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Self-publish a book? Before you do, come closer. More. It’s dark in here. Closer… Nope, closer still.


I’m going to tell you a secret.

A confession really.

Do you see that, over there… next to the stairs?

Take a look.

Now, look at me.

It physically hurts to look at cartons of your self-published book in your garage or basement.

Publish a Book Basement

If you’re married or in a serious relationship, it hurts even more…

Because you’re going to hear about your foolish investment from your loving other
(and I don’t mean just once).

Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

It’s been 10 years now, and I’m still reminded of all the different ways we could have spent that money… and it’s not because I’m stuck in the past.

It’s because my beautiful darling beloved comes down into this basement once in a while to get something, and she sees my boxes of self-published books in a corner (underneath a blanket of dust and spider webs).

“We could have gone to Sweden,” she says.

“Yes, honey.”

“We could have gone to Vegas.”

“You’re right, dear.”

We could have this, we could have that.

Yes, I know…

Publish a Book Heartbreak

To be honest (if I had any wits about me), I’d get rid of these damn books.

But I keep thinking, One day I’m going to sell these rare volumes of poetry as limited,
first-edition collectibles…

Not sure if I’m delusional or a genius (only time will tell). Although the love of my life
(shhh, she’s just upstairs) has already formed her opinion.

To be honest, I can’t blame her.

Ten long years… and it still hurts.

An aching.

No, a burning.

A burning question…

* * *

Why Self-Publish a Book?

Why self-publish a book? Why self-publish a book? Why self-publish a book?

I guess I let my [something] get the best of me.

But what was it, exactly?

Why did I do it?

Deep down I must have known better, right?

Time for psychoanalysis…

Isn’t that what most writing is, after all?

Publish a Book Therapy

A cheap form of therapy?


Here goes…

Closing my eyes…

Deep breaths… in, out, in, out…

Drifting back in time…

One year… two years… ten years…

Slipping into my stream of consciousness…

What was I thinking???

“Why self-publish a book?”

“Get all the profit (instead of a tiny royalty).”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“No waiting (publishers take forever).”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“Do everything your way (no one editing your brilliance).”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“Be in complete control (instead of at the mercy of a publisher).”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“Design the cover that you want.”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“Get paid instantly (no waiting 6 months for royalty statements).”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“Guaranteed publication (no chance of rejection).”

Seems I’m really good at coming up with reasons to do what I want to do.

Creativity at its best (worst)?

Creativity Publish a Book

Today I’m much clearer, looking at those books in my basement. If I were to ask myself the same question today, I’d have a different answer…

“Why self-publish a book?”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“You’re a masochist.”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“You have money to burn.”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“You want to sabotage your marriage.”

“Why self-publish a book?”

“You’re afraid you’re not good enough to get a real publisher.”

It’s embarrassing, sharing my foibles like this. But it’s worth it. Because I know
that you might be asking yourself the same fateful question…

* * *

Before You Self-Publish a Book

Maybe I can spare you some grief, help you avoid the pain that I experienced
(and still experience from time to time, reflecting at moments like this).

Spiders in the basement.

Spiders in my mind.

I call it PTSPD, or Post-Traumatic-self-publishing-Disorder. Although you won’t find it
in the DSM-V, it’s a chronic condition triggered by self-publishing, exacerbated by
friends and family that make jokes and/or ask too many questions.

Publish a Book Shame

Yes, if you self-publish a book you’ll be able to start telling people that you’re a published author (and that’ll feel good for a while). But those same people are eventually going to follow up.

They’re going to ask more questions later like “How’s it going?” and “How many copies have you sold?” And that feels like crap (sorry, there’s no polite way to say it).

I hope you’ve learned your lesson by now (or, I should say, I hope you’ve learned my lesson). Because this is embarrassing…

But I’m willing to “throw myself under the bus” if it will help you.

In fact, one day I’ll probably upload a picture right here on my website… of my first (and only) self-published book.

That’ll teach you.

And I bet it would be even more therapeutic for me.

By the way, most self-published books sell less than 100 copies (most people don’t have more than 100 family members and friends who love them enough to buy their book).


* * *

Really, Why Self-Publish a Book?

Before you ask yourself that question, you should know… self-publishing is a short-term ego boost that costs you lots of money and almost always ends in failure.

I’m not telling you that you should never self-publish a book (I’m simply recommendingthat you only do it as a last resort).

Yes, I know…

It’s risky daring to dream about getting published by a traditional publisher.

You might not have what it takes.

But what if you do?

Publish a Book Success

Why self-publish a book?

Honestly, I don’t know.

As I stated in another recent article Self Publish a Book, just because you can do something (and that something might be tempting), it doesn’t mean that you should.

I beg you…

Don’t be seduced by the trappings of modern technology: print-on-demand, ebooks, the internet, blogs, and social media (and think that you can defy the publishing odds).

Or should I say “gods” (or “goddesses”)?

Goddesses Publish a Book

And, please…

Don’t be fooled by the charlatans and scammers, trying to convince you to work with a “publisher” that asks you to pay them something, instead of them paying you.

That’s self-publishing, too.

And it’s often a scam.

Click here to read my article about bad literary agents and writing scams.

Now, if you’ve already self-published and been disappointed by your results, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Just don’t let it happen again.

And, make sure you share your experience below.

Remember, it’s therapeutic…

Your weeping can be someone else’s warning.

And, it always feels good to vent,

– Mark

Mark Malatesta
Your “Undercover” Agent

P.S. Make sure you also check out this other article I wrote called Self Publish a Book. It contains a thorough list of factors to consider if you’re deciding whether you should self-publish a book or try to get a literary agent. This article (above) is, admittedly, a general diatribe against self-publishing. And I’m okay with that. 🙂

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