The answer to that question is another question: what’s your goal? What are your hopes for this novel? You’ve spent the past however-long carefully slaving over it, and now it’s done; what do you want it to go and do?
Allow me to offer my own experience as some food for thought. Over the years, I’ve read uncountable articles, a few books, and many…many…more discussion boards and opinion pieces on the pros and cons of self-publishing. In a nutshell, these are the primary benefits and disadvantages as I see them:
- Your book can be in people’s hands almost instantly.
- You have COMPLETE control over EVERYTHING in the novel, from content to cover.
- You are your own publicity team, editor, publisher—all of it. You are god.
- You can develop your own brand, independent of a secondary company.
- It’s a fantastic ego trip.
- You need to have time to promote your book. Like, a LOT of time.
- You are god, but do you know how to be a deity? Do you have any idea how the publishing market works, or how editing works, or what to do to successfully promote your book?
- You won’t achieve that proper “I’m an author” feeling—not for a long time. No one arranges book signings for you, no one takes you on press tours or books guest spots on TV stations or YouTube channels. Not unless you do it yourself; hopefully you have connections.
- It’s a reality check. Most books—even the traditionally published—don’t become best-sellers overnight. Some Amazon.com books never sell at all.
Sound grim? Well, good. Too many authors wander into the blinding glare of self-publishing without understanding what they are getting (or not getting). It is vital to consider what you are hoping your novel will do. Do you want it to open doors in the publishing industry? To usher you onto red carpets and giant Barnes and Noble author events and conferences where the reading public will clap when you walk on stage?
Then self-publishing is probably not for you. Go to writing conferences, take classes, take time to improve your work, and query agents and publishers until you find a fit for your book.
On the other hand, if all you want is the novelty (pun completely intended) of being able to point someone to Amazon.com to purchase your book, self-publishing is perfect. If writing is something you love to the point where you have no interest in polluting it with the publishing industry, then go ahead and upload that file to CreateSpace. If you just want your friends, family, and maybe a few casually interested strangers to be able to enjoy something you’ve put a lot of effort into, then this is the route for you.
For my part, I intend to keep self-publishing every novel and novella within the Company of Souls realm. As time has gone by, I’ve realized that all I want from this series is a release from stress. I spend time with these characters, and I feel good, and I don’t want that to turn into a chore. I work too hard already.
Of course, why not share my work, once it’s finished? I’m happy to let others read what I’ve written, and if I earn a little bit of pocket money on the side, then great. But I’m not looking to break records. Not with these books, at least.
There will be projects—one of which I am, in fact, already working on—which I will take more “seriously.” These will be the manuscripts I tote to writing conferences. These will be the texts I spend hours devising query letters for and even more hours researching some minor details that factor in to the story or characters.
But for now—for the texts I’m working with—self-publishing serves my purposes. Before you get too set on becoming the god of your own little industry, you should ask yourself: does it suit yours?
(Find the latest TCOS work here: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Roast-Poetry-Prose-Pessimism-ebook/dp/B071CTZJ96/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492969595&sr=8-1&keywords=dark+roast+ray+green )