Self-Published is Not Synonymous with Shitty

People often ask me what got me started in self-publishing, or what it’s like to be a writer in general. I’ve decided to start a series describing my journey through self-publishing, dispelling myths from realities, and also featuring occasional guest blogs from other authors (these posts will be labeled with the tag “Indie Author Life”).

To kick-start this series, I’m excited to feature my friend and fellow indie author Kaitlyn Oruska. Kaitlyn is the author of the Haven series, which chronicles the life and experiences of a teenage mother. She is currently working on a new novel, Wishing Well, set to release August 25th, which I have had the privilege of beta-reading and cannot recommend enough. Find her website here.

Self-Publishing is Not Synonymous with Shitty


“I don’t typically read self-published books,” a commenter on a blog post remarked. “It seems too risky.”

I’m a live-and-let-live kind of person. I’m rarely opinionated unless it hits on a topic I hold dear to my heart. Five books, one novella and a million ideas in, there are few things closer to my heart than writing.

Any author/writer/storyteller will tell you the same – I didn’t choose writing. It chose me. Just like musicians find themselves drawn to creating music and artists find themselves drawn to painting or sculpting or what-have-you, writers find themselves drawn to words and stories.

It’s no surprise that books are magical. You open them, read a few words, and suddenly you’re sucked into a new world where you’re a new person with new friends and a new family, doing things you never believed possible. Perhaps you like romance, or sci-fi, or maybe realistic fiction that mirrors life. Whatever you’re into, the result is the same. Reading takes you to a previously undiscovered world and teaches you things you might not learn in the real one.

So when I stumble across something that dismisses self-publishing as being less than (sometimes going as far as to refer to it as a genre), it’s difficult not to be offended. There are so many misconceptions, and as a proud indie, I feel it’s my duty to clear them up to the best of my ability.

Authors who self-publish aren’t good enough for traditional publishing.

This is one I see a lot.There seem to be a lot of potential readers who believe self-publishing is always the last resort, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I know of plenty who chose this route for their own personal reasons.

If this logic was correct, where would that leave authors like Stephen King and Suzanne Collins? Both were rejected plenty of times before being picked up.

Books by self-published authors are poor quality.

Most of the books I’ve fallen in love with these past two years were, in fact, self-published. The way in which a book is published has nothing to do with the quality of the story itself. If you read one self-published book and found yourself unimpressed, please don’t punish the community or even the author. There isn’t one book in this world that works for everyone.

Self-published authors are in it for the money.

This is something that comes with anything on the newer side. Some see success stories assume everyone who does something similar is in it for the money and potential fame.

If this is true, I’m doing something terribly wrong.

It takes a lot to write a book. It’s rewarding, yes, but it’s also stressful, occasionally devastating, and always tiring. And when you’re done, there’s no guarantee anyone is going to love your story. It’s a huge leap of faith to put your book out there, and the people who are in it for the money aren’t going to last long.

I grew up loving books, and I was always told don’t judge a book by its cover. I still stand by that, but let’s take it a step further.

If you see a book that catches your eye, give it a chance. Don’t worry about where it came from, how it came to be, who wrote it, etc. Choose your books because there’s something about them that seems interesting, that holds a promise for an adventure you’re never going to forget.

Choose your books for their characters, their plots, and writing style. Don’t judge them by their method of publication.

In short, self-published is not synonymous for shitty in the same way traditionally published isn’t synonymous for best book you’ll ever read. Self-publishing hasn’t taken anything away from the reading community – it’s added thousands more books to choose from.


8 thoughts on “Self-Published is Not Synonymous with Shitty

  1. Pingback: Mistakes of self-publishing: Cutting corners | Sarahbeth Caplin | Author & Christian Feminist Thinker

  2. I hope you consider so called vanity publishers as self-publishers too. I know they have a bad reputation and in some instances well deserved but if you find a vanity publisher that offers everything you want, why not consider it?
    I chose that route and I am not disappointed. I know now that the royalties from say e-publishing with Amazon would be greater, but like everyone in the business should realize, you’re really not in it to get rich, especially overnight.
    I was completely happy with the path I chose. Cost wise and feature wise so no real regrets for me.
    I am still considering Amazon for the next book and possibly novellas but for a newbie they did everything I could hope for and I was thoroughly pleased with the outcome.


    • Hi Arlene,

      The answer to your question is a bit more complicated than the amount of royalties (although some vanity publishers have been known to withhold them until you either peak a certain amount, or flat-out lie to authors and you never see a dime).

      “Vanity publishers” often charge an absurd amount for services you can do yourself, with a little education. I had no idea what I was doing when I started publishing, but one of the first wise choices I made was networking with other indie authors, who can be found in Facebook groups, on Twitter, and here on WordPress. It was through these authors that I found my editor, formatter, and cover designer, and at very good prices. All of this cost way less than what a vanity publisher charges, which can add up to several hundred or even thousands of dollars.

      The exception would be if you are breaking even what you spent and earning it back in sales. Unfortunately that’s not the outcome for most new authors, especially those who are self-published. It takes time to earn steady sales, so the payoff is not immediate and in fact can be more stressful if you end up with more debt than royalties.

      The thought of doing it all yourself is daunting, and trust me, I am one of the least internet-savvy people you will ever meet, but if I could figure some of this out (and I still have not figured it all out), anyone can. All it takes is dedication and research. But if cost is not an issue for you, if you got to make all the decisions in the production of your book, and you are happy with the final product, then that’s all that matters. Only you can make the decisions that are best for your career (or whatever reason you choose to publish).


  3. I always laugh at that only-in-it-for-the-money business. Unless you can create as fast as you can type, you’re almost certainly working for less than minimum wage.


  4. Pingback: Links: Writing, Disability, Feminism | Natacha Guyot

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