Ask Daphne! About Self-Publishing

Good morning, readers! Hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend, enjoyed some fireworks, and got in some relaxation and/or reading. Rexroth and I certainly did, along with some great time spent with friends. But on to business! Handmade shoes for J.P., who writes:

What do you think about Self-Publishing venues like Createspace.com (Amazon’s Self-Publishing branch)? Do you think they would hurt the chances for a prospective agent for a writer or help?

Well, J.P. I don’t know Createspace personally, but I know other self-publishing venues like Xlibris pretty well, and I will tell you my impression of them — they’re a fallback. Can’t get an agent or a publishing deal for the book you’re certain is a bestseller? Self-publish it, and you can prove all those naysayers WRONG!
Except the thing is, a vast percentage of the books that are self-published never do end up proving anyone wrong. They sell a few copies to friends or family members, and take up space on your bookshelves with amateur-looking covers and design that will never truly hold a candle to a book published by a mainstream publisher.
But say you went the self-published route for some other reason other than as a last resort, and now you’re submitted your book in its self-published form to agents and editors. Does it do you any good?
Again, no. It doesn’t count as a publishing credit, because there’s no editorial process involved in being self-published — all it takes is money. And most agents don’t want to receive a bound book to consider — we want your first 5 chapters, or fifty pages, and if you send them to me as a book, I will tell you in all honesty that it will go to the very very bottom of my reading pile.
So, JP, there you are. If this publishing thing is just to get your words out there to a small group, and you’re so sure they’re perfect you can’t imagine anyone could improve them, and you have the money to burn — sure, go ahead and self-publish. But if you have greater aspirations for success as a writer, and know that you have a long road to travel, keep submitting your work the traditional way. And good luck.

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