Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing III

By Scott Nicholson
(With Kindle giveaways)
Today’s little list of the “Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing” comes from someone who has been there. I’ve had agents, not had agents. I’ve been rejected hundreds of times. I’ve published in major, small, and independent presses, and now primarily self-publish. I’ve been a bestseller and had books I couldn’t make someone read at gunpoint. And all of the routes are difficult. If you think it’s hard to write a book, try selling one. But before you draw battle lines, know the territory.

Pros of having agent
1. Most writers can’t arrange lunch with an influential publisher, talk over salad, and leave with a book deal.
2. An agent can get you more money, usually more than the 15 percent commission.
3. An agent can guide you for an entire career, point out the landmines, dun publishers for money owed, and stay ahead on trends.

Cons of having an agent
1. The best book in the world won’t matter to them if they can’t sell it.
2. Your book immediately becomes New York-centric, measured by all the other deals, relationships, commodities, industry politics, and corporate bottom lines, as well as the pecking order of your own agency.
3. It’s possible the agent becomes a roadblock, or a black hole where your work vanishes for years.

Pros of having a publisher
1. They do most of the work besides the writing.
2. They have a system in place designed to distribute and promote books.
3. They can pay you money immediately.

Cons of having a publisher
1. They take most of the money.
2. They may keep your rights virtually forever.
3. They solely determine the fate of your book, via profit-and-loss statements, print runs, and the amount of the advance, so there’s automatically a ceiling placed on your book.

Pros of doing it yourself
1. You keep all the money.
2. You get to find your own audience.
3. You control everything, and the success and failure are yours alone.

Cons of doing it yourself.
1. You keep all the money and there may not be much.
2. You have to find your own audience.
3. You control everything, and the success and failure are yours alone.

More and more writers are developing hybrid careers, where they have agents or use publishers but also self-publish material that’s either been out of print or has a smaller or niche audience. This will probably become the standard working model for middle-class writers in the next few years. But to make it work, pay attention to the rights you sign away in contracts—the fairest deals should return the work to you after a certain period of time or when sales drop below a certain level. After all, it’s your work. If you don’t care about it, why should anyone else?

Scott Nicholson's Disintegration is a Kindle bestseller, and he's also written the thrillers As I Die Lying, Drummer Boy, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, Burial to Follow ,and October Girls. His revised novels for the U.K. Kindle are Creative Spirit, Troubled, The Gorge, and Solom.  His story collections include Ashes, The First, Murdermouth: Zombie Bits, and Flowers. Get more writing advice at Haunted Computer.

To be eligible for the Kindle DX and Kindle 3 giveaways, simply post a comment below with contact info. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. Thanks for playing. Complete details at

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  1. Some difficulty with making this post stick--one comment entry from mrlucky at charter dot net. If you don't see your comment, please post again for entry. Thanks, hope you enjoy the post and good luck int he giveaways.


  2. Scott, drop by the office and read the rescheduling post. This post isn't up until next week. ;(

  3. You've summed it up nicely. I've been with small presses, both print and digital, and have decided to make my short backlist available in digital formats.

    The hardest part, I think, is finding the time and energy to get the word out.

    By the way, there's a new Amazon affiliate, Backlist Ebooks where a good number of authors are listing the books they've previously published through traditional print publishers, and are now self-publishing them.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  4. And no matter what we decide about agents and publishers, we still must do a lot of the promotion and marketing on our own. :)

  5. I forgot all the contact information.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  6. Very informative post. I agree about how authors can have a foot in each camp - e-books and traditional - and benefit from that. And e-books are no longer looked down upon like they once were. I have some books in hardcover and some as e-books and am quite comfortable in both places.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Sorry. I made an error in my contact info.

    This is the way it should read:

    I'll be following you! Great information!!! I have a book coming out soon with a small press, but wish I had known earlier about e-books and self-publishing. Ah well. Will learn it now. (A Long Journey Home)
    Don't know if I did this contact info correctly...]

  9. Your Hard to keep up sher your on the right day? well I entered Both just to make sher.

  10. Excellent post, very concise and practical advice. I think the hybrid career that you talk about is definitely going to become de riguer for most writers -- and everyone's hybrid career experience will be different, depending on what compromises you're willing to make and which rights you're willing to lose. Food for thought indeed.

    Neil Vogler's blog: A WRITER, HE MUTTERED

  11. Great insights for those of us who read the books, not write them. Thanks.

  12. Hm... interesting..
    You can reach me at

  13. Not being a writer, most of this doesn't apply to me, but I do have a writer friend and have sent that person here to read your post. I think that person would really benefit for your info. ;)

    Count me in for a Kindle! :D



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