The Stigma of Self Publishing

Photo Credit: Indies Unlimited

Are you a self published author? Or maybe an aspiring writer considering self publishing once you polish that manuscript of yours? There are a few things that you should know before taking the step to self publish your book.


This is probably the most difficult assumption about self publishing to overcome. No matter if the person you’re talking to says it or not, a great number of people still believe that self published authors write worse than traditionally published authors. To the unknowing person, this is inherent in self publishing. You’ll likely then receive countless questions about the editing and cover art and physical makeup of the book that traditionally published authors will not. Have you ever been to a book signing or event for a popular author and had someone ask about the editing of the book? I haven’t and I’ve been to several.

The look

You’re probably wondering what the heck ‘the look’ is. It’s simple. It’s the look you get upon first revealing to someone that you’re self published. It essentially tells me the thoughts of the other person. It says, “Oh. So then you’re not good enough to go the regular route.” By no means are people trying to discourage or put you down, ‘the look’ is almost involuntary. I know plenty of great people who displayed it when I first told them that my book was self published. When you start telling someone about your newly released book, what it is the first question they ask? Who published it? I’ve probably been asked that question more than any other. It’s even asked by non-readers.


This isn’t necessarily a part of the stigma associated with self publishing, but it’s still worth mentioning. When you self publish, assuming that you didn’t make your own imprint doing so, it is quite difficult to find sales channels. If you use CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing then your book becomes one of millions available from Amazon. Which is great, but let me repeat that it becomes one of millions of books available from the online giant. Just being on Amazon is not enough. But also Barnes and Noble will not carry the book in its stores if the book is self published. Their shelves are reserved for the major publishing companies that have done business with the company for decades.


There are plenty of readers out there who don’t care whether a book is self published or not because it’s all about the quality to them. BUT, there are plenty of readers out there who will never ever ever ever ever purchase a self published book. This kind of goes with my first point about people believing that self published authors’ writing is lesser than that of traditionally published authors. This means that your free book on Amazon may be overlooked by a hardcore reader simply because it’s free. This means that your $0.99 book will be overlooked just the same. The point is that it may be difficult to find readers for your book, no matter how well written it is.

Don’t let these discourage you! If self publishing feels like a good fit for you, then I say go for it.

7 thoughts on “The Stigma of Self Publishing

  1. Even with small, independent presses, distribution is difficult, and bookstores won’t often carry the book. Plus, many traditionally published authors still have to carry the brunt of marketing. It’s easy to see why many authors are forgoing the ‘middle man’ and doing it themselves.


  2. One problem in Canada is that we have very few traditional publishers and so it is a lot of power in very few hands. Authors have been criticized for writing books for publishers, and publishers are more interested in the few larger literary prizes available. The literary community becomes homogenous. And works can languish for years before even getting a look. If I ever do decide to self-publish it will be without any expectation of making money or acquiring an audience of any substantial size.


    • There are a lot of publishers in the US, but the Big Five publishers control a huge chunk of the publishing industry here. I know I read a stat somewhere that gave the exact percentage but I can’t recall it off the top of my head. It was extremely high. I think writers are having to go into self publishing with your mindset because there are SO many books out there today. Any other expectations are just wishful thinking.


  3. I actually tried self-publishing. It didn’t go so well. I didn’t have the necessary channels to promote and I pretty much failed at self-publishing. For some reason I thought I would put my book out there and people would just find it. Ignorance on my part. After looking into it a little more I have decided to try traditional publishing. Mainly because I am too lazy to promote myself. That’s one thing that self-published authors fail to share with others. It’s not just writing, editing, and finding the perfect cover. It’s also knowing your audience and being able to get your name out there. It actually cost a lot more than what most are lead to believe.


    • Right. Self publishing is far more complex than it seems. Actually publishing the book is probably the easiest part. There’s no point in publishing the book and then failing at everything that comes after. It’s rough.


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