Should You Self-Publish After a Near-Miss?

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Writers often ask if it's wise or helpful to self-publish their work if they have "near-misses" with agents or publishers.

There's no one answer that works for everyone. But I'll try to help you come to the right conclusion.

YES: Go ahead and try self-publishing a book

  • You know how to reach your readers (online or offline). Expressed another way: You have a platform that makes you visible to your intended audience.
  • You already have credibility with readers in your genre/category.
  • You have a marketing and promotion plan, with achievable goals. (Read more from JA Konrath on achievable goals.)
  • You're comfortable being online and have already experimented with online marketing and promotion; you have an online identity and have participated in online communities.
  • You have a current website and can update it yourself.
  • You have an entrepreneurial spirit.
  • You're in it for the long haul.


NO: Do not self-publish

  • You don't know how to find or reach your readers (online or offline).
  • You need physical bookstore distribution to be satisfied that you're successful (or that you're reaching your readers).
  • You don't yet have your own website.
  • You don't have a marketing and promotion strategy, but hope that someone will notice you.
  • You don't like spending time online and/or dislike social media.
  • It's your first manuscript and you don't want to see all that work go to waste. If that's the case, wait until you've written book #2 or #3 or #4 before you decide to release that first one. It'll still be there, trust me.
  • You're looking for quick success and an agent.


No. 1 myth to be aware of
: Self-publishing does NOT kill your chances at a traditional deal later. BUT: Do not spend any significant money on self-publishing—whether print or digital—until you're certain of two things:

  1. You're sure of your reach to your audience and your ability to market to them.
  2. You're confident of the editorial quality of your work.
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