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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Kings of Self-Publishing

... aren't really self-published, are they?

Sci-fi author Tobias Buckell makes a good point in his response to the "Switch to self-publishing or you're a slave!" faction. Publishing with the Amazon imprint is NOT self-publishing.

If you have an editor, cover-artist, and publicist for your book who don't get paid in advance then, no, you aren't self-published. They've switched publishing houses for better royalties. Good for them, but not necessarily good for anyone else.

More and more the publishing forums on writing websites are flooded with "You're stupid to go to a traditional publisher." -or- "Why are you sending a query? Just go to Smashwords!" Both ideas assume that the person publishing has the knowledge, resources, time, and energy to self-publish.

Let's not lie here, self-publishing means becoming your own publisher. That means more up-front costs (something not all new authors can afford), it means more time choosing cover art, it means more self-promotion (which is unlikely to compare to a major publishing house if you are a new author), but it does mean getting the book on the shelf faster.

Traditional Publishing is publication by committee. Self-publishing is an army of one (plus hired minion for editing and art work). The hardest part for a new author is getting the publicity. It's going to become a sticking point eventually.

The future trend might be that authors start with a Big 6 publisher and move up to self-publishing once they have an established fan base. Right now we have the reverse, and looking over the hundreds of self-published e-books newly arrived on any given day it's a wonder that any of them get significant sales. The vast majority of self-published work is wallowing and dying unread because authors put their book up and hope that someone will read it.

So where does that leave us?

I'm still of the opinion that you have to do what works for you. Educate yourself on the options. Make an informed decision looking at what you can do, what you want, and what you think the work can achieve. Know that once a decision is made and a book published it is usually the end of the question for that book...

... but - a little aside here - there are smaller publishers and e-publishers that will consider acquiring a previously self-published book. Usually they are looking for the first book in a series. Do your homework, the option is out there if you know where to look (*cough*Carina Press *cough*)

Ebook are opening up your options for publication. Just, look before you leap and don't make an uninformed decision based on hype.
- If you want to self-publish read everything you can on the subject (look up @goblinwriter on Twitter for tips).
- If you want to go Big 6 start reading the agent blogs and taking notes.
- If you want to go for a small press go find the author websites (Michelle Argyle has some great posts on working with a small press).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention. :) I am in the arena of do what works for you. Seeing someone say there's only one way to do something, quite frankly pisses me off the more and more I see it. Especially when it comes to self-publishing. My publisher picked up my self-published book, but not until after I'd signed a different book with them. Everyone's path is their own. :)