I’ve been mulling over this post for a few weeks now and just need to type these thoughts out before they drive me mad.
Awhile back I began to do some research on self-publishing because I knew nothing about the process and thought I’d become a little smarter on it. It is becoming an increasingly debatable topic within the realm of writers/agents/publishers, so I thought I’d take two posts to address my thoughts on the two rather strong viewpoints circling around cyberspace.
Let me first say that I respect ALL authors—those that go the traditional publishing route and those that choose to do it themselves. Both involve an intense amount of labor and passion for the craft of writing, which is so honorable to me. Neither of the viewpoints I will be discussing here are necessarily mine; they are views being talked about in the writing world and honestly, I am not sure what I think about them at this point. Still deciding that for myself.
First: If you are a writer, how would you answer this question:
Why are you attempting to publish your writing?
This is a question I constantly have to center myself around. If you answered to get rich or famous you can just do us all the favor and stop writing. That’s like a teacher saying he/she teaches to get the summers off. It’s stupid and probably means you shouldn’t be doing it. In most cases, writers want to be published to entertain, to inform others on certain topics, or to use their writing voice to persuade. Let’s just keep that question in mind as we traverse through these views?
So onto the first viewpoint: Self Publishing = Selling Out
I’ve read this exact phrase many times among published and unpublished authors in the past year or so. The main argument is that self-publishing allows anyone to publish their writing, therefore the bad eggs get in the mix spoiling the standard for ‘good’ writing. I understand this, I really do. But what exactly is the standard? Who makes it? Let’s take Author A and Author B, for example. Author A wrote a frantic page-turner with driving plot lines and intense boy stares and yet had fairly generic, hum-drum prose. Contrastingly, Author B wrote with stunning, tear-worthy prose and yet her plot was more boring than watching paint dry. But somehow, both Author A and B became widely popular with the general reader. Why is that? Is one better than the other? My thought is that the standard becomes what the reader wants. What resonates with them. What stirs them. What keeps them coming back.
The reluctance to self-publish is birthed from the idea that writers will forego the respect they might earn from the professionals in the industry if they chose to go it alone. Jackson Pierce herself recently said she would never read a book that has been self-published. That attitude kind of reminds me of the whole popular-kids-in-the-junior-high-courtyard thing. There was them and then there was everyone else who they thought wanted to be them. I flip my hair in the face of that. And I am pret-ty sure the folks that are out there spending globs of their own money trying to get their book published do not have the writing ability of Elmo, so let’s give them a little more respect than that, please.
So why is this idea out there? Well, because if you go down the traditional publishing route you:
-have experts in the field who have vast experience in sniffing out what is great about your story and making it shine, while helping you shed the stuff that gets in the way. They’ve done this so many times and know how to help you polish your work so it will sell sell sell. After all, they ultimately work for a business (but I’ll get more into that in my second post).
-get an advocate for you, your story, and your career when the only advocate you have in self-publishing is made-of-steel YOU.
– will have invaluable ins to help publicize your book. It’s just a fact that publishing companies have their oversized Michael Jordan foot in the door to get your book as much exposure to potential readers as possible, which is HUGE and very difficult to master on your own. There’s just no way around that.
-might have your book read by Jackson Pierce and any other authors who have sworn off self-published books. Yay for you.
And there are more benefits, but as a writer who is weighing the options here, these are the points that fall heaviest on my mind.
The stigma of the sell-out is present, but it is slowly diminishing. As the perception of the value of ebooks slowly swings on the pendulum, so will the self-publishing world. We are just in the middle of that swing, which is actually very exciting.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, especially if you are a writer. Especially especially if you have chosen your route to publishdom (or the route has chosen you).
You can find part two HERE.