Friday, June 20, 2008

Busting through Self-Publishing Myths-Part 1

If you're considering self-publishing, you are probably confused by the conflicting information that's available to writers on the Internet, in newsletters, blogs, magazines and the general "word of mouth" that gets spread around at writers groups. There is no simple, right-or-wrong answer to the question, "Should I self-publish? " However, the answer to your question lies in getting getting the facts straight before you make a decision.

Here are 6.5 Self-Publishing Myths that Need Busting:

1. You should self-publish if you keep getting rejections from agents and publishers. I have to say this the worst reason to self-publish and the best reason not to. This is advice is commonly seen on the websites of the less-scrupulous POD (print on demand) publishers who only want you to pay them to publish your work. The other place I see this reasoning is on the blogs of writers who act like 7th-graders with a substitute. (Yay, the teacher's not here. Let's do whatever we want!) Do not give up if you have received only a handful of rejections; every writer receives these. However, if you've been sending out the same manuscript to no avail for over a year, or have racked up over 100 rejections, it's time to rethink the work. Bring it to a writer's group or hire an editor to get some feedback. Take writing classes and attend conferences to find out how to improve your writing and package your work professionally in your submissions. After you have reviewed and improved the manuscript, then self-publish if you wish.

2. Self-publishing is vanity press. This is commonly espoused by smug literary snobs and people who haven't paid attention to the technology boom of the past 10 years. In the past, "vanity press" was the term used to describe the subsidy publishers who would print anything anyone brought in. Despite the high price, the quality of the work and the book was typically poor, and unwitting authors would end up with a garage or storage room full of books that couldn't be sold, not even to their mothers. With the advent of POD technology and more widely available publishing how-to information, however, self-publishing has become a more cost-effective and timely option for writers. The publishing industry is light-years behind other creative fields, such as film and music where indie performers are encouraged, praised and even revered. There are many reasons why an author might legitimately decide to self-publish that have everything to with talent and nothing to do with vanity.

3. You have to market yourself if you self-publish. Actually this is true. It's the presumption that if you have a traditional publisher, you don't have to market yourself that is the myth. People who give this as a reason not to self-publish have not read anything written by industry professionals or attended a writers' conference in the last 20 years. Every agent, editor and publisher in the business advises writers to build a platform and be prepared to be actively involved in their own book promotion. The Hollywood-enhanced notion of the author spending long days writing, evenings drinking and editors cleaning up their work while publicists scrambled to arrange book tours died decades ago. Today's successful authors treat their writing careers as a business that combines many talents and skills. And when did marketing become a four-letter word, anyway? Isn't the point of writing to communicate with your audience? There's no better way to do that than to talk about your book. So get into it, and spread your message!

Part 2 of this article busts through myths 4 through 6.5 and reveals the real information you need to know about self-publishing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the good information you are posting about self-publishing. As a professional in the publishing business (copyediting, proofreading, indexing) with almost 30 years of experience, I can say that the world of self-publishing has made great strides in even just the last few years. With the proper vendors (everything from cover design to editing), there is nothing that keeps a self-publisher from putting out a product that looks even better than those of the biggest publishing houses in the world, for whom quality seems to be lagging more and more each day. Many self-publishers in the realm of nonfiction forget about indexes, when really there’s little more than can add value to (or detract value from) a nonfiction book. I’ve worked on quite a few indexes for self-publishing authors, and if you’d like to know more (or about copyediting or proofreading), please visit my own blog: