I had them many years ago when I wrote my first book(not published) and was “accepted” by one such company. For so many decades, traditional publishing was the only and best way. I’m still a fan, even though I have not broken into it yet. I’ve spent years writing, learning the craft, attending conferences and pitching to agents and publishers. I’m not quitting.

    However, I turned to self-publishing for my first few books for various reasons. One of which was feeling led that for that situation self-publishing was best. No, I’m not getting rich. Yes, I do sell books and have great reviews. But my lack of sales is more due to marketing/launching learning curve than anything else. And while in the past, the publisher handled that, now even with traditional publishing much of that rests on the author. Yes, a publisher has a broader reach, but the work done seems to be the same. My numerous author friends attest to that. All that said, I believe there is a place for both, and it seems a benefit for authors to be able to choose both or either depending on their individual situation. To dismiss either one doesn’t seem prudent or helpful to me.

    I believe it is true that much of the self-published world is a slush pile of garbage. Perhaps that will make it more difficult for people to find good writing in the mess. But there are some tremendous indie authors out there, and they shouldn’t be dismissed simply because they chose indie publishing.

  • Eric Ike Uzoma

    Wow. Very very insightful.

  • Lynn Severance

    I am in the midst of self publishing my first book – it is going through the first rounds of typesetting review ( I get final approval on everything) so I can offer formatting changes and corrections. I spent 6 years in this journey going all the routes (not an agent although an agent came alongside me to give support and counsel ) including being seen by editors at Zondervan and Harvest House. What you share is true. Traditional publishers are primarily interested in authors who can make money for them while still having “us” do all the marketing. I was with two editors who were kind (and who I happened to know personally) but the bottom line was that as much as my work had wide appeal, I was not well known enough to be the draw needed from a business perspective. Finally a self publisher rose to the top for me – its bare bones office near where I live and most work outsourced. What I have appreciated about this company is the they do ala carte service determining only what an author needs. Unlike other self publishers who only have packages and, in my case, I did not need all the services in one package but needed attention for services (I have full page color photos) that would be elsewhere. I feel the fee I have been charged is very fair and I had those package fees to use for comparison. The delays in the process have only been circumstantial – not any neglect by the professional staff. I really think your article, Jerry, is most fair and one that I pray many considering self publishing will read and heed. And I found your article as it was posted on FB by the man who has been such a support to me (and who is a literary agent – just not mine). He wanted his followers to have your well written and researched article out for view. I am so glad he did. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Lynn.

      You’re not saying I said this, are you?

      ‘Traditional publishers are primarily interested in authors who can make money for them while still having “us” do all the marketing.’

      While they, and I, believe the author will always be the most enthusiastic promoter of their own work, trad publishers don’t expect the author to do all the marketing.

      • Lynn Severance

        Jerry, I was speaking to my own experience. That said, I believe you will agree that the amount of efforts traditional publishing houses once were able to do (setting up interviews, providing publicity, sending “new authors” out to promote their work using $$ provided by the publisher) is not what it once was because the trad publishers, too, have been affected by the economy. There was a time (as I have heard from established authors from those days of old ) that more was offered from trad. publishing than there is now. I feel you expressed what you shared well in your saying that which ever route an author goes, be prepared to enter into having a marketing plan. I know I had to provide one when I wrote a book proposal that was submitted to both traditional publishers I mentioned and I believe that is true for any book proposal.

        • “… your saying that which ever route an author goes, be prepared to enter into having a marketing plan.”

          Don’t recall saying that. Delete ‘having’ and I could own it.

          • Lynn Severance

            Fair enough! I truly did appreciate your article. I am sorry you found my responses of how I interpreted what you said difficult. And I apologize for “putting words together” that were not yours. It surely was not my intent.

          • Oh, no apology needed. Just striving for precision, and I hear you. I was a little surprised to see so many commenters mention the sort of ‘entirety’ of promotion falling to the author, even in trad publishing. You’re right on the money that it’s different from the way it used to be, but I want to try to dispel the myth that it’s all on the author. Involved, used, yes, but a trad publisher does a lot more than an author could do on his/her own.

            Good to have you commenting here, Lynn. No worries. :)

          • Lynn Severance

            Thanks, Jerry. Precision is important! You certainly have credibility in knowing current traditional publishing marketing means. I find what you have said in that regard encouraging for those who will seek publication using that means. God bless!

  • Erick

    As a new writer I appreciate your crucial information, my first book has been rejected by traditional publishers, but after contacting a research I found out that it was worth it. And then I met you, brightening my adventure and guiding me to fight for my career.
    I personally thank and encourage you to continue showing us the way as Jesus did to the sheeps.
    I will fight to the ending if that is what need to convince them.

    Thanks a lot

    • Thanks, Erick.

      • Erick

        Thanks for the respond jerry.

        One more information, if I can manage to put more pressure of my comitment and stick to the 21 lessons you taught us. Can I make it to send my manuscript to traditional publishers without sending it to professional editor.

        • Most people do, but if your message above is indicative, you probably do need editing first. “One more information” shows a lack of agreement in quantity. “Can I make it to send” is vague. A word is missing in your last sentence.

          Not intending to be critical, but little errors like that will hurt your chances of success.

          • Erick

            Point taken.
            Truth always hurt, any way thanks I’ll put more effort on to that.

          • Jerry B Jenkins

            Thanks for having such a good attitude, Erick. I trust you know I was not trying to be unkind, just trying to help.

        • Most people do, but it appears you would need editing first.

          “Thanks for the respond jerry.” should have been “Thanks for the response, Jerry.”

          “One more information,” shows lack of agreement and should have been “One more question…”

          “… if I can manage to put more pressure of my commitment” is cumbersome and vague.

          Same with “Can I make it to send my manuscript…”

          And a word is missing in your last sentence.

          Not intending to be critical, but such errors and typos will affect your chances for success.

  • John White

    I have been publishing my books on Amazon for years. I haven’t made any money at it, but it’s been free. Before Amazon I struggled for twenty years to finish my first book. (I lived out of the country and became discouraged with the process of getting my books published.) Now I’ve written eight of them. Two are sequels to that first one, and I am working on three more. Your guild has shown me a lot of flaws in my writing that I’m busy correcting. I am not opposed to traditional publishing at all. Free self-publishing has helped me prime the pump.

    • Good, John, but be careful not to use self-publishing as a credit when you do approach trad publishers. They won’t see it as a positive.

  • Maureen

    I attend Montrose Christian Writers Conference each year I’m able to do so. When my book manuscript was finished, I consulted some of my teachers for their advice about publishing. They have had a number of books published traditionally and have also published thousands of articles, so I wanted to get their input. They encouraged me to try to get my book manuscript published by a traditional publisher. After looking at the pro’s and con’s of a traditional publisher, I decided to pursue self-publishing instead. There were several reasons that contributed to my decision. First, I wanted to own the copyright, so I didn’t have to ask for permission to use my own words in talks that I give. I didn’t want to give up the copyright, only to have a company decide to take my book out of print at some point down the road. I didn’t want to be obligated to do marketing on a timeline imposed by a company. I have health problems that affect my ability to be active. There is no guarantee that a book will sell well, no matter who is doing the marketing. Self-publishing enables me to receive a larger percentage of sales profits, regardless of many books are purchased. I also wanted to have the final say in the book cover as well as the contents. I didn’t want to have to change the manuscript to satisfy an editor’s preference. I also wanted to get the book published sooner than it would have taken for a traditional publisher. These are some of the reasons I chose to self-publish. I realize there are many self-publishing companies that are not putting out books done in a professional manner. Thankfully, the company I self-published with turned out an excellent product. The process was frustrating. I felt like I had to do their job in many cases. I also had to prod them along to get things done. After my book was in print, the company shut down overnight. The owner walked away from his responsibility to pay overdue wages to their freelance editors and other employees, royalties owed to authors, and overdue rent to the owner of their facility. I was fortunate to have the finished manuscript file, so I could get it back in print after a few changes were made. Many people were left with nothing to show for the money they had paid upfront to the company. After that experience, I didn’t know what to do. I looked into other self-publishing companies. I didn’t need them to do anything other than to get the book back in print. I ended up acting as my own publisher and set up an account with IngramSpark, a division of Lightning Source press. Lightning Source was the printer the self-publishing company I had worked with used to publish their books. It is very economical, and they have an extensive distribution network. I was able to lower the price of my book by going through IngramSpark. I had no say in the price with the self-publishing company, and felt it was priced too high. So far I’m glad I chose to use IngramSpark. For me, it is the best option for getting my book back in print. I believe there are pro’s and con’s to each of the ways a book can be published. What is the best way for me isn’t necessarily the best way for someone else. It is a matter of weighing the pro’s and con’s and deciding what is the best option to pursue for each book.

    • Greg Turnquist

      To be clear, you DO have the copyright. It’s your work. What you have with any other publisher, is having granted them explicit rights. In essence, they have the right to print/ebook publish it, and NO ONE ELSE until your contract with them expires and the rights revert back to you.

      • Maureen

        Greg Turnquist, thank you for commenting on what I wrote. It seems to me that the status of one’s copyright must depend on how it is stated in the contract. I’ve spoken with people who have had their copyright purchased with no provision for it to ever revert back to them. I’ve also heard people say to make sure to include something that says if the company ever takes it out of print, the author has the right to obtain it back from the company.

        • You don’t need an agent to be able to read a contract and cross out ridiculous language like that. Even seven-figure trad contracts don’t call for the eternal purchase of rights.

      • Right.

    • I agree what’s right for one isn’t necessarily right for another, but you cite several fears about traditional publishing that are simply unfounded:

      “First, I wanted to own the copyright…’

      You would own the copyright.

      “…so I didn’t have to ask for permission to use my own words in talks that I give.”

      You would NEVER have to do that.

      “I didn’t want to give up the copyright, only to have a company decide to take my book out of print at some point down the road.”

      1–you would not give up the copyright, and 2–if the company takes the book out of print, the publishing rights revert to you.

  • Rick Taylor

    As I read this I immediately thought of a book my son sent me. The cover was the wrong era for the story setting. Simple punctuation was non-existent. And the story obviously needed help from plot to motivation to simple details about their activities. I was astounded that any editor would let it go like that. Your article told me why and how this pastor/author got burned.

    • There are some doozies out there, Rick. Of course there are some good companies too. A self-publishing author has to be very careful.

  • Ellamae

    I self-published after reading all the discouraging news about getting into traditional publishing. I don’t have years to spend on trying either. My experience wasn’t bad other than they did not do a proofreading after the initial edit (charged $1800) and the changes had been made. That was not what I paid for. I am also responsible for all marketing at which I am not qualified. The book looks good and reads well. I wish a traditional publisher would consider it. (I still own the rights.) is that possible? I would like to do a follow-up with a traditional publisher.

    • A traditional publisher is not likely to consider a self-published book unless it sells more than 10,000 copies. You’d be better off, Ellamae, to either make a new book out of it or do something entirely original–and don’t mention your self-publishing history to the trad publisher.

  • Great article! I am on my way to a Christian writers conference this week, and this is such great information to keep in mind. Thank you so much for sharing! There is a lot I still have to learn with regards to the book side of the business.

    • Have a great time, Linda. Conferences can be very encouraging and instructive.

  • Carol Ashby

    There is one great reason for self-publishing that you didn’t mention: retaining ownership of the rights to your book.

    We want to use my historical novels to support mission work, like schools and orphanages in Africa. That means more than donating royalties. It might mean letting mission organizations give away copies free for a donation to them. Selling my rights to a traditional publisher for a royalty shuts out many opportunities to put my books to work for God.

    I’ve worked hard to get my writing to the level where editors from traditional publishers have requested full manuscripts. As I’ve learned more about contracts, I’ve decided to self-publish what I hope is traditional-publisher quality. I don’t want anything I do to serve God to be less than my best.

    Thanks for another informative article with great links. I always check out your posts.

    • sandycathcart

      Thanks for sharing this. I opted for self publishing for similar reasons. No Christian publishers were interested in publishing a book for Native Americans who walk the Jesus Way. We have been delighted to be able to afford to give our books away as needed among the Native community and to also be able to sell them at a reasonable price.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      “Selling my rights to a traditional publisher for a royalty shuts out many opportunities to put my books to work for God.”

      No, Carol, you’ve been misinformed. Almost every traditional publisher now has a self-publishing arm, and even if they don’t, if you tell them you want a certain number of books at the lowest cost possible for ministry purposes, they would ALL work with you. I do this all the time, sending books to prisons and missions, etc.

      • sandycathcart

        I did not know this! Very helpful info.

      • Carol Ashby

        Thanks for letting me know there’s more possibilities than I I expected based on what I’ve read about book contracts. Are those kinds of contract clauses available for newbies as well as top sellers that a publisher treasures as one of their authors? I’ve read that contracts for debut authors usually have extremely limited flexibility. Do the lowest possible costs go as low as free for ebook versions?

        • Of course A-list authors have an easier time negotiating contracts, but publishers love knowing you’ll order a certain number of copies upfront and will work with you, especially for promotional (giveaway) copies.

          I don’t understand your last question. Unpack that for me. Thanks.

          • Carol Ashby

            Unpacking. If I own all rights, I can generate an electronic version (PDF or other epub format) or an audio version that I read myself (not hard, just takes pots of tea and some time). Those can be given away directly by the mission organization or via a coupon code to redeem at Amazon. If a publishing house owns the electronic rights, that option seems to be gone unless they would let me distribute electronic versions for free.
            I don’t have the resources to order a significant number of copies even at author prices, either. What if a few hundred are needed? Couldn’t do it.

          • Aah, I see. No, they wouldn’t want you doing an amateur edition in any form. But if you’re trad publishing, you could buy your copies with your advance or royalty money.

  • Megan Lee

    I have done several kinds of publishing. I first tried self-publishing, an expensive and discouraging route. Unless you are a professional marketer, self-publishing is a soul crushing experience. Then I went with a tiny press run by people who hadn’t a clue. My book was not put through one round of professional editing. The book cover choices they offered me were horrific (I finally had my husband do one for me), and they offered zero marketing. My third book is with a traditional publisher and the experience is night and day: professional people, professionally executed book covers, and many rounds of professional editing. I would not recommend any form of self publishing to people who are not able to pay for a professional editor and/or have some marketing experience and abilities.

  • hornet316

    A few years ago, I wrote a Christian military-thriller novel, and it even attracted the attention of a reputable literary agent who had years of experience as an executive in the Christian publishing industry. However, after trying unsuccessfully for more than a year to pitch this to traditional publishers in both the CBA and ABA markets, I decided my only feasible option was to self-publish as an eBook. Before taking this step, however, I decided to invest in quality content editing even though I am an experienced editor in newspapers and magazines. John DeSimone taught me how to write good thriller fiction. I recommend finding such a person through the Christian Manuscript Critique Service. I then enjoyed positive experiences self-publishing through smashwords.com and amazon’s Kindle Store. The only fee I paid was a modest sum to an experienced smashwords author who knew how to format an eBook so it would properly upload. Sales of “Sword of the Covenant” (in the Kindle Store with free previews available through http://www.swordofthecovenant.com) remain modest, but I am still hopeful this exciting tale of U.S. military aviators who come to the aid of Israel during a new Mideast war will catch the attention of someone who can take it further. Thanks for another great post, Jerry!

  • sandycathcart

    This discussion really hits home with me. I tend to write books that don’t fit into traditional marketing. One of my books (now self-published) was even a finalist in the Christian Writers Guild contest. I found a great agent. Worked to get nearly 70,000 followers on our FB site and still could not get any takers, though they all liked the writing. Because the focus is on Native Americans who walk the Jesus Way. Too religious (perhaps) for the secular market and too Native for the Christian market. Now our book is finally in the hands of Natives who are very grateful. Now, I’m writing a suspense novel I think could possibly be picked up by a traditional publisher but just the thought of all that work of a proposal and waiting, waiting, waiting discourages me a great deal. Any thoughts?

    • Hmm, my latest release has a Native American tribe in it. The Valley of the Dry Bones.

      Do a great proposal and you won’t have to wait long. :)

      • sandycathcart

        Thanks for your reply Jerry. I will check out your book! I did a great proposal with my agent but the story “Shaman’s Fire” is completely centered in authentic Native culture with the tribe’s approval. But after your post here, I’m going back to prayer and reconsidering approaching a publisher with my next book. I already have interest, just didn’t know if I wanted to go through all that again and didn’t see the benefits until your great post! Thanks again.

  • Sandra Felton

    In 1984 I had a book printed by a local printer to help meet the needs of 12,000 disorganized people who wrote me letters (remember this was way before email) asking for organizing help. The letters came unexpectedly as the result of a nationally distributed newspaper article about my local organizing group. The product was really poor in almost every way except helpfulness. But I sold about 7,000 then and kept selling until I sent it over the transom (silly me, I knew nothing) to Revell and, miracle of miracle, they published it! That book sold well over 300,000. And many more books on the topic of organizing followed over the years. It changed my life and helped many needy folks. This story could not, would not, happen in today’s world. I tell the story here as a matter of happy history.

    I recently self-published a book on the unusual topic of fairy tales for grownups with a contemplative and psychological bent. Although I am pleased with the product and it is on Amazon through Create Space, my dear little book remains pretty much unknown. I’m proud of the product but the marketing is tough. I will keep marketing as I can and will rejoice with each one sold. Every review heartens me. Perhaps my shy “Little Girl” book will come out of the shadows and sing her song. Sure hope so.

    • “This story could not, would not, happen in today’s world.”

      I don’t think that’s true, Sandra. 7k is enough to garner the attention of a trad publisher.

      • Sandra Felton

        Perhaps that is true but I was so ignorant of the whole process that I did not realize 7k was a big deal and am not sure I even told them. Looking back it seems that I was a passenger in a car that was, for the most part, out of my control. At least at the start. Since then it has been a lovely ride due mostly to the graciousness and fairness of Revell Publishing over these more than thirty years.

  • Marlene Worrall

    My novels were published by a very small publishing company that put them up on amazon. I paid for covers. The contracts have expired. One novel only garnered 5 star reviews; the other 4.stars. Would a traditional publisher look at republishing?

    • Unlikely, Marlene. The only self-published stuff that will turn a trad publisher’s head would have to have sold thousands. Better to use it as a learning experience and create something wholly new. Then, when you pitch it to trad publishers, don’t mention you self-publishing history.

  • I recently asked someone I know who is a great Christian man, a NY Times Bestselling Author about publishing sort of like a memoir on the transformation and growth of my life, from going from being disabled for about 12 years, to working, and even doing more in the future, including becoming an author. He told me to pursue self-publishing for that. What do you think about that advice, based on writing a memoir?

    • Books should be more than ABOUT something or someone; they should always be FOR THE PURPOSE of something. A memoir must be theme-oriented, not primarily biographical.

      That may seem nonsensical, given that it will be first-person and use anecdotes from the subject’s life. But it must be theme-oriented with plenty of universal transferable truths.

      That way they don’t have to be by famous people. The only thing i can think might have made him advise that was if he thought your memoir was too biographical and not them-oriented enough.

      • That does make a lot more sense, Jerry. It could have been that he does not know a lot about self-publishing either, since he probably hasn’t done any.

        Thanks again, Jerry. That was very helpful, and the posts are always helpful to me.

  • Samantha Boothroyd

    I self-published back in October through Create Space because I could do it myself and it not cost me a dime besides printing a proof; but this is because I chose to do everything myself rather than use any of their services.. That was done still with the desire to traditionally publish, if possible, in the future because I just wondered what the reception would be to my ideas. The unfortunate thing is I don’t have many people outside of family and friends who’ve read that I’ve spoken with. There are people in Canada and Europe that have purchased the e-books, but that’s another story. I would love to traditionally publish, I agree it’s the best way to go but I know so few publishing companies accept unsolicited manuscripts and it’s been hard to decipher the legitimate publishers from the scams because I’m not 100% sure on the criteria I should be looking at for a traditional publisher. And being an unemployed college graduate with a passion and love for writing, I can’t afford an agent to help get my foot in the door, but I continue my search because I know there might be that yes in a sea of a thousand ‘no’s… I write because I love it and find enjoyment in the stories and characters myself, whether another person ever reads it or not, but I’ve always thought it might be cool for somebody to read something I wrote and enjoy it and possibly have it spark something in them to see the love God has for them. I believe it can happen, and I’ll work my butt off to do all I can, but if it’s not what God has for me then I know it won’t work….

    • Samantha, all it means that trad publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts is that you are to start with a query letter and proposal first, so they’ll solicit the ms. for a look.

      What do you mean about “affording” an agent? An agent doesn’t get paid unless and until you do.

      • Samantha Boothroyd

        Oh wow… Interesting to know. Thank you. I’d always heard that meant unless you had somebody to be between you and the publisher they wouldn’t even look at it. Proposals and query letters aren’t easy, but manageable enough when people know what they are doing. Something to study more for sure. And I always felt agents were similar to attorneys where they are paid for their time and services ahead of time. I don’t have the money to keep somebody on “retainer” so to speak.

  • Elisa

    My self-publishing experience was a learning experience. Because of it, I attended the Christian Booksellers Assoc. convention. Big eye-opener. I also learned that the one thing I needed–editing– was non-existent with my self-publishing experience. I’m not bitter though. It was all part of God’s journey for me. No, I don’t recommend anyone else spend the money to self-publish. It wasn’t all it was SOLD to be!

  • This is a hot topic, Jerry! It sounds like some people have heard you loud and clear, while others are still trying to understand it all. I’ve self-published several books, but for me it’s been practice for the real thing. By self-published, I mean that I published them for free in paperback and ebook, by myself. Paying someone to self-publish doesn’t quite make sense to me. I have been approached by several “publishers” who were just people who decided one day to become publishers! It’s a sad game. I also went to a writers group that had several editors and publishers speaking. Amongst the speakers was a man who had a marketing business. He claimed to be able to help people get big on social media, etc. Since I had already learned about marketing and branding for my books, I found his terminology perplexing. He really didn’t sound like he knew much. I went home and looked up his social media presence…he only had a few hundred followers. I’m a rookie and I have thousands. Why would someone pay for his services? Because people don’t know any better. Thank you for shining the light on a very confusing subject for many. I’m really getting a lot out of Writer’s Guild. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for your kind comments, Marie, and for sharing your experience.

  • Joyce Webster

    Thank you for your article, Jerry.

    I feel I am in suspended animation because I was ready to press the CS button for my nonfiction book for widows with a companion journal and I received an email from a friend about a webinar with someone who had a “Press” and could be trusted to do a great job. (They had done undercover sleuthing, etc.) I watched, called and almost signed a contract for $6,000. (Which included 5 free copies of each book. I asked how many I would receive, or I might not have been promised any!)

    I should add that I had already had the books professionally edited, the interior designed and the cover was Kindle ready.

    Since I am what I call a “leaner” meaning I need help with marketing, I was delighted to learn that the “Press” had listed several ways that they would do that with me or is some cases for me. Also, I feel the book is a niche market, but can be used by the Lord to bless and encourage widows. (Funeral homes, hospital gift shops, etc.)

    A friend who has been an agent, told me to run the other way and not look back, so that is what I have chosen to do. (He urged me to use CS.) I was waiting for the final cover to be sent to me for printing, when I read your article, Jerry.

    As a widowed missionary, I want to support mission works like some of the others that I just read about, so it’s not about wanting to get rich.

    Big sigh… do I try to go the traditional way?

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Joyce. A few questions:

      What is CS? (Create Space?)
      Why does ‘leaner’ mean you need help with marketing? (What are you leaning toward?)
      “…do I try to go the traditional way?” Did you read my blog? :)

      • Joyce Webster

        Yes, to Create Space. Since my husband is not here to help me with marketing ideas (I guess I “leaned on him”) then I just feel that I need someone to guide me. (The Lord gave me Ps. 27:14 this a.m.) Yes, I definitely read your article and I can see that I need to get busy with a proposal. I will purchase your current Christian Writers’ Guide and go from there. Thank you for taking time to answer me.

        • You’re welcome, Joyce, and all the best with your project. :)

        • Joyce, do you have a website? I’d love to touch base. I’m finishing up a book on surviving the abduction of your child. Sounds like we are both on the same path of leading people through their grief with God’s comfort.

  • Elizabeth Herendon Dyer

    Thank you for the article. I am going to try traditional publishing my first book and see how that goes. However, I am currently designing covers for some self-published books. Either way, I am getting experience ;-)

  • Michael Gannaway

    I self-published my first book with Westbow because I wanted to get it out there ASAP. Yes, it was fairly expensive but they did quality work in putting it together. I haven’t given up on selling my book to a publisher but I am so thankful people are reading it right now.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Michael. All the best with your book.

  • Deb Gorman

    Hi Jerry! I am self-publishing my first book, but I do have a professional editor and cover designer. The book is in the creative non-fiction genre. We expect it to be finished for a Nov 1 publish date. While the finish work goes on, I’ve started Book 2 of the same title, and I’m working on a novel. All of these remarks and comments are scaring me. I would love to work with a traditional publishing house, but as everyone, including you, have said, it’s like breaking into Fort Knox with a toothpick! Now I’m afraid if I continue my plan to self-publish, even my toothpick will be taken from me.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Deb. It sounds like you’re committed to this course for now, so make the best of it. Do everything you can do to make it work. You’re giving yourself the best chance by having engaged an editor and designer, though, as you know, I wish you hand’t had to pay for that.

  • MM

    Thanks Jerry. I think most of us would have to admit, deep-down, we already
    knew the truth about self-publishing. What keeps it alive is the fear of more
    rejections and the under-dog story running through our minds that if we just
    “get it out there,” a groundswell audience would see the story is
    well worth a read. (And all the agents and publishers had been wrong in
    following the herd instead of stopping, for a moment, to smell the sweet, sweet
    rose of our no-name novel.)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Ha! :) Well put, but it’s good to keep the dream alive until we’ve exhausted all efforts to make our writing the best it can be and knock on every door.

  • Leah LM Wingert

    This is a great article, I’ve always been wary of self publishing. I read a book that was “self published” and actually in book stores. It was the worst piece of vanity published literature I’ve ever read. Now I understand why it was so bad! Trad publishing is hard and getting an agent is harder, but I would be happier with getting rejections (I get so many), than to publish it myself and harm my professional reputation. Thanks for the advice.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      You’re welcome, Leah. Well said.

  • Rick Taylor

    I don’t install my own plumbing, process my own meat, or fill my own cavities. I contract with experienced professionals who have all the specialized tools to do it faster and better than I could. Why waste my time learning their trade when I would rather spend my time elsewhere? I focus on what I want and choose my contractors carefully. So it is with writing. I focus on my area of interest (dare I say expertise?) and let them do the publishing. It has worked fine in my non-fiction work. Why not my fiction?

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Exactly, Rick. And yes, you may say ‘expertise”. :)

  • Lillie Marie Trotter

    There are some reputable self-publishing companies out there including Believers Book Services, Certa Publishing, Creation House, Destiny Image, West Bow, Xulon Press, etc. Though I also suspect a good number of self-publishing companies are below average to train wrecks. Others are excellent but lesser known. They don’t get the same kind of press as the bad ones.

    However, when the barrier of entry into an industry is low or lowered, you will always get a mix of questionable characters along with others who have the right motives and talent to succeed. Before technology made it possible for people to make their own movies, that outlet of creative expression rested solely in the hands of the so-called “Hollywood elite.” When Christian filmmakers started producing their own movies, the elite “laughed them to scorn.” The Christian filmmakers in it for the right reason kept going and kept improving.

    Traditional publishing has always been an elitist industry. If you were fortunate enough to have been born into it, gotten a good break early, or had awesome connections wonderful! Some profoundly talented writers don’t fall into either of those categories, and they take matters into their own hands. That’s resourceful. They need better guidelines on what to look out for, but they can get quality work through self-publishing.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Sorry, Lillie, but some of the companies you list are the very ones I’m talking about. As I said above, if one does opt for self-publishing, yes, there are some good, reputable companies out there. But writers should do themselves a favor and read this revealing book before they sign a contract: Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why (Updated Second Edition).

      If traditional publishing has always been an elitist industry, I never would have been published. Hardly elite, I was nobody from nowehere, as were a lot fo my colleagues (Philip Yancey, Francine Rivers, and many more); they’re “names” now, but they certainly weren’t when they broke in.

      Neither they nor I were “been born into it, got a good break early, or had awesome connections.” The subject, the approach, and the writing had to open the door.

      • Lillie Marie Trotter

        Sorry, I should have replied to you instead of posting again, Jerry, my error.

        • Jerry B Jenkins

          No worries. :)

  • Lillie Marie Trotter

    Hi Jerry,

    Thank you for responding and sharing your experience and insights, very informative.

    Do you have to be a part of an elite industry to be invited into it? I don’t think so. Elite industries want to survive and to do so they seek out talent. If you and some of the folks you mentioned were fortunate enough and clearly talented enough to have “gotten a good break early” what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what everyone wants?

    Recently, I was reading an article about corporate hiring practices. The author said that some of the very people working in some companies (talented, and doing very well) would not be hired by the same companies today because the selection processes in those companies are more rigid than ever.

    I have seen some of the books produced by some of the companies I mentioned, and they were good quality. Yes, you have to pay extra for the editing (which I think is horrible) but most will let you know up front. Yes, you don’t get many books in the “package” you select (which is not great either). However, they provide a unique service for a certain type of author.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Good questions, Lillie. Thanks for engaging.

      I wasn’t part of the industry or invited into it. I queried them. That’s the way it still works. People often misunderstand the caveat that publishers say they accept no unsolicited manuscripts. But that just means, “Don’t send us stuff we didn’t know was coming. Query. Propose. If the idea strikes our fancy, wwe’ll ask to see more. Then it becomes solicited.”

      There’s certainly nothing wrong with getting a good break early, but that’s not the way I got in. Neither is it the way most of my well-known colleagues did. (I’m just trying to dispel the myth that there’s some magic key or secret formula for getting a traditional publishing deal.)

      It’s true that it’s getting tougher and tougher to break in, no question. But that makes the reward all that more worth the effort too. If it were easy, anyone could do it. :)

      I’m not saying that the companies you listed don’t produce good quality books, but most of them will print schlock if they are paid to. If a writer doesn’t want editing, proofreading, design, etc., most self-publishing companies will print whatever they are asked – within reason.

      Though it’s against my policy to name names, I can tell you that more than one of the companies you listed has much deeper problems than some techie looking products. The book I cited will make that clear.

      You are a cogent writer, able to distinctly express yourself. It makes me wonder if you have had some disappointing interactions with the traditional publishers and feel you have to resort to self-publishing.

      Let me just say, I wish you wouldn’t. You should never have to pay to be printed when you can be paid to be published.

      http://www.JerrysGuild.com

      • Lillie Marie Trotter

        Jerry,

        Thank you. Actually, I haven’t had any experience pitching to publishers in over twenty years. I did recently pitch to an agent and got great response back. I want to do more collaborative writing.

        Right now through my agency, I help other writers and organizations produce custom books. The Lord told me that when He had something that He wanted me personally to share through a book He would let me know. Ouch? Humility? Truth.

        I admire individuals and organizations that have great stories and I do my best to help them produce high quality books. They don’t want to live the “writer’s life,” they just want to share their stories.

        I on the other hand do want to live the writer’s life or something like it one day! I don’t know when the Lord will release me to begin writing my own books, but when He does, I want to keep my options open. If I get a traditional publisher, I know it will be a great move of God, especially as tough as it is out there!

        Jerry, thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom with us.

        • Jerry B Jenkins

          That sounds like rewarding work, Lillie.

      • Katinka

        Thanks for clarifying that point on unsolicited manuscripts. That was very helpful. Also, I’d like to add that the traditional publishing route can be made easier by following the example of those who have succeeded. If you look at any decently published author’s bio you will see a small train of publications attached to their names, literary magazines etc, where they have built a reputation and also worked on their craft by submitting shorter works and poetry. And as a bonus they often pay you. (I’m not adding that comment for you as I am sure you are aware of that, but for other readers.) Editors read widely and will recognise a name and the path of a writer putting in their dues and you might get a decent look in for that reason, or a referral to a publisher who would be interested in reading your ms.

        • Jerry B Jenkins

          Excellent point, Katinka. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you for a great post. When you say “Almost every traditional publisher now has a self-publishing arm” in the comments, are you also including the Big Five?

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I think so. I know the biggest does. Let me research that and get back to you so I can be more precise.

  • Dre

    Truly excellent post, Jerry, many thanks. It made me reconsider the self-publishing route.
    One of the reasons why I thought of self-publishing is that I am not American (or of any English-speaking country), yet I write in English, for a (presumably) international audience. I have no idea whether I would be able to traditionally publish overseas while not being there myself; would you know whether that is possible?

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks for your kind comments, Dre. Yes, i think it’s possible with internet technology as it is. American publishers publish foreign writers all the time, so why not the other way around?

      • Dre

        Thanks for your reply, Jerry! Well, once I have a book, I’ll have to try it out. :)

  • Judy Peterman Blackburn

    Hi Jerry,
    Have talked to you about self-publishing before. Wished I would have realized all your post has said before I went that route, but I did this years ago. So now I’m more in the know.
    I self-published a novel a few years back and it did okay. I sold a couple hundred or so, had a couple of signings, all exciting for sure. But now it’s kind of went by the wayside in spite of the company telling me they would help with marketing, which I couldn’t see they did much.
    Anyway I have taken the book off the market. I re-titled it and have re-written and added to it. (I had thought to write a sequel) Now I’m ready for the edit which I’m using all I’m learning from the Guild and your advice. Also I purchased a couple of Brandilyn Collins books (loved her interview with you, probably my favorite to date) and am following her techniques.
    I checked out the Beta Readers from your list. They are a bit spendy for me at this time. So I will do my best with query letters and proposals and find that publisher to take me and my book on.
    Thank you for a great post.
    Judy :)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Good, Judy, and by now you know enough to know that traditional publishers will not be interested in your self-publishing experience. It would be a detriment rather than a help. Not sure what you mean by beta readers on my list. I dont’ have such a list and beta readers as a rule trade favors–they don’t charge. What list are you referring to?

      • Judy Peterman Blackburn

        I had asked the question about readers in the general section of the guild. The ForumAdmin answered with a link that is quite lengthy, but it is in that section. It listed DiAnn Mills, Andy Scheer and a couple others. I’d like to find the ones that trade favors. :)
        Another question, since a traditional publisher won’t want to hear my self-publishing story shouldn’t I still tell them that my novel may still be out there? The self-publishing place said the novel could still be available in the first form. I just want to be honest about it. :)
        Thank you so much for your time in answering this. I love my story and would like to get it out there.

        • Jerry B Jenkins

          Those aren’t beta readers. Those are editors. They are modestly priced, but beta readers just read and tell you what they think and you pay them by reading theirs and telling them what you htink.

          I’m saying to do something new for a traditional publisher. They will have no interest in a self-published book unless it sold thousands of copies.

  • Mary Sandford

    THANK YOU for giving me sufficient info in one place for the many, many, many people who tell me they are self-publishing and worse that I should too.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Some have ok experiences, Mary. But ask specific questions and see what you think. If I told you I self-published with XYZ Company and was happy, ask:
      1–How much did it cost you for EVERYthing.
      2–How many copies have you sold, not given away?
      3–Did you lose money, break even, or make money?

      Then delve into whether the company delivered on all its promises, doing all it said it would do. After the contract was signed, were they as easy to connect with, work with, etc.?

      • Mary Sandford

        I’m already convinced that self publishing is not for me. But I will be sending a link to this info for others.

  • Michael Tolulope Emmanuel

    This post was eye-revealing, and I do agree that readers deserve quality writing, self-published or not… And it is of course a paramount need to hone the writing craft as much as one can.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Michael.

  • Daniel Kuehn

    Thanks for the insight, Mr. Jenkins. I’ve published “FUTURITY” under a publisher and only now realized that it’s not a “indie” but really just a self-publishing company. Whoops.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Well, indie and self- are interchangable definitions. Any time you pay anything, that’s self-publishing. Your goal is a traditional publishers who pays you and covers all the expenses, taking all the risk.

  • Kim Armstrong

    The self-publishing route worked for me but I agree that it is expensive and substandard. My two published books were written in obedience to God. I never claimed to be a writer but had several stories to tell about God’s gift of healing and miracles. My background as a critical care and hospice RN has allowed me to witness the supernatural intervention of the Father. He called me to to pray for patient’s and families who had no Hope. He intervened and the patients lived.

    The traditional publishing companies rejected my stories and after 10 years and multiple attempts, I gave up. The self-publishing route gives me opportunity to write and publish. The work is probably sub-standard by the markets opinion but I sold over 500 copies of my first book in the first week and recouped my investment. The other 500 were sold over the next year. My platform of nurses, patients and their families helped me to sell all my purchased books.

    I have quit trying to publish in the traditional market with the exception of anthologies like “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Despite hiring professional editors, I can’t seem to find a book coach that is interested. My writing is in obedience to God and if He tells me to write than He will take care of getting the words out to readers.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      That’s the perfect self-publishing scenario, Kim, and Brava to you that you got your message out where you wanted it to go. You clearly exhausted all efforts to traditionally publish, so you then went this route by choice. (I’m not sure I’d recommend anyone try for a decade though. That’s some perseverance!)

      Are you familiar with my online Writers Guild, btw? You ought to get on the notification list of when we open enrollement again and then try a month risk-free. It’s only a little over a dollar a day, and if it’s not for you, we refund you in full, no questions asked, no pressure, no guilt trip. And in the meantime you have 24/7 access to all our live training for that month and all the archived training since January. http://www.JerrysGuild.com

      • Kim Armstrong

        Thank you, Jerry. I’ll look into it.

  • Well said Jerry – this serves as a good reminder of some of the goals and standards every self-publishing company should pursue and not lose sight of. Thanks!

  • Chalkbrd

    One other reason self-publishing might be advantageous is if you struggle with an on-going health issue that will prevent you from adhering to a traditional publisher’s rigorous schedule or from being prolific enough to be profitable for most of them.

  • Chad Young

    Prior to reading this I have already sent a check (several months ago) to what I believe is a reputable company because of whom they are a subsidiary of. I am in the stage of finalizing cover design and layout. I have to admit, I never shopped my book around before going with this self-publish company. Between work and family and lack of knowledge on how to submit my book to a publisher, I opted for what sounded like an easier route. Is their time to repent, and if so what would those steps look like?

    • You’d have to read the fine print of your agreement with them and see how much is refundable. There’s no doubt an opt-out clause, but it might cost you more than you’re willing to sacrifice.

  • Joyce E. Johnson

    Thanks for this information, Jerry. It has been very helpful. I continue to hone my craft to better compete in the ‘traditional’ publishing market, even though at the age of 69 it leaves me less a chance to have mine seriously considered in comparison to the younger writers, although you recently addressed that subject too, that one is never too old. :) Still, it gives me more pride and self satisfaction just to know that if I continually work at it to get it to the level of acceptance or professionalism I have a much better chance. That is worth it to me. And, thanks for all the past posts and helpful information on how to improve our writing skills. I am grateful for all I learn from you.

  • tola akinsulire

    Thank you very much Jerry for this article. I am currently working on my book and I am not sure what route to pursue. You have provided a wealth of information to work with.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Thanks, Tola. Glad to be of some help.

  • Thank you greatly for this article. You saved me from a costly and frustrating mistake.

  • Delmesha Richards

    This was a discouraging read to say the least, but I’m still pushing forward because I completely understand the purpose in sharing the morbid truth. :-) I actually purchased Michael Hyatt’s Book Proposal Guide and am about 85% done with my draft proposal and to be honest, I’m a bit intimidated by the reality of my prospects but I plan to push ahead anyway and pursue an agent, asking for feedback from rejections, revamp and edit and exhaust all of my options until self publishing is my only option left.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Do push ahead, Delmesha, and don’t pay to be printed until you’re sure you can’t be paid to be published.

      • Delmesha Richards

        Wow, thanks so much for sharing that. That’s a perfect caption for me during this process and I’ll have to post it a few places as gentle reminders and encouragement. Will do!!

  • Gaynor

    If a publisher offers to publish your book with no direct contribution from you but part the contract includes a guarantee that you will buy 400 of your own books at half price, is this considered self publishing? It still sounds like it to me because you still end up spending a great deal of money.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I agree with you, and I suspect you mean half of the retail price–which is way more than their cost. If the offer was 400 at cost plus a modest profit (say 10 or 15%) that might make sense. But regardless, traditional publishers take ALL the financial risk. That half-of-retail price for 400 books would probably pay all their expenses, plus.

  • James Dewille

    Hello is there some professional publishing agents you could recommend. I have sent my childrens book to Dorrance in Indiana, and Page Publishing in New York. I was told the book had to pass three of five editors to be accepted. 10 editors read my book and all 10 accepted it with open arms. It is my first book and could use some help getting it published. The two big companies wanted $20,000 just to get started.
    I am filing a disability for a neck injury i suffer when i was younger. I dont have much in life and was hoping i could find someone who could help me publish as i continue writing other books.
    Any help would be appreciated…i would be willing to share profits with anyone willing to help, it’s all i have to offer. I assumed i would be paid for a publishing house to make this dream happen. I was wrong and now need a direction to go in. Thank you for any help anyone can give me. My email is winterhawk1962@gmail.com

    • Yes, James, you’re exactly right that you don’t want to pay to be printed when you can be paid to be published.

      Being told you need a certain number of editors to accept you and then finding that even more than that were unanimous is an obvious ploy by a publisher who is going to charge you and not the other way around. Your manuscript could have been horrible, but they would always accept it enthusiastically if they thought it would be accompanied by a check.

      Real agents and traditional publishers may be found in The Christian Writers Market Guide (www.JerryJenkins.com/guide) and The Writer’s Guide (Writer’s Digest Books).

      You’ll want to be certain you put your best foot forward, however, because traditional publishers who take all the risks and pay you DO accept or reject manuscripts based on quality, commercial viability, etc. Your punctuation and grammatical mistakes in your letter above would trouble a traditional publisher or agent from the start:

      Hello [need punctuation here] is [wrong word; ‘agents’ is plural so this word should be ‘are’] there some professional publishing agents you could recommend.[should be a question mark, not a period] I have sent my childrens [this is a possessive, so needs an apostrophe] book to…

      Just trying to help.

      • James Dewille

        Hello Jerry, thank you for the information. I know my grammes is seriously bad. The book after i write it was professionally edited if that helps. The lady that edited the book thought it was amazing. She charged me 5 cents per word. It cost me a total of $600 to have it edited.
        I have many ideas and have always been told to write the story and let someone fix it for me. After she was do it had Good Content and flow. The lady went blind after editing my book so it never got published. I was registered with the Library of Congress.

        When I was younger i broke my back and neck, got nothing for it. 26 years later it has put me in a bad spot where i cannot work. I have done Gods work and helped so many people throughout my life it is the only reason i have a roof over my head or food in my belly. I worked all the way up to a year ago, never really made much money but help everyone i could in my life.
        After my divorce I wrote this book through God and it literally saved my life. I seen so many people in my lifetime just hit and obstical in life and just give up. I t was where i was and i took every part of good and survivql in me and wrote this Childrens book to help as many as i could. Now i need some help publishing it and i keep trying. I have no money but in know it is a good book. There are no pictures but descriptive word that pain the picture in your mind and make your heart race. It show how all racs of people can get along for the greater good of man.

        I used animals because children realte to them very good. I picked each animal as a natural enemy of the other to show how man can learn to get alone. There is action and some comedy to keep their attention, and a story woven through it to show to never give up in life.

        Like this letter is was not grammatically correct so i had it fix and the result was just amazing. I thank you for any help you can give me. I am 54 years old and at the end of my rope so to speak. I got to hold my Faith that God will help me get this done somehow and give me a way to provide for myself once again.

        Thank You and God Bless
        James

  • Ryan Gallagher

    Hi this is good stuff but one thing at least should be corrected: there is no scientific proof that serif fonts are more legible than sans serif. Various studies have been done and some have claimed findings one way or the other, but for each study that claimed to find evidence of increased legibility for serif fonts, there are flaws in methodology. Google “Alex Poole sans serif vs serif” for a lot more information.

    • Speedreaders, of whom I am one, can tell you they read much faster with that technique because it’s designed to alow the serifs to trigger the brain. When I’m at my peak of words per minute, I read three words for every two of sans serif.

      But even if I took out the phrase about it beling scientifically proven, I wouldn’t advise typesetting your book in it, because it remains a sign of self-publishing. The vast majority of traditionally published books are set in serif type, because those publishers obviously believe this, proven or not. The time it would take to turn this tide, even if you’re right, wouldn’t be worth the time it would take from your writing, in my opinion.

      • Ryan Gallagher

        serifs don’t “trigger the brain”. This is hokum. The main reason you read serif type faster is because you are more used to it.
        I do agree that from a standpoint of giving people what they expect, serif type is preferable. But the only reason the convention exists is the inertia due to that very phenomenon—people are more used to it, and publishers (& designers, like me) don’t want to rock the boat.

        • You said there was no scientific evidence, so how do you know it’s hokum? I learned speedreading 50 years ago, and the fact was then that more than 90% of the customers of the system we were on read serif type significantly faster. That sounds pretty scientific to me.

          But again, my point is that people who self-publish don’t want to appear self-published, and setting a book in sans serif type is a self-publishing giveaway.

          • Ryan Gallagher

            with respect, you have this backwards. “It’s designed to allow the serifs to trigger the brain” is hokum *because* there is no evidence. I get where you’re coming from, but an anecdote about a speed reading system from 50 years ago doesn’t prove a benefit, and even if it did, attributing such benefit to a vaguely-worded neurological effect is yet another step that would require its own evidence to be called “scientific”.

            But I absolutely concede that serif type is almost always the wrong choice for long-form publishing (excepting maybe textbooks and such), for the other reasons mentioned.

          • It’s the same speedreading program still most popular today, and their experts had been studying it long before my time. Because readers did so much better with serif type, they apparently deduced that the serifs allowed the eyes to speed faster through the material, giving the reader visual shortcuts. To my knowledge, that’s still their explanation. Of course I suppose no one could ever know for certain why serifs contribute to the results, but the results are ahrd to argue with, and serifs are the only difference.

  • Molly Seay

    I’ve worked for three years having my book professionally edited, but I doubt anyone will publish it. I was told by a professional that no one will read it or offer me a contract because the story is flawed, not the craft of the writing. It’s a romance that fits none of the tropes of romance. Seven books in and I may have to give up on the dream. The book is too different.

    • Of course I haven’t seen it, but as you may know, I caution against putting much stock in absolute statements–even from me–like “no one will read it or offer me a contract.” Google the publishing history of J.K. Rowling and Madeline L’Engle. Their books were rejected multiple times before L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time became a Newberry Award winner and a classic that has stood the test of more than 50 years, and Rowling (Harry Potter) became the most successful novelist ever.

      What do you mean about your romance fitting none of the tropes?

      • Molly Seay

        The first chapter starts off with a kidnapping and attempted suicide. The main couple is married at the start of the book, and it deals with the past abuse and depression of both the man and woman. It’s about unconditional love and deals with racism, the man is English and the woman is black creole, and classism. The heroine is very close to her best friend and her aunts, so there’s strong female support. Both the man and woman are devoted parents, and there are a lot of scenes with the man and his children since that’s not often seen in books. I think the book is scaring people off, or maybe everyone of my readers are lying and the book is terrible! I’m just ready to give up.

        • One way to guarantee failure is to give up. Let me see the first 200 words.

          • Molly Seay

            I slammed the phone down on the counter after the third time Jayme, my husband, sent his phone straight to voicemail. Leaning into the counter, I inhaled the aroma of my homemade spaghetti sauce and closed my eyes. When Angela stopped singing the alphabet song her silence made the hairs on my neck and arms stand erect.
            Opening my eyes, I turned away from the stove toward the table where Angela sat, and there he stood at the entrance of the kitchen. His brown eyes bore into me and then into the face of my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Angela’s dark blue eyes sparkled like my Tiffany solitaire as she watched him. Her lips began to tremble, and I forgot to be irritated with Jayme.
            “Dr. Annice Mereck Brilane,” Patrick Canal said my married name like it tasted bad. “Put the phone down.”
            The house phone fell out of my grasp and landed with a loud clatter on the floor. I ran over to snatch up my daughter before my mind could process the situation. In my arms, Angela squeezed my neck so tight that she pulled on my hair.
            “Move, bitch,” Patrick yelled and pointed the gun toward the living room.

          • I wouldn’t give up, but I WOULD become a ferocious self-editor. http://bit.ly/28QpyZS

            I was able to cut nearly 40%.

            I slammed the phone on the counter the third time my husband’s phone went straight to voicemail. I closed my eyes and inhaled the aroma of my homemade spaghetti sauce. But when little Angela stopped singing, the hairs on my neck stood erect.
            There Patrick Canal stood in the kitchen doorway. His brown eyes bore into me and then into the face of my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Her dark blue eyes sparkled like my Tiffany solitaire, but her lips trembled.
            Dr. Annice Mereck Brilane,” Patrick said, articulating my married name like it tasted bad. “Put the phone down.”
            I ran to snatch up my daughter, and Angela squeezed my neck so tight she pulled my hair.
            “Move, bitch!” Patrick yelled, pointing a gun toward the living room.

          • Molly Seay

            If I need to cut that much to sell it then I need to give up. Your version left me cold inside. I’m just not cut out to be a writer. Thanks for the feedback though. My work doesn’t belong anywhere.

          • Stanley Steamer

            His version is MARVELOUS!

          • Molly Seay

            Your comment makes me want to slit my wrists. But now I totally give up writing because of people like you. you read my comment why even say that in response to me? his version left me depressed as it cut out all the inner going on of the mc. His way of writing wouldn’t work for this book in any way, but if that’s what people want I totally give up in life.

          • D. Rey

            Molly, I know I’m late in the ballgame as far as answering, but don’t give up. Different people have different point of views of what “good writing” is. I had a manuscript which I sent to two different publishers. The first publisher rejected my manuscript and basically told me that I needed to go back to Writing 101—ouch! With the exact same manuscript, the second publisher told me they absolutely loved my writing style and offered me a contract! If you love to write…write! That is where the pleasure is at anyway. I have eight books published and I sell less than 100 books per year total. Yet I feel I am a success when readers tell me they enjoyed my books. Write for you…

          • Molly Seay

            Thanks, but you know I thought I had deleted this conversation. I’m glad I’m glad I didn’t because you made me feel a bit better. Thanks again.

  • Nick Davis

    Yea, right, like traditional publishers don’t take advantage of people as well. I get sick of these posts where they tell you self publishing is a waste of time. If done tastefully, indie books are just as good as traditional published books. People should stop demonizing the self publishing process, and discouraging writers. Just because a book is self published, doesn’t make it a bad book. And I know a couple of traditional writers who have 5,000 books sitting in their garage right now, and have to go the same route as well, selling them out right, because their publisher basically abandoned them after six months. We need to be more supportive of all writers, traditional and indie!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I couldn’t agree more, Nick.

      My Bottom Line
      This post is not intended to start an argument or even a discussion on the pros and cons of self-publishing. It reflects my view, and those who vehemently disagree are entitled to theirs.

      But even if you are in that camp, let’s agree on this: Regardless the method of publishing you choose, your reader deserves quality writing. Self-publishing is no excuse for less than your absolute best effort.

  • D. Rey

    Jerry,

    First of all, I have the utmost respect for your writing and ministry. Your article brought out some very good points. But just as you said, it is your view, in which you are entitled to your opinion. My view stems from experiences I have had with traditional publishers, and why I now self-publish and probably will not go the traditional route again. First of all, I am a decent
    writer who has great storylines. I may lack in artistic expression, but I feel my dialog more than makes up for it. I wrote a youth series titled: The Fuller Creek Series. It is similar to The Red Rock Mysteries that you and Chris Fabry wrote. I believe my series is just as good as yours, yet I only sell around 72 books per year. Why? Because my name is not Jerry Jenkins; nor James Patterson or Stephen King. I am a nobody, and in today’s publishing world, “a nobody” rarely gets traditional contracts. At least not with “the big five”. Large traditional publishers want clients with large platforms, or someone with a proven record of a minimum sales. I don’t have any of that. Yes, I still obtained contracts with your small to medium size traditional publishers. However, most of them do not give you an advance. They also do very little in regards to marketing. My first experience was with a secular publisher. They liked my book and sent me a contract. However, because you give up control to them, when it came to editing, they didn’t like some of my conservative views and wanted to change or “soften” the message. Ultimately, we agree to cancel our contract over these differences. I then learned my lesson and went with a Christian publisher. Once again, be careful of the fine print on your contract. It said, “we have the right to edit your book.” Notice it said, “the right” to edit the book. Well, they may have had the right, but that doesn’t mean they “exercised” that right. They published my book just as I submitted it to them. Fortunately, my wife and I had edited it repeatedly, so it was in pretty good shape. This
    publisher has since gone out of business, and now I have to start all over again to re-publish this book. With another book, I went with a different traditional publisher. The experience was good, but once again, if you don’t have a name or platform, you won’t sell many books. Then because of the slow sales, they started to charge me an annual fee because my book didn’t sell a minimum amount. Also, if you don’t have good sales in your prior books, you will have a hard time getting a traditional contract with any future books. Publishers always ask you about prior sales. Given my experiences with traditional publishers, I now I self-publish all my books. It’s very rewarding to see the final product come to my doorstep knowing I created it—as I do everything myself. Since I began to self-publish, I still have the same
    amount of sales, but at least now I’m making three-times the amount in royalties. My point being…, that there are tens of thousands of writers out there just like me who don’t have a name or platform. Sending out queries or trying to get an agent can take years, and still you may never land a traditional contract. Then as in my case, I found that traditional contracts are not what their cracked-up to be. Just my viewpoint.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      D., I hear you and feel for you, but your endorsement of self-publishing is not aided when you say “a decent writer who has great storylines…[sells] around 72 books per year.” With that you make three times what you made in a traditional deal?

      And the logic of why doesn’t hold water. “Because my name is not Jerry Jenkins, James Patterson, or Stephen King.”? By that logic, we three would never have succeeded either. Who had ever heard any of those names before we were published? No one. We may have marketable names now, but the writing had to succeed to give us those names.

      “…if you don’t have a name or platform, you won’t sell many books.” I was an unknown executive. Stephen was a substitute teacher. James was a lawyer.

      “Sending out queries or trying to get an agent can take years…”
      I know of no one in my 40 years in the business who took years to get an agent. It’s not easy, but no one should let years pass. If it takes that long, it’s not going to happen.

      As you say, we’re each entitled to our opinions based on our experience, and I respect yours, even if we disagree.

  • Elizabeth Grey

    Hmm … not sure the statistics are on your side here. In e-book sales self published authors outsell traditional publishers so your 10% of 10,000 vs. 70% of 1,000 doesn’t hold.

    Sure, many self-published books are below standard – but many self-published authors aren’t viewing their projects as businesses. It is also true that many trad published books are below standard too and I’m sure we’ve all cursed more than one book we’ve paid a lot of money for in a bookstore.

    In romance – the largest selling genre – self-publishers make a killing. And here’s the key – if you write in genres suited to self-publishing (romance, fantasy, sci-fi) and you have a number of series titles out there, then it’s very possible to make far more money than you ever could have dreamed with a book deal.

    How many trad published authors earn back their advances and are never heard of again?

    I know this is an old post, but the figures are out there to get a better sense of the market. authorearnings.com is great as a guideline and comparison of trad vs. SP in those best-selling genres.

    • Appreciate your input, Elizabeth. Thanks!

      I’ve had my say, so I’ll leave your comment here for others to consider.

  • Nancy Zehr

    Good advice. I published with Tate because I had a message I wanted to share about disabilities. A friend of a friend said they were a good ethical company. I was scammed and regret publishing so early. I have worldwide followers on twitter with other groups of interest. I have no way of knowing what I sold. I do know that a few friends purchased from amazon, and I never received royalties. It is a mess, but I am glad they have been caught. I wish I would have read this article two years ago. It has great advice for any aspiring author. I feel like the quality of my book would be much better if I had a professional editor. I was promised editing services and then expected to do every check. Thanks for the good article. I have ideas for the next step of publishing.

  • Melissa Abramovitz

    I’m a traditionally published children’s author, and right now am trying to help out a nonprofit organization that seeks to self-publish a children’s picture book as part of an international effort to help save a particular endangered species. I know nothing about self-publishing, and I’m wondering if you can recommend a reputable self-publishing company that gives discounts to nonprofits.

  • Jone Doe

    a new self publishing firm in the market. Check out http://www.indiebookconsultants.com . Services worth a try!