Henry Herz-Flow-Chart-660px-5

The Independent Publishing Magazine, which had the good taste to mention me and Chris Meadows in their breakdown of “The 12 Publishing Shakers You Should Be Following,” has also found a wonderfully useful infographic courtesy of The Write Life, which put together a flow chart based on a questionnaire by author Henry Herz designed to answer that vexing question for most aspiring writers these days – “Should You Self-Publish or Go Traditional?”

With a fair dose of wit, Herz leads you through the decision-making process, and of course, much of the advice and analysis is down to his personal opinion of the factors that bear on self-publishing. An awful lot of the paths, for instance, seem to wind up in “You’re not ready – yet.” But it’s useful to have this level of insight and experience brought to bear, and for anyone who really wants to work it through, the entire questionnaire that the original graphic is based on is included just under the infographic to follow through online, with extra explanatory detail added.

You may even want to scale this up and put it on your floor to walk it out. But honestly, you really should be writing …



  1. As a reader, maybe I should produce my own Infographic. Something along the lines of:

    Do you have lots of time to spend looking at samples to find one good book among 10,000?
    Do you have a tolerance or bad spelling, grammar, or formatting?
    Do you believe self-published authors giving other self-published authors’ books five star reviews are genuine?
    Do you value bargin prices over quality?
    Will you live long enough to read all the good book already published?

    If you answer no to three or more, then reading self-published books are not for you.

  2. To Greg M:

    You say,

    “Do you have a tolerance or bad spelling, grammar, or formatting?”

    How about if you check your own writing before you criticize anyone else’s?

    If you still don’t get it — and I won’t be surprised if you don’t — shouldn’t “or” be “for”?

    As for self-published books, some of the best books I have ever read were self-published including “Looking Out for Number 1” by Robert J. Ringer. Incidentally, it sold several million copies back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, much more than the vast majority of books published by traditional publishers will ever sell. What’s more, Ringer’s complete self-published book of 90,000 words or more did not have any blatant errors in spelling as your short comment did.

    These quotations apply:

    “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain … and most fools do.”
    — Dale Carnegie

    “A non-doer is very often a critic — that is, someone who sits back and watches doers, and then waxes philosophically about how the doers are doing. It’s easy to be a critic, but being a doer requires effort, risk, and change.”
    — Dr. Wayne Dyer

    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambition. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
    — Mark Twain

    “Trying to blow out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter. In fact, yours is the one that is dimmed the most.”
    — Dave Erhard

    “Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives,
    but none about his or her own.”
    — Paulo Coelho

    “Many non-doers and under-achievers act as if they somehow deserve to sit in
    judgment of the most accomplished individuals on Earth. They have no such right.
    Pathological critics seldom have anything good to say about anyone. Indeed, lethargy and mediocrity are harsh critics of the remarkable. It’s not fair and it can be demoralizing for some. Fortunately for highly spirited souls, the Universe assigns the greatest rewards to those who produce the most helpful things for humanity and endure the most criticism from the under-achievers and the non-doers of this world.”
    — from “Life’s Secret Handbook”

    Another note:

    You also say,

    “Will you live long enough to read all the good book already published?”

    Another error here, in case you didn’t notice. I will let you figure it out.

  3. @Ernie,

    Yes, there are errors in my post; I tend to thumb text into the iPhone, then hit post without proof reading. C’est la vie. Maybe it’s bad enough from a computer programmer posting to a comment to a blog, but it’s completely unacceptable from an author “publishing” a book. My personal favorite “typo” was from a self-published author who used grizzy for grisly. (No bears were involved.) Or maybe it was the author who neglected to end the first – the FIRST! – sentence of his novel with punctuation. And he wasn’t aiming for a Finnegans Wake effect.

    I’m sure there are self-published authors who can write in complete, correct sentences. I’m sure there are self-published authors who can tell an engaging story, describe an interesting scene, and have complex characters. I’m sure there are self-published authors who don’t encourage friends, lovers, parents, siblings, sock puppets, writing buddies, or other reviewers-for-hire to post five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. But my personal exposure to self-published books and samples leads me to the conclusion that the crap out weighs the mediocrity by leaps and bounds, and any superior gem of book belongs to a lost treasure in an undiscovered country. In other words, I have no insensitive to seek out the possible good books in the shit volcano of bad stuff.

    But what I keep hearing is the tom-toms of self-published authors calling to other writers to join their circle. I must admit, self-publishing is a good marketing schtick that lures in lots of hopefuls ,and maybe they buy enough from other hopefuls to keep the commerce going, but as a reader – not an author – on the outside, I’m not buying.

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