Does a self-publisher risk self-delusion?

Does a self-publisher risk self-delusion?
by Angela B. Chrysler

Published on: Nov 18, 2014

With a sweep of my hand, I pointed to the white mammoth in the room and said, “Does a self-publisher risk self-delusion?”  (Oh, yeah. I went there.) This is the forum thread I started on Scribophile.  The results?  Four pages of writers coming together to address this unspoken dread.

Here is the Forum Post.

This is something I’ve been wanting to post for awhile and, until now, have not been able to determine the proper approach that will provoke the answers and no hostility.  I re-emphasize, I am looking for answers to cure my ignorance and not looking to make enemies here.  If I offend anyone, I apologize.  By no means is this my intent.  I only want to know.

I recently read an article written by the author Brent Weeks in Feb 2012.  Here is the excerpt I wish to discuss:


What does a publisher do for me?

Let’s be honest, there’s still a stigma against self-published writers. Why? Because they deserve it. Because most of them are crap. (That’s okay, most of everything is crap.) Most stories published by the Big Six aren’t much better, but at least you know that they’ve gone through two rounds of gatekeepers (agents, and then editors). So even though the average may only be lifted ten percent, by moving the entire bell curve up ten points, you’ve made the likelihood of finding a great story much, much more likely.

End quote”

If you want to read the full article, here it is

His article does not reflect any of my own claims or opinions.  My views are my own and they are expressed very carefully below.

Mr. Week’s article left me with two questions I’ve been wanting to ask since I first learned self-publishing was something many authors today are pursuing.  Currently, I am wanting to traditional publish, but now I’m not so sure.  Hence this forum post.

To those of you who are considering self-publishing or have already, aren’t you worried about:

not being taken seriously?
the quality of your book suffering due to having no copy-editor?

I ask because a couple years ago I downloaded a free book I thought sounded GREAT…until I tried reading it.  The quality of writing was juvenile, the grammar and spelling was nonexistent, the story was slow and uneventful.

When I looked into the author, who I will call “Pat”, I learned that Pat was self-published and had written their own reviews on their own website.  Pat is actually convinced their writing and skill is on par with a New York Times Bestselling author despite never using periods in the book or the blog.  I kid you not.  No periods.  Ever.  Pat uses commas instead.  Pat didn’t beta read and only edited twice.

Now, at the end of the day, yes, I, the reader, don’t have to buy/read Pat’s book.  I am not reviewing it.  I am not recommending it.  I will not disclose Pat’s real name, book, or gender.

Does a self-publisher risk self-delusion?

End of Forum Post.

Due to there being so many Scribophile members who have commented, I am not going to each and everyone one to ask permission to post their responses, although we would all benefit GREATLY from this conversation.  Instead, I will summarize my own conclusions, not theirs, based on what I read.

Publishing, self and traditional, is changing.  It isn’t the same thing it was ten years ago, five years ago, or two years ago when Brent Weeks wrote that article.  In fact he did say then that the business is changing.  Many opinions that came in ranged between “should never do it”, “prepare to work your butt off”, “only do it after you’ve tried to publish traditionally”.  A few comments, my favorite, said that it depends on the genre as some genres have almost no market, and therefore, have almost no market for agents.

So what am I going to do?  What should I do?  What will you do?  At the end of the day, I have concluded this: whatever you decide, prepare to work your a** off.

If you self-publish you are responsible for setting the bar on standards and if you fall short, the whole world will see it and only you are to blame.  This will hurt your credibility more than your sales.  It will offend many a reader.  It will reflect poorly on you.  Raise your standards!  make them high then jump for them!

If you self-publish, you must be willing to market your book like a crazed junky, or sales will be low no matter how good your book is because you are your own marketing team.  The bright side is, no matter how bad the book is (almost), you can have great sales, so long as you market your book like a crazed junky.  Prepare to market your book like a crazed junky.

If you self-publish, be realistic.  There will be no editor to tell you that you have misplaced modifiers or incomplete clauses that end on a preposition.  Get thee to Scribophile!  The sooner the better!  You owe it to your characters!  You owe it to your readers to provide a properly edited book with proper punctuation and grammar.  And if you can’t edit your way out of a paper bag, then you need to find the money or friendships to do it for you.  And if you feel it doesn’t matter, well…I’ll reserve that opinion.

If you self-publish, don’t publish too soon!  This is something I have read over and over about self-publishing.  How soon is too soon?  Go back and read what I said about standards because that is what we’re really addressing here.  Shelve your book for one year, then write book two.  At the end of that year, pick up book one and re-write it.  Because you will, if you don’t, then its ready.  Maybe.

If you self-publish, edit more than twice.  Edit more than five times.  Edit more than ten times.  Edit.  Edit.  Edit.  Beta read then edit some more.  Hire a copy-editor because you need to.  Master grammar.  Master the written word.  Mastery comes with edit.  Scribophile and Daily Grammar.  I can not say it enough.

Here is my editing list…and it still isn’t done.

8 – Edit for characterization

9 – Edit for historical consistency

10 – Edit for grammar, spelling, punctuation,

11 – Edit for foreign word spelling and definition consistency

12 – Begin outlining next book

13 – Edit current project for foreshadowing in following books.

14 – Edit for clarity, edit for flow, edit for prose

15 – Insert more scenes were needed to fill out or flesh out characters and setting

16 – Edit for Pacing, adding and deleting scenes where needed

17 – Edit for pacing, prolonging and shortening scenes where needed.

18 – Hand to beta readers and review critiques

19 – Read through and correct then rinse and repeat steps 18 and 19 until no more errors are located.

20 – Post on

and weigh the feedback received from members.

21 – Read through and correct then rinse and repeat steps 18 and 19 until no more errors are located.

22 – Post on

and weigh the feedback received from members and IF only minor errors come back, then…THEN…you are ready.  In my opinion of course 🙂

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