Skip to main content

Should You Self-Publish After a Near-Miss?

Image placeholder title

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.
How Can I Help You?

How Can I Help You?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, your character is a high-end retail salesperson.

Phong Nguyen: On Freedom To Invent in Historical Fiction

Phong Nguyen: On Freedom To Invent in Historical Fiction

Award-winning author Phong Nguyen discusses his lifelong dream of writing his new historical fiction novel, Bronze Drum.

Historical Fiction Authors Don’t Expect Their Characters’ Battles To Appear in Modern Headlines, but Here We Are

Historical Fiction Authors Don’t Expect Their Characters’ Battles To Appear in Modern Headlines, but Here We Are

What happens to historical fiction when history repeats itself? Author Addison Armstrong discusses writing about the past and seeing it reflected in the present.

From Script

Art and Independence (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” television writer Vanessa Benton, Allegoria writer-director Spider One, Hulu’s Prey screenwriter Patrick Aison and director Dan Trachtenberg, and more!

Steven Hartov: On Shocking Truths in Historical Fiction

Steven Hartov: On Shocking Truths in Historical Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Steven Hartov discusses the surprising truths he discovered when writing his new historical fiction novel, The Last of the Seven.

Larry Beinhart: On Rejection Leading to Mystery

Larry Beinhart: On Rejection Leading to Mystery

Award-winning author Larry Beinhart discusses what he learned in the process of writing his new mystery novel, The Deal Goes Down.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A Competition Announcement, 6 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our self-published e-book awards, 6 WDU courses, and more!

Leah Franqui: On Killing Our Critical Inner Voices

Leah Franqui: On Killing Our Critical Inner Voices

Award-winning playwright and author Leah Franqui discusses how she examined her life through a fictive lens with her new novel, After the Hurricane.

Pacing Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Pacing Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses how to pace your story's fight scene and shares three examples from writers who tackle pacing differently.