Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eddie Snipes on self-publishing

Thanks to everyone who entered the Go Teen Writers Elevator Pitch contest! We received 22 entries, which is about half of what we get for prompt contests. I wasn't sure what to expect (writing a one-line summary of your book isn't nearly as fun or easy as writing 100 words of a story) but I'm proud of those who entered and impressed by the quality. Wonderful job, guys! The next writing prompt will go live Monday, August 1st.

Today we're continuing with our series on self-publishing. We've heard from Betsy St. Amant on POD publishing, Angela Breidenbach on her self-publishing experience, and today we have Eddie Snipes, author of I Called Him Dancer. Eddie will be around to answer any questions you may have for him, so feel free to leave questions in the comments section.

In Eddie's words:

Why Self-pub?

Traditional publishers are focused on one thing – how to market to the masses. For this reason, publishers are resistant to anything new. While they say, be unique, if your work doesn’t fit into a proven genre, they won’t take a chance on you. In other words, be unique, just like everyone else.

I chose to self-publish so I could keep the vision of my book. I

want to publish on my schedule, with my vision, and control the content. Talk to any published author and you’ll find that the author’s vision may not be the publisher’s vision. When there is a conflict, the publisher has the final say.

Self-published authors aren’t dependent upon the industry. The query process for an agent could take months or years. After landing an agent, it could take months or years to find a buyer for the book. Then it could be another year or two before it hits the press. For most authors, it’s a long and painful process.

Cons to self-pubbing

No paid book advance. Advances are shrinking, so this is losing its importance, but if a self-published book flops, the author makes nothing.

Loss of respect. If you self-publish, you can be a bestselling author, and still be considered a hack. John Locke is a New York Times bestseller and has had six books in the top ten at one time, but people still say he’s not a real author.

Self-published authors are excluded from awards and many other recognitions. This will change as the market does, but if getting praise from the publishing industry is important to you, self-publishing isn’t a good option.

Marketing is all on the author. For the most part, this is true for traditional authors as well, but traditional channels include press releases and easy book distribution. Even so, book marketing is the author’s responsibility. In my opinion, if an author has to do the work, he or she should get a higher profit.

Editing, cover art, printing, distribution, and marketing are on the author. It’s a big job, but in my opinion, not difficult to do. When help is needed, there are professionals who can do these things for a reasonable cost.


This is my opinion, but I’m convinced it’s true. If you plan to publish as an independent author, don’t use a self-publishing press. The services are overpriced and if you are willing to do the work, the cost can be low. Most self-pub presses overprice books. If the book is $18, you won’t sell to anyone but friends. CreateSpace gives the option for authors to publish for just the cost of the book. Then you can set the price as low as you want, and your only other cost is editing, cover art, etc.

Get informed and make a smart decision. I’ll continue to self-publish, but each person needs to evaluate their own goals.

Keep on writing!


  1. The elevator pitch was fun, and challenging! :-) I think 100 word opening is certainly easier, but it was neat to change it up and try our hand at doing an elevator pitch!

    I self published my first book and am currently working on another. I'd love it if I could find a traditional publisher for it. But if I can't, I'd consider self publishing again and just working harder than my first book at getting the word out there. :-) Thanks for the tips, Edward!

  2. Is it true that many authors who already have their fame are turning to self-publishing because agents are starting to charge more?

    - Ellyn

  3. Thanks for posting my article! I appreciate that.

    @Ellyn - Several traditional authors are turning to self publishing, but not because agents are charging more. It's one of those calculated decisions. There are advantages on both sides and each author needs to look at his or her work, personality, marketing ability, and other factors, then decide on which road to take.

    Some traditional authors believe they can be just as successful on their own, and get higher royalties without the agent and publisher taking their cut. Others are staying put because they see the value in having a team behind their work. Both are valid choices.

  4. Stephanie, on the elevator pitch thing I just watched the contradiction you talked about play out!!! It was an everyday situation and not novel worthy BUT I'm so giddy I picked up on it. Thanks for explaining it to us all :)

  5. I was really confused about the elevater pitch contest, so I didn't enter. But sounds like it was fun! Congrats to those who entered!

  6. Oh, Faye, next time just ask me! You weren't the only one who had questions.

  7. Glad it "clicked" Tonya. Love that!

  8. I'm so disappointed! for some reason I thought it was due today, not yesterday...

  9. Congratulations to all who entered the elevator pitch... I should enter some time :)

    Thanks for the info about self publishing, Eddie!

    - Paige Taylor

  10. I really enjoyed writing my pitch -- because it showed ME a little about what my book is about!:P