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Don’t Let Them Fool You: Being Self-Published Is Hard

Podcast Episode Link: click here.

Podcast Episode Transcript: Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie welcoming you to episode #36 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.

Speaking of writing already, today’s episode is sponsored by The Genuine Writer’s Retreat. Our third annual getaway – this one in April 2020 – is a four-day, three-night experience in historic, picturesque Annapolis, Maryland. Have you ever been to Annapolis? It’s absolutely adorable, not to mention inspiring and the home of Sophie’s Crepes – which I, for one, will be partaking of while I’m down there.

Oh Sophie’s Crepes, how I miss you.

But warm Nutella concoctions aside, The Genuine Writer’s Retreat is an amazing experience for both new and experienced, published and unpublished, fiction, nonfiction and poetry writers. Hosted at a cozy little bed and breakfast, it includes comfortable rooms, most meals, two workshops and welcoming space to write. Only 20 writers will be admitted this year, and spots really are filling up. So make sure to register today at

If you do come down, I’ll tell you all of this next bit in person should you so desire. But considering everything I was just reading, I want to say it now as well because it’s so despicable to promote otherwise.

Self-publishing is not easy. And you shouldn’t trust anyone who says otherwise.

I speak as a self-published author myself – and one who loves being self-published too. I truly do. As my Genuine Writer blog posts over at will be discussing over the next few weeks, there are pros and cons to every publishing possibility out there, whether it’s with a Big 5 publisher such as Penguin Random House, or self-publishing. Or even vanity publishing, I suppose, even though vanity publishing is almost always an absolute scam.

For me personally, the pros of self-publishing outweigh the cons. But again, that does not make the process easy. At all. In any way, shape or form.

The whole reason why I stumbled onto this topic is because of the upcoming Genuine Writer blog posts. Like I said, they’re going to be looking into the various publishing routes, so I was looking up information about them, only to stumble onto sites proclaiming how awesome self-publishing really is and how superior it is – though in terms that seemed misleading at best and downright predatory at worst.

In the case of Authority Publishing’s post, “12 Reasons Why Self-Publishing Kicks Butt Over Traditional Publishing,” I’m going to put it into the latter category. Easily. Because Authority Publishing is one of the aforementioned vanity publishers. In case you don’t know what those are, they’re companies that will charge you intense amounts of money to handle such things as proofreading, formatting, cover design and publishing logistics. That makes them one-stop shopping – the pro – but at, as I said, ridiculous costs.

These aren’t reputable businesses that offer worthwhile services for reasonable amounts of money. They’re the type of entities that play on uninformed writers’ fears and egos in order to bilk hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars off of them. It’s disgusting. I’ve spoken to a few myself and read over what some of my clients have received from others. And they all say the same thing: “Oh, wow. We are so impressed by your book idea. We’re absolutely positive this one is going places. Let’s get you all set up with a price package now and get this show on the road.”

Oh please.

Now, I’m not completely ruling out that there might be exceptions to the vanity publishing rule. But so far, I haven’t met a single one that isn’t a lying, cheating snake of a sneak. And considering how Authority Publishing’s first of 12 reasons for why self-publishing is the way to go is that you “Make More Moola,” I’m throwing it right into the “same-old, same-old” category as its brethren.

Here’s what it says:

On average, traditional publishers pay authors around $1.25 per book in royalties. So if your book sells for $20, you earn just over a buck. You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that you have to sell a ton of books to actually make decent revenues with a traditional publisher. Conversely, when you publish yourself, your book printing and distribution costs might run around $4.00 per book. Sell a book for $20, and you earn $5 to $10 depending on the retail outlet, and $16 if you sell it yourself. Need I say more?

I’m so glad it ended on that question, because yes. It actually does need to say more. A whole lot more, in fact. For one thing, most traditional publishers will pay you for the rights to your book. It might not be a lot. But it’s still going to be something – and something automatic. Something tangible instead of hypothetical, which is what you get with self-publishing.

When you first start out at least, self-publishing is all hypothetical. You can hypothetically “make more moola.” But you can just as easily lose more moola. Or barely break even. Because, when you’re self-published, everything is up to you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a skilled marketer or not. The task is yours to either figure out yourself or pay someone else to do: neither of which is going to guarantee a single thing. Trust me when I say this.

You can shell out hundreds of dollars for a booth at a fair – only to maybe make $50. Been there and done that, by the way. You can also pay hundreds of dollars for advertisers – only to make absolutely nothing. Been there and done that too. And both losses were after careful thought and research.

Now, I have also had my success stories. Don’t get me wrong. And I’m not trying to dissuade you from self-publishing, only vanity publishing. But it is a simple fact that most traditionally published authors do make more than most self-published authors. And anyone who tells you something different is selling you something.

That’s it for this week. If you want to know more about traditional publishing, self-publishing and vanity publishing, make sure to check out Innovative Editing’s Genuine Writer blog or sign up for The Genuine Writer e-letter, which I’ll link to in the transcript. In the meantime, thanks as always for tuning into The Genuine Writer Podcast. It was great having you here, and I’ll catch you again next time!



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