Why I Won’t Self-Publish

I won’t self-publish out of self preservation, but I admire those who are successful at it.

No matter how may times I reread something, I always manage to find something I’ve missed. Even when my smart friends read and edit for me, they also miss stuff. I would be horrified if I self-published and saw something I’d missed. I need a professional editor to save my hide.

But even before a line editor sees my manuscript, I want a story developer.

Orson Scott Card wrote Speaker for the Dead and gave it to Jim Frenkel who said no. The book was not ready. It needed more work. Orson took his advice and did not publish. He put it to one side and worked on something else.

If he had self-published and not received Jim’s advice, we’d not have Ender’s Game, which became the first of the series. Olsen rewrote Speaker for the Dead, which became the second book. Personally, I think it’s brilliantly written and is one of my favorite novels by him.

A good story developer can greatly improve a story. There are those who have complained how their book no longer looks the same after a story developer is through with it, but I wonder just how improve the story really is from the original idea. A good story developer can make a good book become brilliant.

All my novels have greatly improved because of the advice I’ve received from friends, and my original has changed for the better because of them. Still, I’m looking forward to a professional’s advice.

I’m not naive enough to think all professional story developers are perfect. I’m sure there are those who think they know what they are doing, but should be in another line of business. I’m also sure personality plays a roll in two people working together to produce a great story.

I can’t afford to pay for a story developer or a line editor, but a publisher will provide both for free. The trick is to get someone good.

I’ve met Jim Frenkel. I know how good he is. He would be my first chose, but as I’ve said, I can’t afford him. Besides, Jim works for Tor, a large publishing house. And we all know how difficult it is to get into a large publishing house.

I joined the Midwest Independent Publishers Association because I wanted to know who and what was available in my immediate area. I found people who are good at what they do. They take pride in producing the best work possible.

Because it is difficult to get into a large publishing house, many people are self-publishing, which is smart if they do it well. The next best thing is to find a well established small publishing house with a good reputation.

I say, “well established with a good reputation,” because sharks and wantabes are everywhere. I have a friend who went through a small press and got as far as the finished galley before they went bankrupt. Now she’s looking for another publisher.

If you decide to go with a small publisher, do your homework.

However you decide to publish, if your book goes viral, a big house will come knocking on your door. That’s what I’m hoping for.


This blog was inspired by Richard Leonard. We were exchanging thoughts on editing. He is also an author and is presntly woring on a short story on Story Time.