Why I’ll Never Self-Publish — Steven Capps


I don’t intend for this post to be a, “bash self-publishing party,” or to put down the many, fantastic indie authors that I know. Instead, I simply want to respond to a damned annoying statement that gets brought up in almost every conversation I have with self-published authors. Usually it goes something like, “You shouldn’t waste your time trying to get an agent, because indie publishing is so much better,” and it makes me want to kick someone in the teeth. (Not that I could, a punching bag has literally given me a black eye before.)


I completely understand that many indie authors hear the exact opposite of what I am experiencing, and I think it would be interesting to read how an indie author deals with the, “Traditional publishing is the only real publishing,” mindset. For this post, I am only going to focus on my experiences, though I really would like to hear if you’ve had to deal with the opposite.

First, the main reason why I have no desire to ever self-publish is because part of my dream is being traditionally published and part of that process is getting an agent. I know it sounds stupid, and it’s not fair, but I place higher prestige on traditionally published books versus self-published ones. I know that there are bad books on both sides, but since I am a nobody, the only way any of my manuscripts will get accepted is if they are actually good. And one of the best people to spot a quality manuscript is an agent.

Off subject, but while there are countless, courteous self-published authors, I always see some SOB in on social media who truly thinks that their work is the best thing ever written. Even through the Internet, their ego has a god damn gravitational pull. I hate the culture of shameless self-promotion. I hate that writers would rather give four and five-star reviews to crap books, simply because they don’t want to hurt another writer’s feelings. I don’t want a participation trophy, and I don’t want to be associated with those kinds of people. I want to earn it.

I understand that many self-pub authors have to market themselves if they hope to have any possible financial success, so it isn’t fair to hate on self-promotion. It takes a lot of work outside of writing to make a book successful, but this is another reason why I don’t want to self-publish. Agents, editors, and publishers exist to fulfill this part of the industry. I love writing and not just narratives. I enjoy writing for my blog, connecting with like-minded people, and pretty much writing whatever I want. I do not like the idea of being forced to make post after post about my own work with the hope that I get a few e-book sales. It makes my success as an author contingent on my ability to market and not my ability to be a fucking writer.

The biggest upside that self-pub authors use to try to convince me is that the royalties are much higher in indie publishing. This is completely true. Amazon offers like 70% royalties while most big houses offer around 10%. The problem with their argument is that most major publishers will offer an advance which will compensate the author for the work that they have all ready put in. An indie book does not see a dime until their book starts selling, and if an indie book flops it doesn’t matter that the author had 70% royalties. Their poorly performing counterpart will still have earned their author a few thousand dollars in an advance.

There is one last item that makes me never want to self-publish. 9 out of 10 self-published books that I have read are terrible, but 10 out of 10 self-published authors believe that their book is the exception. If I self-published, I could never be sure that my stuff wasn’t crap just like the rest of them. I should add that I am okay with writing crap, hell that’s pretty much all I write right now, but I’m not okay with that being the culmination of my life’s work.

If I ever publish a novel it will be with a traditional publisher. Like I said at the beginning, this has not been a knock against indie publishing, but rather a response to all of the people who try to belittle my choice of pursuing my dream. I still would love to hear about indie authors dealing with snobby people from traditional publishing, so if you have a story please don’t hold back. I hope that everyone is having a wonderful day and that at least someone found this helpful.

via Why I’ll Never Self-Publish — Steven Capps


16 thoughts on “Why I’ll Never Self-Publish — Steven Capps

  1. I understand where you are coming from in wanting to be recognized as a legitimate writer, but the one reason you did not mention for indie writers is writing memoirs for family and friends. I am retired. I have written and self published several books, not for the money, not for the recognition, but for my children and grandchildren. I sell my books at cost and do not care that I don’t make a dime of profit.. It is the satisfaction of knowing that future generations will know who I am because of my writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been sending query letters, etc. to agents and small publishers since May, 2016. I’ve had a few close bites. Even in rejection letters, there is something greatly satisfying in knowing that someone who knows what the fuck is up has found value in my writing. To be a traditionally published author has been my goal since childhood. I love books. I want to hold my book in my hands and say, “Hell, yes. This is MINE. I wrote this.” I want a product to sign in black Sharpie for my readers. I have too much respect for my craft to give it up to Amazon, or Smashwords, or whatever the fuck.

    I am constantly met with, “Why don’t self-pub?” Uh, because I’m better than that bullshit. That’s not vanity (it is). That’s healthy pride in my work–determination. I have read ONE Amazon author that makes me question why he’s wasting his talent self-publishing. All of that being said, I do respect a writer who self-publishes only to share without financial gain. That’s a nice sentiment by Dwight up there.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love them post. I am all for everyone knowing and deciding exactly which route they need to go in for themselves. There are validating points on every side. Publishing motivations are personal ones and it is okay to be strong and with strong opinions about the route to take for yourself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand what you mean, and I feel every writer has to find their own path. What works for one writer won’t work for another. It really depends on what your writing goals are.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This pretty is pretty much how I feel. I want to be traditionally published… I have done a few POD things but the problem with this is a) they might be crap, and b) I want to work with an agent and an editor. I have a novel coming out later in 2017 from a small press, but it’ll be a real book” I got a (small) advance for it, and so on. Even better, though, is the fact that my editor is all about helping me make this book as good as it can be, so she is kicking my ass with revisions, just not taking any prisoners. And that’s GREAT! It’s just what I wanted! It”s hard, but her input means that my book will be twice the book it was when she accepted it fro publication. There is also (c), I hate doing all the promotional work. I know I will have to when my book comes out, but at least I’ll have some direction and won’t have to do it all myself.


  6. There’s some harsh truth in this. I will say, too, as an author who is currently going through both the process self-publication (which i also thought I’d never do) and that of traditional publication with a small press (which has been a painfully long process), I will say I think traditional publishing is easier. Getting the attention of a publisher or agent is a huge hurtle, but the author and work both grow a ton through that process, and yes, the work usually comes out better for it. Still, obviously, I think there are circumstances that call for self-publication, too. It’s just really scary because the burden rests entirely on the shoulders of the author. Not an experience to be entered into lightly.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have gone both routes (my publisher did nothing to promote or sell my book) and much prefer to self publish. The practical side: I’m 80 years old, and my skin is very thick after a long, adventurous life, but I don’t have time to wait for rejection notices. Would a competent editorial staff make my mystery novels better? Of course. But I like them the way they are, and people who read them say that they enjoy them. I make enough money to convince Revenue Canada that that is what I’m trying to do. And the joy of having found in writing a passion to replace the mountaineering and other adventures that my aging joints no long support is beyond price.

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m going to self-publish my first book soon. It is a niche book for a niche audience. My book is going through the process of an editor, and beta readers (who happen to be experts in that niche). I highly doubt that a traditional publisher will even look at my book it is that niche lol. Besides, I like working on my own schedule and time.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m the exception to every rule, apart from common sense. Traditionally published books are better. That’s my opinion. Apart from Joe Lawrence East End Butcher Boy there is no self-published author I want to read, or would read again. The quality problem isn’t going to go away. You have people asking why they’ve only sold eight copies of their new book and then you find out they’re twelve. I might self-publish in the future. The problem with publishing or self-publishing is largely the same, millions of other books are being published every year. Publishing into the void makes it even hard work getting noticed. I know that better than most.

    Liked by 1 person

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