Self-publish or Commercial Publisher?

Your book is finished. It’s an action/adventure tale of spies and counter spies. Your critique group has given you some good, tough comments and you’ve incorporated their suggestions. What happens next? Do you go right to a self-published book or try first to get a commercial publisher?

The first thing you should do is hire an editor, a good editor who will do more for you than just fix your grammar. How about the logic of your story? Is it consistent? Are there parts missing and/or parts left out? One of the worst critiques of self-published books is that they need editing.

How much should you pay for such an editor? I would (and do) budget $1000.

Many people recommend that you get beta readers to read your book. You send them a free copy and ask them to review your book. Sites like Indies Unlimited ( can help you find beta readers.

Then and only then should you decide whether to go to a commercial publisher or self-publish your book. You can get your book self-published without beta readers and editors and so forth. But have some respect for your own work. Do you want people to associate your name with junk novels and illogical articles?

I recommend to my writing students that they first try the commercial publishers, but on a very limited basis (e.g. 12 contacts) and a definite time frame(three months?). If there’s been no success, then move on to self-published.

Look to Indies Unlimited to help you. Get the text in the best shape you can and then decide on going with Smashwords or with Amazon. At least for the beginning of my sales, I’ve gone with Amazon’s KDP select. This program allows you to cut your price for specials. The hardest thing about self-published books is to realize that YOU are the only advertiser. No one but you is going to promote your books. Personally, I would rather write 2 books than promote 1, but I have to do it. Like 80 % author, 20% sales person.

What do you think? What would be your percentages? Some say 50-50, other say 90% writer and 10% sales, others the reverse. What’s your call?


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