Are You Really an Author if You’re Self-Publishing Your Book?

There is quite a bit of stigma surrounding an author when it comes to self-publishing a book. I’ve seen many people claim that unless your novel is produced by a publishing house, then you’re not a real author. But how much of that is true?

Seriously ask yourself, what can a publishing house do that you can’t do today? Thanks to the myriad of services available on the Internet, you can do or manage just about anything a publishing house can provide.

In reality, the only thing traditional publishing offers is convenience with a logo. And even then, how convenient is it really?

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The Plight of a Self-Publishing Author

In some instances, it seems some people think that self-published books are of lower quality. I’m not really sure how these people tend to believe that nonsense, but I see it all the time on Twitter.

Sure, there are a few authors out there who really should have spent more time polishing up the story. But for the most part, I bet you’d be hard-pressed to tell who was self-published and who wasn’t.

In fact, that would make a very interesting case study.

In any case, serious self-published authors aren’t just throwing caution to the wind and putting out poorly written material. I’d go so far as to say their stress levels are much greater overall.

Personally, I have quite a bit of respect for those who are successful at self-publishing simply because of what that it entails.

Doing Nearly All the Work Themselves

There are technically two types of self-publishing. There is the kind where you invest thousands of dollars for a company to help you along in the process, like the company that ripped off my sister.

Then you have the ones such as myself who published the entire book for free from start to finish on their own. This means all of the editing, cover art, marketing…everything. Though, I did have a friend help me polish up the writing.

The point is that true self-publishing means that you’re doing the entire thing yourself. If you want to do a book signing, you have to set it up. Want your book in the local library? You’re contacting the branch.

There is a great deal of work placed squarely on your shoulders, especially if you plan on making your book a success.

Side note: poor marketing is why most books fail, not because of how it was written. No one will buy it if no one knows it even exists.

Sometimes a Heavy Monetary Investment

Depending on how much of the work you plan on doing yourself, a self-published author can spend thousands of dollars getting the book ready. Seriously, there are some editors that you can hire for $4,000 on top of the cover art designer, who’ll charge you another $4,000.

Of course, these numbers are simply based on some of the high-end services I’ve seen since I started publishing my own books.

When I wrote and published A Freelancer’s Tale, I was able to do it all without spending a single dime. Mostly because I wanted to see if it can be done. In this case, I was relatively lucky as the cover art was created with a simple photograph and the free version of Canva.

Now, you can find some affordable help on the Internet. But then you have to sift through them all to find someone who’ll offer a quality service.

This aspect alone is enough to dial the stress level up to 11. And if you can’t find affordable alternatives, your book is sitting on your computer indefinitely until you can save up enough to pay for those services.

Disrespected By Many

Perhaps one of the biggest issues I have with some people on social media is how they treat a self-publishing author. In one instance, the guy went to great lengths to belittle the author, even though the author was making about 1,000 book sales per month.

Just because there isn’t a publishing house associated with the book, the Twitter twit assumed it was a poor novel. But a thousand sales per month with great reviews would say otherwise.

I just can’t wrap my mind around why anyone would assume that a self-published novel would be considered “junk.” As long as the story is well-written and there is a good marketing campaign in place, it doesn’t matter.

Especially today when it’s easier to get your story in front of so many readers.

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Should an Author Use Traditional or Self-Publishing?

Now, I’m not saying that self-publishing is better than going the traditional route. In the end, it’s all relative to personal preference. However, I do believe the lines get blurred from a realistic standpoint.

As I said earlier, what can a traditional publishing house do for you that you can’t do yourself?

In fact, I bet Stephen King would sell just as many books if he self-published. Why? Because people are identifying with the author’s name.

What Really Matters When Publishing a Book

When it comes to publishing a book, there is really only one thing that truly matters: the reader. If your target audience loves the tale and promotes your book through word-of-mouth, then that’s the best feeling in the world.

Still, you need to keep things in perspective.

You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. You’re going to have haters for nothing more than how you spelled the main character’s name. But the ones who love your book are more likely to buy the next.

They are the ones you need to please.

Frustrations of Being Rejected

My Twitter feed is constantly full of authors who have posted rejections from agents and publishers. While I have no doubt that some of them are warranted, what about the ones that have good storylines?

Is the agent part of your target audience? Does the publisher really know the people who want to read your book? These are frustrating elements that can cause a lot of potentially good authors to throw in the towel.

It’s also something that absolutely drives me nuts. These gatekeepers have promoted a practice that ensures that a self-published author is disrespected.

As long as you like the story, do you really care what publishing house sponsors the book?

Does a Logo on the Book Really Matter?

When was the last time you looked at a book and decided not to buy it because of the publisher’s logo? To be honest, I can’t even tell you what the logo looks like on my Mom’s book, Defiant Souls.

I don’t even know what publisher put out my recent copy of Stephen King’s, “The Stand.”

Sure, I bet there are probably a handful of people that only read books from a specific publishing house. It’s much like how people will judge a movie based on the studio.

But then you’ll come across an indie film that becomes a cult classic or that amasses a major following because of the story alone.

So, if you’re one of those people who think self-publishing is bad for an author because there is a lack of publisher prestige, ask yourself what the logo looks like on your favorite book.

Or, what is the ratio of a certain publishing house to another of all the books you own? If you have to get up and look, you’re already proving my point.

Years Before Publishing?

One of the authors I follow finally had her book accepted by the publisher. The expected date it hits the shelf is sometime in 2024!

It takes a year and a half before people can read your story? Seriously?

That’s among the best parts of being an author using self-publishing platforms. You can put it out when YOU want. Especially since the advent of print-on-demand services and eBook readers.

Today, all it takes is an ePub or PDF file format for most services like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many more. In the grand scheme of things, a lot can happen in a year and a half.

So, how convenient is a publishing house in this instance? I guess if they take care of all the legwork, it’s OK. But waiting so long for your book to be appreciated by an audience is a bit ridiculous, in my opinion.

My Experience as a Self-Publishing Author

A Freelancer’s Tale hasn’t garnered a lot of sales. But most of that is because it’s an exceptionally niche book. Unless you care about who I am or how I got started as a freelancer while facing depression, it’s not for you.

Not to mention I haven’t put a lot of effort into marketing the book, in the first place.

The absolute purpose of the book was to help me understand how self-publishing works and the process behind getting something live on Amazon’s KDP platform. In this case, the book served its purpose and provided me with a lot of insights.

However, I can tell you that getting it ready to put up on Amazon was a very rigorous and stressful process.

The editing process alone was something else, as I constantly questioned every sentence while re-reading it numerous times. It wasn’t something I just pulled out of my ass and uploaded.

Most people who are interested in becoming a self-publishing author put a great deal of work and effort to make sure it’s the best book they can deliver. We’ll drive ourselves nuts over every minute detail.

But when it’s finally published, and those first five-star reviews start coming in, the pride and accomplishment you feel is nothing short of astounding. And yes, a few people who have commented on my book brought tears to my eyes.

You can bet that when I’m ready to publish Kingmaker, I’m going all-in on the marketing.

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Yes, Self-Publishing Does Make You an Author

When completely broken down, an author is one who can captivate an audience with a good story. It doesn’t matter if you are self-published or have a brand logo on your book, it all comes down to whether people enjoy reading your work.

Do I consider myself an author? Absolutely. Am I on the same level as Stephen King? Hell no. For one thing, I am relatively new and still finding my groove. Not to mention we have completely different audiences.

That’s the key element here…the audience.

Sure, A Freelancer’s Tale has only sold a handful of copies. But those who have read the book enjoyed it. And for me, that’s all that really matters.

So, when the naysayers and trolls try to put you down because you want to self-publish your book, remember that it doesn’t matter what they think. Success comes down to you and the reader.

With a good marketing strategy and a well-written book, your audience can take you further than those trolls could ever imagine.

What Kind of Author Are You?

I guess the point of all this is that just because an author is self-publishing his or her book, it doesn’t mean it’s of poor quality. There are a number of reasons why people will go this route, and you shouldn’t judge just because a house logo isn’t on the cover.

In reality, the best way to publish your book is whatever works for your situation and needs. Not everyone has the bankroll to hire professional services, and not everyone wants to worry about pleasing an agent who may not even like the genre of the book.

It all depends on what you find most valuable for getting your tale out to your audience.

What’s your preferred method of getting your story in front of more readers?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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