Bob Baker's Full-Time Author Blog

Self-Publish to Attract a Traditional Publisher

A news story in the Eureka, CA-based Times-Standard profiled a number of local writers. One section of the article discussed self-publishing and made a point I've been stressing for years:

Self-publishing has its pros and cons, but still it's becoming more of an accepted path of breaking into the publishing world.

[David] Kindopp self-published his first book for two reasons, he said. "One, the notorious difficulty of finding a literary agent and/or a publisher. Two, the general ease of self-publishing today," he said.

Kindopp believes that self-publishing provides a big advantage in that a writer can begin to market their work immediately and "find your audience."

"Once you generate reasonable sales you can more easily get the attention of agents and publishers," he said.

Lesson: Even if you eventually want to have your book put out by a traditional publisher, doing it yourself at first is an ideal way to get there. Why go through rejection and delays, when you can get an early version of your book into the marketplace now and start building a fan base?

Once you have a track record and a success story to tell, you'll have more value to bring to an agent or publishing. And, when you get to that point, you may decide to continue self-publishing anyway. That's what I do. And it's worked out wonderfully for me!



  • I'm not sure I would say that self-publishing is an "ideal" way to reach traditional publishers. I see at least two problems with self-publishing:

    1. There are a lot of companies that prey on self-published authors, selling them services that, they say, will get their books sold or better known. Some of the so-called "Print-on-Demand" publishers (really vanity publishers that use POD) are particularly agregious.

    2. All self publishing has a poor reputation in the industry. Booksellers often assume, without reading, that any self published book isn't worth reading, let alone stocking in their stores. Self published authors usually have to do quite a lot of work to overcome this disadvantage.

    I'm NOT suggesting that your comment is off the mark. Many self-published authors have found traditional publishing deals because they self-published. But if it is more than a fraction of 1%, I would be shocked.

    By Blogger Kent Larsen, At Thursday, January 18, 2007  

  • Kent Larsen has pinpointed the major problem with self-publishing: It has a poor reputation in the industry. Not only booksellers, but also distributors and reviewers tend to ignore self-published books. (Some reviewers, particularly at newspapers, ignore books that aren't from a publishing house whose name they recognize.)

    I believe the acceptance of self-publishing by new writers is growing largely because it is more accessible (price-wise) and easy.

    One thing prospective self-publishers fail to see is that the simple act of self-publishing does not get you into the distribution chain. That's almost a prerequisite for getting into the chains as well as independent bookstores.

    Yes, if you sell a lot of copies without burning out the market, it is possible to get a deal with a traditional publisher. But, like Kent, I think that the number of self-published authors who have found traditional publishing deals is small; that's why when one succeeds there is so much clamor about it. This route may be "ideal" in some respects, but it is very unlikely.

    Self-publishing does have a good chance of success in niche markets, though.

    By Blogger Michael A. Banks, At Thursday, January 18, 2007  

  • I’d recall the people of to ascertain that too!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At Thursday, November 19, 2009  

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