HomeDiscussion GroupsSelf-Pub UDoes Self-publishing Harm Your Chances of Getting a Publishing Contract?

5 replies and 4 participants in topic. Last update: 7 months ago.

This question comes up often in my writing workshops. What’s the current wisdom? I have one student who has written seven novels and wants to find a publisher. He says he doesn’t want to go down the self-publishing road because he thinks it will harm his chances. What should I tell him?

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Started by: Carole P. Roman  • 

Harm his chances at what? It’s not so easy to get a publisher- I think that’s why the indie trend took off. Most publishers won’t look at unsolicited manuscripts- you need an agent. It’s hard to get an agent.
Many traditional authors are now hybrid- once they have a solid foundation of fans established by traditional publishers it’s easier to market their books. I met a well-known romance author who was publishing half her work by herself and the other half through a publisher.
MY son published sixteen books under two different pen names and was contacted by an agent. He was signed with not only by a literary agent but a film agent and a high powered attorney. They insist he writes under his real name- He’s been published twice now by a small press.
I published over fifty children’s books and was contacted by a publisher to write a book for a fee (no royalties), as well. It was more than I make on a single indie book of mine in three years. None of those opportunities would have come to us without writing as indies first.

Profile photo of Sara Tucker
Started by: Sara Tucker  • 

Thanks, Carole. I’m in total agreement with you, but I didn’t have any concrete examples to use as reference, so I appreciate your response. I’ll pass it along to my students.

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Started by: Carole P. Roman  • 

I’d love to know their thoughts.

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Started by: PublishDrive  • 

Full disclosure: For 16 years I ran the advertising/promotions/marketing teams as an Executive Director of Marketing for a top-5 publishing house and now, since June 2018, I oversee the marketing at self-publishing innovator, PublishDrive. The fact is traditional publishers are unable to publish even a fraction of the great writing that comes across their desks. The chances of any writer getting a publishing deal has always been very slim. It is estimated that 600,000 – 1,000,000 books are being published annually, and most of those are self-published. There are many stories out there, and I have witnessed this personally, of writers being picked up by traditional publishers after being “discovered” via their self-published works. Read-up on Wattpad for more stories like this. Alternately, there are also many stories of traditionally published authors opting OUT of publishing deals because they wanted more control over the entire process and they wanted to keep more of their royalties. Self-publishing is not easy, but it’s rewarding, peopled by a very close knit community, and can sometimes lead to traditional publishing deals. Check out these folks, ALLi, for a ton of information about this world. Hope this helps!

Profile photo of Theresa M Moore
Started by: Theresa M Moore  • 

Actually, self-publishing is ridiculously easy. You provide your publishing service with the appropriate PDFs and voila. I use Ingram Spark to publish my books, and the cost to publish is however many pages in whatever size. If you provide a wholesale discount for booksellers there is a chance to be seen in bookstores. Right now my books are mostly available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers. It’s stocking shelves which is the sticking point. Unless you can persuade your local store to stock your books, you don’t have any chance to have them order to stock. Most bookstores are small and cannot stock all the books which are available, and they would rather have people order online or arrange an order through them.

Without self-publishing, however, my books would never have been seen anywhere. I have tried agents, and I have tried submitting to trad publishers directly. None appeared to be interested. The fact is that they won’t try out a newcomer unless they have some proof that the book is marketable. This means sales $$. So while a book has sold up to 100 copies it is still not viable as a book to them. You need to sell thousands of copies before they will offer you a contract. In that case, why work with a middle man? As long as you obey the rules of publishing you can do it yourself. I have written and published 22 books, 5 of which are out of print. I have sold some of each but I feel certain that as long as they are out there it’s a better bet that I will sell more.

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