To self publish or not self publish? That is the question

It’s been said that self publishing is a lot like masturbation. You go it alone because you couldn’t get anyone else to do it for you. I would go further into this analogy, but I’m afraid it would degenerate into a series of double-entendres that would make even Sid James blush. No, I would actually like to propose that in fact self publishing is to books what online dating is to couples.




Traditional way: You try and attract an agent/publisher with your best cover letters, taking the knock-backs, coming back time and time again until you get lucky.

All in the attempt to eventually get your novel out to readers.


Alternative way: You do it yourself and self publish.
All in the attempt to eventually get your novel out to readers.


Traditional way: You try and attract a girl/boy with your best chat-up lines, taking the knock-backs, coming back time and time again until you get lucky.
All in the attempt to eventually get a partner.

Alternative way: You do online dating.
All in the attempt to eventually get a partner.


A short while ago, both alternative ways were considered for losers – people who weren’t good enough to do it the proper way. Desperate measures. But now, not only are they acceptable but they are looking increasingly likely that for many people they are becoming the preferred method to get what you want. People are realising that they give you control, power, flexibility and to target your needs.

Can the alternative methods bring you a future Miss World/best seller?
Will they just mean a lot of extra work with no end result?

I’m sure agents are awesome and will do more things to help you get a better book out to more people than you can ever achieve on your own. Every agent gets hundreds of submissions a week, and this route will always be popular and rightly so. But maybe it’s not right for some. If you want to be more in control of your destiny or get your book out quicker, then self publishing could be the way to go.

There’s no right answer – all you can do is assess your own situation, try them out and see where they get you. As long as you put the effort in to the project in whichever method you choose, you may just succeed either way.


Epic fail
“What, you mean the book that failed?”
A close friend of mine recently joked that my book had been a failure. Of course, as this friend is an Arsenal fan, then naturally he must be an expert in failure (according to Jose Mourinho). But as much as my hackles went up at the F word, on one hand, he was right. None of the seven literary agents I’d sent it to replied to say that they were interested. Some of them have never replied. It was going nowhere. All my big plans for publication were still far, far away.

But something is only a failure when it finally stops trying.

26 Miles to the Moon is not a failure…it just hasn’t succeeded yet.

(and at the time of writing Arsenal still have the FA Cup!)

The agent route was the one I was aiming at, as I wanted to do it properly. I was dreaming of that book deal, seeing it on the shelves of Waterstones, book signings – the whole caboodle. Why compromise? I believe in my novel, my story, so I should just keep going, right?
However, I’m a realist. The chances seem to be so slim of a general fiction book being picked up that it simply might not be worth it. I could keep trying and maybe find the right home for it, but how long would that take? A competition to win a trip into space is a great idea, but reality is catching up. If I time it right, I hit a good wave of space tourism reality and all the marketing opportunities that come with it. Too late, and it’ll look like I’ve pinched the ideas, risk competing novels and end up looking like it’s as unique as an EastEnders plot line.

So it is with this in mind that I’m now looking at self publishing. I can get it out sooner and catch that wave, design my own cover, set my own prices, be in control of my destiny. I still need to be patient and get out a quality product, but it will be on my terms. I’m going to look at eBooks – Amazon KDP in particular – and see what opportunities lay there.



ABNA2It’s also the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards 2014. Last year, what was really an early draft made it right through to the quarter finals – the top 100 out of 2000 in the General Fiction category. Not bad, and the manuscript is much better this time out so I have high hopes. However, there’s also a huge amount of luck needed – you need it to get to the right competition reader who’ll like your work. Catch someone who simply doesn’t fancy the premise and you’re knocked out quicker than a violinist at the Winter Olympics. The prize is a publishing package, so well worth entering for zero cost and risk. The competition takes place over the next few months, so I’ll let you know how I do – I’ve got past the first (pitch) round already.

Maybe I’m biased with the online dating analogy, given that I got everything I wanted almost immediately (see the end result here) but I’m going to give self publishing a go. Let’s get my novel out there, promote the heck out of it, get it to where it needs to be: in the hands of readers, not tucked away on a server somewhere in the cloud.


26 Miles to the Moon: Adventurous type with GSH, looking for like-minded readers for a good time..

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