Is ePublishing a Cop-Out?

“I’m thinking about self-publishing my book as an eBook, what do you think?” I asked my friend Morgan about a year ago.

“That depends” Morgan – who is a talented writer herself – responded. “How confident are you in the writing and the story? If you think it’s good enough to pitch to a publisher then I would do that, if not ePublishing might be the way to go.”

That stung, but I knew she was speaking with the voice of popular opinion. Self-publishing was seen as the easy way out for lazy writers who didn’t want to put the time in to make their books good enough for “real publishers.”

“Real writers” needed to have tough skin and patience, I was told. After all, even Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the British title) was rejected by 12 publishers before it was finally accepted. So, I soldiered on and committed myself to:

The Waiting Game

I had submitted my book to three literary agencies at that point, none of which had worked out, and I was rapidly becoming frustrated with the whole system.

Agents, for those of you who don’t know, have a fairly standard – if not completely uniform – set of rules that they want you to follow. The most painful of these is a “no simultaneous submissions” policy.

No simultaneous submissions means you can only submit you work to one agent at a time – a rule made all the more painful by the 6-8 weeks most agents need to consider you work. Even that would be fine if you were guaranteed to hear back from them in 6-8 weeks, however, 12-15 weeks was closer to my experience.

One of the problems with having to wait so long between submissions was that it all but destroyed my momentum. Should I work on the second book in the series? If I couldn’t find a publisher for the first book, wouldn’t that just be a waste of time? Should I start a new project and abandon the original world I had spent three years creating? Should I re-write the first book, since I was undeniably a better writer than when I started it? I was stuck.

The Appeal of ePublishing

The benefit of being able to release books on my own schedule was undeniable. It would free me from my present limbo, I thought. It would allow me to be a writer.

But still, that nagging doubt remained: would ePublishing be an admission of defeat? a tacit acknowledgement that I wasn’t good enough to be a “real writer”?

I began to research ePublishing.

Articles like “How Amazon Saved My Life,” by Jessica Park, and many of the articles from Joe Konrath’s blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, gave me hope. Both were former traditionally published authors who had become self-publishing authors by choice rather than necessity or impatience.

They showed that attitudes toward self-publishing were beginning to change.

Confidence and Quality

Konrath (as well as other self-publishing bloggers) emphasizes the need for quality work. In his article “Am I Good Enough to Epublish” Konrath says, “If you’ve never even tried to get an agent or publish it traditionally, think twice, then think again, before epublishing. It’s tempting to get the instant gratification, but there is probably a reason you couldn’t find an agent, and that reason is probably: the work isn’t good enough yet.”

This seemed like a catch-22 to me: if your book isn’t good enough to traditionally publish than you shouldn’t ePublish either, yet, one of the main reasons authors turn to ePublishing is to by-pass the gate keeping agents and publishing houses…

Park provides a possible solution to this head-scratcher: confidence. Park describes her experience shopping around her YA book Flat-Out Love, a book she was immensely proud of and yet couldn’t find a home with traditional publishers.

After questioning her ability as a storyteller and a writer, Park had an epiphany. She says, “And then one day I got yet another rejection letter and instead of blaming myself and my clear lack of creativity, I got angry. Really, really furious. It clicked for me that I was not the idiot here. Publishing houses were.”

According to the article, Flat-Out Love went on to sell over 45,000 Kindle copies in a single month and consistently sells multiple thousands per month.

Finding Confidence

Although I had never possessed the righteous anger that Park describes, shortly after reading her article I was eating dinner at my uncle Jonah’s house and one of my fellow dinner guests asked, “Do you like your book?”

I was floored. People had asked things like, “is it good?” to which my natural modesty forced me to reply “it’s OK,” but no one had ever asked “do YOU like your book.”

The answer, I found, was YES!

I really like my book and that gives me the audacity to think it’s good enough to self-publish. Convinced that my work had value, the question of whether ePublishing was giving up completely changed.

I had already validated myself as an author, so the only remaining question was whether or not I could make enough money to support myself as a self-publishing eBook author. After even more painstaking research (some of which will undoubtedly be shared in future blog posts) that answer to that too was: yes.

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  1. You may have already launched into a self-pub effort, sorry I haven’t read your more recent posts. But I wanted to let you know that I did a few years ago and am happy I did.

    If you are looking for inspiration – head over to Amazon and look up Heather Wardell, Lindsay Buroker, and Terri Reid. They’ve all done very well.

    Here are some of the reasons why I like self-publishing –

    I think you should go for it. Good luck!



  1. […] had begun to symbolize creative freedom, release from the endless waiting game described in “Is ePublishing a Cop-Out“. As the title of that article indicates, my feelings were still complicated, but I was much […]

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