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Misconceptions of Self-Publishing


By: Margena Holmes

In this day and age there are many ways a writer can become a published author. There’s the traditional way of submitting your work to agents and publishers with no promise of getting accepted. There are independent publishers, where you submit your work and with it being a smaller company, you may be accepted more readily. Then there’s the self-publishing road. You do everything yourself and hit Publish and your word-baby is out in the world.

Once people find out I’m an author, the questions come fast.
“Oh, you’re an author? Who’s your publisher?”
“Where did you send it to?”
“Can I buy it in Barnes and Noble?”

When I tell them I’m a self-published author, the light slowly fades from their eyes.

“Oh,” they say, as if it’s some kind of disease.

Somehow self-publishing has gotten this stigma that it’s a bad thing, a lesser thing. Here are just a few misconceptions:

Misconception #1—It Can’t Be Any Good

There have been quite a few well-known authors who first were self-published. Andy Weir the author of The Martian, first published his work a chapter at a time on his website. His readers begged him to make it available as an e-book, which he did, and it became an Amazon #1 bestseller! That’s when it caught the eye of a traditional publisher and very soon after a movie was made.

Lisa Genova, the author of Still Alice, is another who started out as a self-published author. After being rejected by everyone, she published it herself. After gaining popularity, Simon & Shuster picked it up.

Misconception #2—It Will Be Riddled With Mistakes

There is no doubt that some will have the occasional typo in it, but most self-published authors—the ones who care about their work—will have given their work to a critique group, a beta reader, and then an editor before it ever sees the light of day. Having those extra sets of eyes cuts the mistakes down to a minimum. Most self-pubbed books I’ve read have been edited meticulously. Being traditionally published doesn’t mean your work won’t have a mistake or two. I’ve found missing quotation marks, continuity problems, or misspelled words in books written by well-known authors.

Misconception #3—Self-Publishing Is Easier Than Traditional Publishing

It’s only easier in that we can see the fruits of our labor more quickly than a trad pub author. As self-pub authors, we have to do everything ourselves, or hire someone to do it. Editing, formatting, covers, marketing—none of that is easy (or cheap!). It can take hours just to format a book for print. Marketing—ha ha! How to market, where to market, we have to learn how to do that, and it takes time.

Misconception #4—Self-Published Books Are of Lesser Quality

It depends on where you go to have your book printed. I have print books from different self-pub authors, and honestly, I can’t tell the different between them and a trad pub print book. Will the inside of a self-published book have same quality (i.e. no mistakes) as a trad pub? See #2 above.

I read a lot, both traditionally published authors and self-published authors, and I feel that the self-published authors can hold their own when it comes to comparing them to traditionally published authors.

Additional Reading:
Indie vs Traditional – Which Would you Choose?
How to Self Publish and Keep Your Sanity

photo of margin holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email:

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