Dear Indigo: 

I’ve been doing research on self-publishing, and I’m almost convinced I want to go that route instead of the traditional route. It seems the best way to connect to my audience. However, I’m nervous that I’m making the wrong decision. How can I know if this is really the best option for my book?

DIM? (Do It Myself?)


Dear DIM?,

You answered your own question when you wrote, “It seems the best way to connect to my audience.” The question about whether or not to self-publish should always be set in the context of connecting to readers. Why? Because publishing isn’t an end—it’s a means.

New authors often think that once a book has been published, they’ve reached the finish line. However, the excitement of being published fades quickly if your book fails to connect with an audience. This is because the purpose of publishing is not to create a book (or even an e-book) out of your writing; it’s to connect your writing with an audience.

There is no such thing as a publishing company that reaches all audiences. There are plenty of great manuscripts out there being rejected each day because the publishing companies reviewing these manuscripts know they won’t be able to effectively market them to a particular audience. To illustrate what I’m talking about, I offer the following hypothetical situation that I share in all my workshops.

Two authors living in the same small town each wrote excellent books about the town. Author A wrote a brief history of the small town in an attempt to preserve the town’s history. Author B wrote a historical fiction story set in the town’s founding days. Author A’s book would be of interest mostly to people who live in or have lived in the town and also to a handful of outsiders interested in small-town histories. Author A has a pretty narrow audience. Author B’s book will appeal to residents of the town, but her book will also appeal to numerous historical fiction readers throughout the country. Which author do you think stands a better chance of finding a publishing company that will reach her audience? Author B, of course. Author A has limited options (if any) for companies that cater to her audience. Since Author A most likely knows just about everyone who will want to read her book, she would likely find more success as a self-published author than as a traditionally published author.

Regardless of what model you choose, you need to have an idea of who your audience is. Once you have that figured out, ask yourself if you can effectively connect your writing to this group of people.

It sounds to me like you’ve already done that, DIM?. So ditch the question mark already. (And that name. You’re more like QUITE SMART!: Questioning Until I’m The Expert So My Attempt Rings True!) If you’re convinced independent publishing is the best way to reach your audience, go for it!


Do you have a question about editing or publishing? Ask Indigo! Email with your question, and we will answer it in a future newsletter.

Vinnie Kinsella is Indigo’s publications consultant, helping those interested in independent publishing, or self-publishing. One of his current projects is helping an Indigo editor, also a writer, publish; for his other colleagues, he offers help in the form of homemade baked goods.