Should I Self-Publish My Next Book?

You all know about my e-book novella, the Salvation of Billy Wayne Carter, which you can buy here. I have another finished novel titled, Zen, Mississippi, which I’ve been trying to get published for about the past year. Every agent that reads it basically says, “I like the writing. You’re a really good writer. I can’t sell this. But definitely send me your next book.”

Well, if they couldn’t sell it then, it seems damn unlikely that anyone could sell it now with the entire mainstream publishing industry essentially facing Armageddon. It was already a difficult business, but this week alone, there were layoffs at Houghton Miffllin and Simon & Schuster, a major shakeup at Random House, and a payment freeze at Penguin. There were also layoffs at Scholastic and Borders recently. So if everything is going to shit anyway, why not take some control and just publish the damn thing myself?


Generally, self-publishing is looked down upon by the ivory tower elites who hold the reigns of power in that business. It’s harder to get reviews. It’s harder to get distribution. And there’s a general stigma that if you are publishing something yourself, you’ve already failed at the more traditional route. I’m not quite willing to concede failure, but it seems like it might be a while before the industry straightens itself out enough to take what I do seriously. By then, I’ll have another book ready for them. I really want to do something with this book RIGHT NOW. Or soon at least. I’m getting impatient, and I’m addicted to instant gratification (among other things).

Moreover, the hurdles of reviews and distribution are much more easily overcome than they used to be with the rise of Print-on-Demand publishing, Amazon, and other resources available on the web. And even if you get a book deal with a major house, there’s a good chance that you will still have to do most of your own publicity. So I don’t know. Anybody have any advice for me?


2 thoughts on “Should I Self-Publish My Next Book?

  1. It is always hard to know what to do with a book you have lovingly worked on and which agents don’t want. I personally do not see anything wrong with self-publishing. You get to have total control over the product (and that includes the art-work on the book) and you stand to make more money in the long run. However, I personally would shop it around to small presses first before doing the self-publishing thing, unless you have a few K to spare and don’t mind fronting the money:)

    Good luck! Best, Cynthia.

  2. Wow, I think that’s the fastest comment I ever received. Thanks for your thoughts. POD publishers generally don’t require much, if any, investment up front, but if I went with a regular print run, it could be expensive. These are all things to consider. Also, even considering self-publication is contrary to things I’ve written on the web elsewhere (like here), so I feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

    Another sign of these troubled times.

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