#5onFri: The Five Scariest Things About Being a Self-Published Author

by S.G. Tasz
published in Community

Editor’s Note: The following is a scary story based on the author’s experiences with being self-published. Happy Halloween!

The autumn wind howls through the bare branches, rattling the dead leaves as the phone lines skip rope overhead. A lanky figure emerges from the gloom, its tattered clothes flapping against its mottled green skin. Slobbering and moaning, it lurches toward the warm glow of a nearby house. Inside, a figure hunches over a computer, her back to the window, unaware of her impending doom.

The thing raises its gnarled hand and drags its ragged fingernails down the windowpane. Startled, the woman turns around, her own finger hovering over the Return key. It freezes, stunned by the harsh light of the confirmation window:

“Would you like to publish your book on Amazon now?”

With a bloodcurdling scream, the creature flees back into the darkness.

Okay, so maybe that exact scenario hasn’t happened (yet…). But as the proud author of six self-published titles, take it from me: The world of self-publishing is full of thrills, chills, and things that go bump in the night.

 In honor of All Hallows Eve eve, let’s spend this #5onFri freaking out over…getting self-published!

1) Shooting a Gun, Throwing a Knife, and Wielding a Chainsaw–At the Same Time

So, you’ve finished writing your book. Now what?

You need an editor. Where do you find one? You want to design your own cover. How do you know what you want to make or which software to use? How do you create an ebook? Should you offer a paperback too? What about advertising? Should you do it, and if so, where? Amazon? Facebook? And what the heck are “keywords”?!

Self-publishing requires a lot more knowledge than how to write a good story. You need to become your own mini-publishing house, and that requires research. But don’t panic—the information is no more than a Help section reference or Google search away. Like most things, it all comes down to attitude.

The Bottom Line: If you love learning, self-publishing is a treasure trove of new skills, experiments, and discoverie

And when it comes to honing your craft, places like DIY MFA make that journey convenient and fun!

2) Falling into a Bottomless Money Pit

I’ve heard it at nearly every writing conference I’ve ever been to. “If you want to make a million dollars, don’t be a writer.”

Turning a profit can be tough. For self-published authors, the challenge starts immediately. Editing, book layout, cover artists, printing—all the things that are baked into the traditional model are pay-to-play for selfies, and that’s just to get the book in your hands. 

After that, ads and marketing can eat up as much as you want to spend, and more. The upside: You get a bigger slice of the royalties. The downside: You’ll spend the first chunk of those royalties covering what you’ve already spent—or worse, you’ll never make enough to recoup them at all.

The Bottom Line: Until you’re well-known enough to cover your budget on presales alone, self-publishing will be a cost-deficit production.

3) Being Branded with a Red-Hot “SP”

I hate to tell you this, but…

Even after you spend all that time learning how to be a publisher and a good writer, there will still be those who turn their noses up at you, simply because you’re self-published. Even in a post-50 Shades era where an indie book can do just as well on the charts as a traditional one, the idea persists that, if you’re not traditionally published, you’re not a “legitimate” author.

This is an outdated notion. Yes, there are still titles out there that could use some quality control, but the myth of throwing your book on Amazon one night and waking up to instant success is dying. To make a career as any type of author, you need to produce quality work. Self-published authors understand that as much as anyone else.

The Bottom Line: Self-publishing is not a shameful act, even if some still think it is. Instead of arguing, prove them wrong by continuing to produce the best work you can.

4) Being Alone in the Woods

 It’s lonely out there for a selfie. You have no agent, no publisher, no release team. Anyone you hire will be contract-based and therefore temporary. And once your book goes live, there is no fanfare or balloon release. Just a click of a button, and a follow up email letting you know your book is live. If you want balloons, you have to get them yourself.

The solution? Social media. There are hundreds of online communities dedicated to supporting self-publishers, and they are full of people who will celebrate, commiserate, and help.

The Bottom Line: You’ll have to look around to find the group that suits you best, but you can find one.

5) Discovering You’re a Pod Person

You know what I’m talking about. The feeling that you’re a fake, a hack, or somehow undeserving of any success you have. Yes, it’s the dreaded Imposter Syndrome, and at one point or another we’ve all come down with a case of it. Combined with that wretched SP brand—someone literally telling you “you’re not a real author”—and you end up with Imposter Syndrome Squared.

The Bottom Line: Many have tried to eradicate the dreaded IS, but its prevalence continues. Just keep on holding your head high. Don’t feed the trolls.

And keep this in mind: Constructive criticism is a critical part of being an author. Sure, it’s not fun to hear that someone didn’t like your book. But it also means that some actually read your book. And if people are reading your book, then how can you be an imposter?

Any Last Words?

The path to self-publication is paved with pitfalls and beset by monsters. However, if you know the challenges before you begin, and approach them with enthusiasm, your journey will be much easier and (dare I say?) even a little fun. So, don your armor, grab your flashlight, and strap on a backpack full of garlic and silver bullets. Because as they say, the only thing we truly have to fear is fear itself. 

And maybe zombies.

Recommended Resources

Please note: I am not receiving any compensation for these recommendations. These are simply outlets I have used and found helpful.


Chimera Editing

Amazon Ads:

 5 Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge Facebook Group (Free Training)

 Kindlepreneur (Free and Paid Tools)

Content/Social Media Marketing:


#writingcommunity and #writerscafe (Twitter)

Indie Author Coalition Facebook Group

And of course –Word Nerds Unite!

SG Tasz

S.G. Tasz specializes in comedy-horror, paranormal fantasy, supernatural realism, and the cross-sections of all three. Her current series, Dead Mall, follows a team of janitors and mall cops who must battle the hordes of hell in a nearly abandoned shopping mall. In addition to writing, she works as a digital content manager and recently founded The Uglycat Press, a resource hub and review outlet for independent authors. She currently lives in Las Vegas. More information about her books and services can be found at www.sgtasz.com.

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