Self-Published Authors vs. Self-Published Authors: Can We All Just Get Along?!

If you have self-published your book, or if you have considered doing so, you may have seen the nasty debates occurring between self-published authors online.

Long ago, the nasty online battles were usually between traditionally published and self-published authors. Some traditionally published individuals openly mocked self-published authors on the Internet, saying they weren’t “really published” because they did it themselves. I was (and still am) surprised by how rude some of them can be while hiding behind their computer monitors. I have a traditional contract with St. Martin’s for one of my books and, after being unhappy with that experience, I only self-publish my books now. If I have to do all the work anyway, including promotion, why should I give up my rights to a traditional publisher? Even after the book was published by St. Martin’s, I never dreamed of thumbing my nose at self-published authors. At that time, I had been self-publishing my own books for a number of years, which is what led to my traditional contract. The book St. Martin’s purchased was initially a self-published title I wrote and sold with my co-author. Many self-published authors like myself have gone on to land lucrative traditional contracts.

After my disappointing traditional publishing experience, I couldn’t wait to get back to self-publishing because I’d earned far more doing that over the years than I’d pocketed from my traditionally published title.

So, while we used to see the traditionally published authors berating the self-published ones online (and still occasionally do)…we now have another battle going on (and this has been happening for awhile now, too). Some self-published authors choose to publish and sell the book on their own while others choose to hire a service, like a Print on Demand (P.O.D.) publisher.

What’s the difference?

Authors who don’t hire a service must either design their own book’s interior (or pay a designer), design their own cover (or pay a professional cover designer), buy their own ISBN, find a printer and a distributor, get a merchant account, set up a website, process sales, assist confused or disgruntled customers, process chargebacks, chase after customers who send back checks, etc., etc. These authors set up their own small publishing companies, and truly make a “business” out of publishing their books. They can earn more when a copy sells, and can pay less when they buy copies directly from their printer. But, they generally end up spending more time on the business side of publishing than they do writing future books.

Authors who hire a P.O.D. publishing service hand over their manuscript to the publisher, give some input on the design and the cover, and let the publishing service take care of the rest of the publication process, including printing, sales, distribution, customer service, chargebacks