The Disadvantages of self publishing

Self-publishing brings many benefits not least of which is the ability to get one’s work published quickly (indeed for many aspiring authors self-publishing is the only option given that most established publishing houses will not “risk” publishing unknown authors). The purpose of this post is however to deal with some of the downsides associated with self-publishing.

I self-published my collection of short stories, The First Time, using the services of a company which specialises in the field of self-publishing. The company offers a variety of packages ranging from an ebook only option through to the publication of both an ebook and a printed version (Print on Demand or POD). They also offer editorial services, book cover design and a press release service. I plumped for the ebook only option and paid for book cover design as an optional add-on.

One of the advantages of utilising the services of a self-publishing company is that they will arrange for the formatting and distribution of your work. In the case of (the company I used) they distribute titles to approximately 200 outlets including Amazon and Google Books. As of today (12 January) my book, The First Time is available from around 10 ebook retailers. While it gives me a sense of achievement to Google The First Time and see it displayed on a number of sites the speed at which publishers are adding the title is frustrating. In particular my book has still not yet appeared in Apple’s Ibook Store.

Another disadvantage associated with self-publishing is that you, the author must put a great deal of time and effort into promoting your book. This can (and often is) fun, however it entails a good deal of hard work the benefits of which are not always obvious (I.E. blogging about your book will not, necessarily lead to a take off in sales). One must be patient and keep plugging away.

Many bloggers specialising in the area of writing and publishing will recommend that authors use a variety of sources to promote their work (for example WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads). While I’d endorse this advice I’d also caution against spreading oneself to thinly. If one has the time to regularly update multiple social media then all power to your elbow. If, however one has a fulltime job or other commitments the regular updating of several platforms may not be possible. In such instances I’d recommend concentrating on one (maybe two) platforms as it is better to produce quality posts on a limited number of social media than risk imperilling the quality of your writing by attempting to post on a wide variety of platforms.

I’ve often heard it said that one should attempt to post every day in order to keep your blog’s (and your writing’s) profile high up in the ranking of search engines. While this is good advice there may well be occasions when one simply has nothing to say or you are so exhausted that anything which you do post will not show off your writing at it’s best. In such circumstances it is best not to post. In such situations have an early night and your writing will be all the better for it on the following day.

In conclusion self-publishing has much to recommend it, however it does require a great deal of time and effort by you the author.


7 thoughts on “The Disadvantages of self publishing

  1. Pat Fitzhugh

    It is easy for authors to immerse themselves in book promotion and leave their writing on the back burner. Nevertheless, a productive balance between promoting and writing is crucial. Different authors confront the challenge in different ways. Automation has worked well for me. After spending 5 minutes creating a post, I will click a button and transmit the post to 15+ key sites, and return to my writing. Learning to use “key sites” effectively, as opposed to “blitzing the world,” is the key to effective automation. In only five minutes and with the click of a button, I can blitz my target audience and fan base without intruding on others.

    Another challenge new authors face is promotional pacing; i.e., promoting the right things at the right times. Every day, I see countless posts like this: “Hey! My name is J.Q. Author, and my first title, “Etc Etc Etc,” is now available! Pick up a copy right now! WOOT WOOT!”


    Release day isn’t the time to introduce yourself and tell everyone to buy your book. Book releases are big for authors, but readers don’t usually buy books simply because an unknown author emerges from the woodwork and tells them to do so. As an author, you must make readers want your book and look forward to its release. Book releases need a running start, or “ramp period,” during which interest and excitement can build. When I ramp a forthcoming title, I create a web site, a Facebook fan page, a Goodreads page, and a dozen other pages for the upcoming title, all at least ONE YEAR before the release date. On these pages, using automation, I’ll post tidbits about the book, its characters, its progress, and the all-important release date. To bring existing fans into the craze, I link the forthcoming title’s promotional pages to my general author sites. Building interest and excitement about upcoming titles, well in advance, provides the running start needed for a title’s initial success. Waiting until release day, and suddenly proclaiming, “Hello, World!” is the mark of an amateur; it garners more embarrassment than sales.

    A blog post “every single day,” for better rankings, is dangerous. Publish only your best work, always, regardless of the time and effort required. To be respected, and taken seriously, writers must give a flawless, stellar performance every time they publish something–even blog posts. If gray moments or brain farts are plaguing your day, don’t inject your less-than-good side into the blogosphere. Quality, ethics, and consistent stellar performances define your credibility as an author. Don’t diminish it by blogging on a bad day.

  2. Pat Fitzhugh

    Here is a list. Please remember that this is only what works for ME, and that different sites and approaches work best for different authors. Also, my list changes periodically. I type a lone post into my blog, which is automatically syndicated to Yahoo, Tumblr, and Facebook. Facebook then transmits the post to Twitter and my Twitter feed, which in turn fuels the other locations. Sometimes, depending on what I need to publicize, I will manually post to certain sites and have them feed others selectively.

    It’s not easy to automate and constantly tweak everything, but I earn my living as a technology engineer, so it comes easier for me (well, sometimes).

    Amazon Author Page
    + 5-10 niche sites that deal specifically with ghost stories and/or Southern culture, literature, or folklore.

  3. EvanzzKurei

    Disadvantages of self publishing:
    Operational and financial burden of Self Publishing ( platform eases a lot of this)
    Access to distributors and retailers is limited. Marketing and promotion is your responsibility.
    Since no third party has vouched for the quality of your content, reviewers and critics can ignore the book.


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