Monday, February 15, 2010

Self Publishing

Hi all, I'm Claire Robyns and will be doing the odd post now and then. So, I'm just going to jump in with the topic on my mind today: Self publishing. I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores of self publishing. Most aspiring authors have probably looked at this, considered the ups and downs, and are well aware of what the realistic expectations of self publishing are.

This is something I've flirted with for some time, and recently jumped in and self published my contemporary romance Love Lost and Found in aid of breast cancer fundraising. But some interesting facts turned up while I was researching and wanted to share...

Amazon Kindle has a self publishing platform that is completely painless to use and FREE. Yes, you're probably not going to make any money from self publishing unless you've got a very clever and probably time consuming marketing plan in place, so chances are you don't want to cough up the thousands that most packages are asking. Of course, Amazon gets their bucks when you actually sell - you only get 35% of the list price, they take the rest. But the important thing here is that you can play around and take some chances, because it's not going to cost you anything up front. All you need is your cover image and your manuscript in MS Word, and you're good to go.

This is something I read about on a couple of blogs, but haven't actually seen it done and don't know of any authors. Yet. But it seems that some midlist authors might start using self publishing for genres they'd like to test the waters in and where their publishers don't appear to want to back them. This sounds like an excellent opportunity for midlist authors, and also for us as readers to have something different available from our favourite midlist authors. These would be authors who already have a respectable following, and want to break out in another area. eg a romance author might want to try hard SCI FI. This has the potential to open the door to more readers, and also to 'show' your publisher that you'd be a success in that genre so they'd consider contracting you in that area

And lastly, talking to various people, I got the distinct impression that the whole taboo of self publishing thing is mainly limited to writers and other people immersed in various aspects of the publishing/writing world. The average reader out there does not automatically shut down at the mention of self publishing. Maybe because they're not as clued in as to how much editing is required to produce a polished book, are not as aware of the seeding out process of the publishing streams... who knows? On the other hand, though, I also got the distinct impression that many of these readers have their fav authors and would not easily give a new author a chance - this is more of an issue than whether you've self-published, e-published or whether you're traditionally published. So marketing and getting your name out there, pulling in reviews and recommendations are critical, and you have to work a lot harder at this if you don't have a traditional publisher behind you.

Any comments or thoughts? Please share



  1. Hi Claire! Fabulous post on a topic most authors struggle with ... to self publish or to hold on to the bitter end until you find the one traditional publisher who's willing to take a risk?

    I also wonder whether the reading public actually gives a hoot who publishes the book and if it's not just the authors out there who tend to be more critical of anyone taking that route. Which begs the question why when indeed it is far more hard work to get your work marketed when you have to do it yourself!

    Thanks for a thought provoking post!

  2. Claire, as Amanda said this is a thought provoking post. I do agree that a lot of the negative imagery around self-published books may be linked to a kind of unofficial "writing hierarchy", one with self-published books at the bottom of the ladder. However, I also believe that we're going to see that perception change as traditional publishing gets more difficult to break into and as technology opens new vistas for writers.

    I've never wondered whether readers care a hoot about who publishers the book, as long as it's enjoyable.

    Self-publishing is a concept I've been struggling with myself. While I'm taking a break from writing due to other commitments, you've convinced me to Kindle publish 3 romances I have lying in my drawer. 2 of them went through several revisions with a Hqn M&B editor in London; a reason given for the rejections was setting All my romances are set in South Africa. I've got nothing to lose, so as soon as I find a gap I'm definitely going to publish them on Kindle. :)

    Judy Croome (writing as Ann Victor)

  3. PS Claire, could you please post the link to the Kindle self-publishing programme here?


  4. Hi Judy, the link is (known as their Digital Text Platform) and you can use your normal amazon login details or you can create a new account.
    Good luck, can't wait to see some of your amazing romances published. I'll definitely be buying a couple!

  5. Thanks, Claire. Talking about amazing romances, even though the Kindle reading device hasn't yet reached the shores of South Africa, I downloaded their "Kindle-for-PC" FREE software (a very easy process), and I bought a copy of your "Love Lost & Found". I loved it, and I've posted a review of it. And I feel good 'cause the profits go to Breast Cancer:)

  6. Hi All,

    Claire: thanks for the interesting blog-post! I agree that most writers struggle with the idea, however, there comes a point where one has to say: "why not? What have I got to lose?" There are several self-pubbed books that have been snapped up by traditional publishing houses and ended up on best-seller lists, so it's now much less of a "no-no" than in the past. And having read Claire's "Love Lost and Found", I can honestly say that it compares favourably with many of the traditionally pubbed books I've read.

    Judy: I'm glad you're going to self-pub your romances - way to go!! Your stories also compare favourably to many traditionally pubbed books.

    Happy writing everyone!

  7. Claire, thanks so much for your post. I really like that idea of self-publishing to benefit a charitable organisation. What a great way for writers to give back to the community and make a difference!