Friday, June 24, 2011

On Self-Publishing

I love self-publishing, it's such a liberating experience. You become the master of your own destiny. The burden is yours and you succeed or fail on your own merits.
I think in the past, people who might have considered writing a story, novella or novel were discouraged because the effort it took to write with conventional tools and convince a traditional publisher to accept it, was so daunting they never tried.
Thousands and thousands of wonderful stories lay parked in people's brains never to be read.
Not any more, because you don't need to hurdle the publishers gate, you just lengthen your stride and arrive at the finish line. You self-publish. No waiting months for a dreaded rejection letter, no lengthy times from acceptance to publishing, and the work is yours to do with as you wish.
Are all self-published stories good?
No, but not all conventionally published stories are worthy either. They may be spruced up by a good editor, but trash is trash even if polished to a high degree. Readers know and punish both the author and publisher by ignoring the work.
Are many self-published books good?
A resounding yes! Over and over. Wonderful examples abound, actually more works than traditional publishers, and it will only grow larger because more people are self-publishing, truly talented people who write amazingly creative stories. Stories which would have never surfaced if the traditional publishers still guarded the gates.
Today readers have a huge variety to choose from. No longer are they burdened by exorbitant prices, paper books scattered throughout the home taking up space, or suffering from what the traditional publishers think they should read. They are finally free to choose.
Such a liberating feeling.
Many times I have heard that with freedom comes responsibility.
Nowhere is this more true than in the self-publishing world. The self-published author has a responsibility to his or her readers. You must make the work as free from error as you possibly can. The reader should be able to rely upon you, not upon your publisher.
When readers pay for your work they should feel confident that you put forward your best effort, and they will enjoy reading it. Nothing causes more dismay than a promising book riddled with mistakes.
If you write something that people like and you try your absolute best to make it a quality work, people will come.
If you don't, you can expect to fail.
Don't look for excuses. The internet contains ample help. With all the author's groups and informative blogs on the subject of writing, there's no excuse for shoddy work. I know, I belong to a few of them and learn from them. Even if you have limited grammar skills, you can learn. You must learn to use the tools of language before you finish a work and publish it.
Traditional authors and publishers argue that self-publishing is only an electronic form of vanity press. It can be, but so can traditional publishing. Their argument is one of the last barbs of a breed facing true Darwinism.
The readers will decide the issue. As a group they are smarter than all of us.

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