If a Book Is Good, Does It Matter How It Was Published?

With the hullabaloo about the SterlingHouse Publishers booth at BEA last week, I started thinking about how important the publishing house is to the success of a book.

Publishers provide important services (editing, design, production) and the access to online and bricks-and-mortar stores that the average self-published book simply won’t get.

Continue reading at the new home of Jen’s Writing Journey.


10 responses to “If a Book Is Good, Does It Matter How It Was Published?

  1. I think it will always matter. I know lots of self-published authors are great writers with wonderful books, but to the rest of the industry they still look like rebels.

    If your book was rejected 100 times, that doesn’t mean it was *bad*. It does, however, mean the book didn’t fit the current market for some reason. It doesn’t matter that the writing is brilliant and flawless–it just won’t sell in the traditional marketplace.

    So agents and editors see that you’re self-published. Sure, some self-published authors get picked up by the daring and progressive agent. However, many/most don’t.

    Many will see you as delusional for thinking your book was so great it just had to be published despite not succeeding in the traditional arena; others will see you as a brilliant niche-market author whose writing is wonderful but still not suited to the current market. Unfortunately, usually neither spells success.

    It’s a tough place to be, especially for the self-published authors whose work really is great.

  2. It WILL ALWAYS matter. I know of one self published writer. She published her book to go along with the NC fourth grade curriculum. It is a historical novel, did very well. She had a lot of money and was able to advertise her book. She told me that traditional publishers look down on her for self publishing. I want to traditionally publish and besides that, Jen, I don’t have that kind of money. Sad but true! 🙂 Nice post though. I enjoyed reading it.

  3. I think it will matter, as no matter how self-publishing will be portrayed, there is the “junk” factor… You never know what’s inside the cover until you read it… which means having bought a non-returnable book.

  4. Jennifer Roland

    Jen, Robyn, and Rebecca, We’re definitely on the same page. I think the vanity publishers are predatory. They use the fears and frustration of would-be authors to make money.

    If my current WIP isn’t right for the market, I will keep it on ice and work on the next WIP. There’s always room for my descendants to posthumously release my unpublished early novels. 😉

  5. To me it doesn’t matter who published a book. I know of no reader to whom it does (although I’m sure they exist.) I’ve bought several self-published books.

    Also, I’ve self published a novel (not through one of the predatory, expensive vanity presses.) In fact, to publish it cost me a grand total of $5.31 (or something like that) that paid for the printing of a proof copy.

    Self publishing has allowed me to reach a large number of readers that would never know who I am if I hadn’t self-published. I’m (hopefully) building a following that will help me show that I deserve to be published my a big house. If I never do get “picked up”, I’ll at least have the experience (& feedback) of sharing my work with as many folks as possible.

    • Jennifer Roland


      Thanks for sharing your experiences with self-publishing. What led you to self-publishing? Have you also approached traditional publishers with your work? Have you had your work reviewed? How are you selling?


  6. I self published because I felt like doing so would help me meet my goals as an author. If are interested in all my reasons, there’s a post on my blog thatlays it out. http://www.storyhack.com/2009/01/02/why-did-i-self-publish/

    I did approach one traditional publisher. That story is embedded in the post I mentioned.

    What do you mean by reviewed? Several bloggers have reviewed it, many visitors to my site have reviewed it, and there are a few Amazon reviews as well. Big name or newspaper reviews? Not yet.

    To date, I have only sold a couple hundred copies of my book. However, traffic on my site has climbed from about 1,300 a month to 2,300 a month in the six months it’s been out. Having people see the book I’m sure has helped out with that.

    Also, I haven’t really done all that much to market my book. This summer should change that a little, as I’ve got some things going on – I’ll be getting a review on one of podcast that specializes in the genre of my book, I’ve got an audio trailer that’s appearing on another popular podcast later this summer, and I was interviewed for yet another fairly popular podcast, and that should be out in a week or two. Oh, and I have an ad page for my book that will be showing up in several other self published books in my genre. None of this by the way cost me anything – other than occasionally a copy of my book.

    I have an acquaintance in the same genre that’s been a little more on the ball with the marketing. In the 10 months her book has been out, she’s sold over 1,200 copies.

    I’m not looking to get rich, or even necessarily become a full time author. Self-Publishing just seemed to be a good fit for me.

  7. Jennifer Roland

    Thanks again, Bryce. This is all very interesting food for thought.

    I think for my goals, traditional publishing is the best bet. But I have enjoyed reading a but more about your experiences.

  8. Pingback: The Mad Editor’s Round-Up #8 | Diary of a Mad Editor

  9. Pingback: The Self Published Carnival #3 – Story Hack

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