Monday, 15 February 2016

The Self-Publishing Debate - guest post from Kacper Nedza

The pros and cons of self-publishing continue to be hotly debated, and I'm pretty sure that debate will continue for some time to come. It's a complex subject, and also a fascinating one. My one and only experience of self-publishing, with The New Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, has been a positive one, so although I'm keen on continuing to be traditionally published, I'm very well aware of the attractions of the alternative.

I'm also interested in the views and experiences of others. A recent exchange of correspondence with Kacper Nezda, a long-time supporter of this blog, and the person who introduced me to that under-estimated writer Pamela Barrington, prompted me to invite Kacper to outline his own thoughts on this topic. Over to you, Kacper:

"Many thanks to Martin for this opportunity – it’s an honor to be featured here.

I’m not the most patient of people, and I suppose my adventure with self-publishing begins with impatience. In the fall of 2015, I began querying agents with my full-length, 80,000-word crime novel. This was an arduous process, and eventually I got very fed up with waiting to hear back and obsessively checking my email every five minutes for replies from agents. I also knew that even if I did secure an agent, it would likely be years before my novel hit shelves. That didn’t thrill me. I wanted to be doing something tangible with my writing now, hence my decision to write and self-publish a 20,000-word novella.

So I suppose what drew me into self-publishing was the immediacy of it. I uploaded my novella, A Late Verdict, under the name Milo Bell, to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform and it hit the Kindle store internationally within hours.

What’s great about self-publishing is the control, control over every aspect of one’s book: the content, the cover art, the marketing and publicity. The book you put out as a self-publisher is entirely your vision, and you have full control over what happens to it after it is published (except, of course, how it sells – which some might say is the most important part!)

The main drawback, of course, is the cost. Everything is pricey: cover artists, editors, publicity campaigns. If you publish traditionally, the publishing house takes care of all that, but if you self-publish, it’s all coming out of your wallet. Hence, I have a theory that all of the most successful self-published authors are those who started out with a considerable budget to invest in the book – which is not great news for those of us who are strapped for cash.

I’m very much in the midst of figuring out whether traditional or self-publishing is the way to go for my work, and I don’t believe there’s a universal answer for everyone. I’m excited, though, to have my novella out in the world, and I have every intention of continuing my adventure with self-publishing."

That point about cost strikes me as especially interesting. Is that a major concern of other self-published authors? I - and I'm sure Kacper - would be glad to know.


patrick said...


Have been following your blog for a while and appreciate your insights and features and especially your generosity towards other writers and those interested in the writing field.

As a three decade-plus reader of all sorts of fiction, and a Kindle owner/reader of about 7 years, I have seen many to all permutations of publishing, writing, etc. My one comment about the self-publishing vs traditional publishing is that self-publishing doesn't really vet the writer as to whether he/she is a good writer or not. The control that your guest writer speaks about is the essence of the vanity writer: the writer can publish anything he is willing to pay for, regardless of quality. Traditional publishing does cover the costs, but that is after the book has gone through the gauntlet of agent representation, editorial review, and publisher approval; the writer has earned the right for those costs to be covered, in that most people along that chain feel that someone, somewhere will pay to read this person's work. The self-published writer might get none of that, and if he doesn't sell, he might be tempted to blame the obstacles, e.g. no editor, poor cover design, etc, but the ultimate truth could be that what he wrote is just not something someone wants to read. Mark Evanier, a TV and comic book writer for over 40 years, has a blog called News from ME, and he just did a six part series called Rejection, covering many issues that a writer faces if rejected, one of which is the writer's quality. Thanks for listening.

Martin Edwards said...

Patrick, many thanks for your contribution. I will check out the ME blog. I can see that trad publishing does at least offer readers a degree of reassurance in terms of quality control, even if sometimes one is tempted to wonder...

Oliver tidy said...

As a moderately successful self-publisher (a term I often find is being eschewed these days in favour of others such as 'indie' - more respectable - even self-publishing is getting snobby, perhaps) can I chip in here?
I certainly had no significant start-up budget. A professionally produced cover and decent editorial/proofreading input cost a little rather than a lot. I had no money for advertising campaigns. What worked for a CWAP (Crime Writing Author Publisher) like me was writing books readers wanted to read and engaging with readers on social-media. A following can grow from such things. It is important to continue to produce books, to maintain momentum.
I'm very happy being a CWAP. I quickly gave up chasing the traditional publishing deal because of the reasons given by your guest writer above. Would I want to see the name of a big publisher on the spine of one of my books? Show me the litter of puppies you want me to strangle with my bare hands for such an opportunity.
Best wishes.

Martin Edwards said...

Nice comment, Oliver, thanks for your contribution.