My Thoughts on Self Publishing

“Traditional publishing is dead, a victim of its own self importance. Writers of the world, step over the carcasses of the troglodytes. A new world awaits, and it’s all about you.”
Dan Poynter, Self Publishing Manual, Vol 2


I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more…

There has never been a question in my mind about which publishing route I would take. Traditional versus Self Publish. I always knew I was a self-publishing kind of girl… I am definitely a DIY’er and self publishing simply falls right in line. I am also a bit of a control freak. To turn the manuscript that I slaved over for months or years and have someone who is not in my head proceed to butcher — I mean edit — it into what their opinion of what my message should be gives me the willies. My editor works with me to massage the manuscript into my vision, not hers…

I started writing many many years ago. When I started, one of the first reference books I purchased was Dan Poynter’s original Self Publishing Manual. It became my publishing bible. Sadly, I cannot find my copy so the other day I went on Amazon to pick up another. I was elated to find Mr. Poynter had written a sequel, which the opening quote to this article was taken from. Being in eBook format. I squealed as I waited for the lightening fast transaction to complete so I could go from receipt onscreen to eagerly devouring the pages in my cloud reader app. I did buy the original as well, but it’s only available in print version (or Smashwords, which I didn’t want to deal with)…

To read just a few pages into the sequel and come across such a perfect gem of a quote couldn’t have been better. Mr. Poynter makes an emphatic, no nonsense statement on what’s happened in the publishing arena and why. So true that the traditional publishers harmed themselves by not embracing the digital revolution. They blew that new fangled toy called “the Internet” off as a passing fad that would never be able to touch the big boys.

Not only did the Internet age revolutionize the way books were sold (online v bookstore shelf), it gave new options to both authors and readers. Authors now had the ability to create and nurture their own relationships with book distributors. The advent of Amazon opened doors unimaginable to many. And then someone created digital books…

Traditional publishers were already scrambling to embrace technology. They realized that they needed to bring their catalogs online and quickly. The ease and convenience with which readers were now able to purchase was unmatched, and they never saw it coming. Meanwhile, the digital revolution had begun its progression to the next phase in making reading and buying books easier. The electronic book. Now patrons could purchase a book and start reading it virtually instantly. No more waiting for packages of books to be delivered. They had already all but abandoned trips to the bookstore.

Many smaller traditional publishers could not weather the storm and either folded or were absorbed by a larger publishing house. We ended up with a handful of power houses — publishing houses so large and with such deep pockets that they just knew they could continue to pay little attention to the writing on the wall. Pun intended. They made minor changes simply to have a finger in what was happening, but felt it worth not much more of their attention than that. And they continued to play god in the lives of authors and aspiring authors. They continued to operate like they had all the keys to the castle.

All the while authors and those writers who continued to be rejected made a new discovery — self publishing with ease minus the previous stigma. The advent of the Internet and all the changes it brought about caused a very pleasant turn of events for the self publishing arena. The stigma normally associated with being a self published author was greatly diminished and swiftly vanishing. More and more authors, including nationally recognized best selling authors, were considering and choosing to self publish. And the big boys never saw it coming…

They never thought the Internet would make much impact on the way they did business.

They never thought their loyal customer base would ever change with the tide and start purchasing online.

They never though the invention of the eBook and eReaders would have much impact. People were used to having, and wanted to continue feeling, a “real” book in their hands…

They never thought they would be de-throned by technology.

And their actions, or lack thereof, caused them to be “a victim of its own self importance.”

Dan Poynter said it best. I imagine a publishing world where the coin has been completely flipped in the very near future. Where self publishing is the norm and traditional publishing is the exception. Where writers turn to traditional publishing so they won’t be literally “starving artists” — they will be able to live off the advance given when traditionally published. Where traditional publishers will have to offer all authors advances and better royalties just to get them to sign. You know…much like how the world of self publishing used to be and the author paid hefty fees to get their books published. And then they were labeled. They had “bought” their book publishing. They weren’t good enough to be picked up by a traditional house…

Now the label will be for traditionally published authors. They’ll be labeled as “sell outs,” but only because they chose not to fully live the writer’s life and be a starving artist. It will be a fun label; not one in which their book sales will be hurt for the benefit of the big boys. Their prose won’t be marked substandard simply because they didn’t self publish, as self published authors used to be labeled because they chose to self publish.

Self publishing is here to stay. It’s no longer taboo to be a self published author. Yes, we all still aspire to be “picked up” for now — why wouldn’t any author? However, technology has greatly leveled the playing field and allowed more good authors to release their works. It also created a much larger pool of poor writing to sift through; but that’s an article for a different day…

Time to share…
What is your take on self publishing? Does it still carry the old stigma of being a substandard writer who couldn’t get picked up? Do you plan to self publish — even if you will also attempt to be traditionally published?

Dan Poynter is a well known author and known by many for his Self Publishing Manual. He runs Para Publishing and has a website that offers a wealth of information to authors and aspiring writers. Visit Mr. Poynter at Para Publishing by clicking here.

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3 comments on “My Thoughts on Self Publishing

  1. To be honest, I had never really given much thought to self-publishing until I wrote a book and decided to get it published, lol. So from my point of view, there is absolutely nothing wrong with self-publishing – in fact, it’s really the only option for 99% of the writers out there. I’ve sent my fair share of letters to literary agents, and the worst part wasn’t the “I’m not interested” letters. It was the “I am so swamped with entries that I didn’t even look at your book” ones. Would I like to be traditionally published? It would be nice 😀 But as I understand it, publishing houses nowadays barely even support their authors (in terms of marketing). I think it would take an author who has both self and traditionally published to really say for certain which one is better. As for me, self-publishing all the way!

  2. I agree — experience will be the best predictor of which way is “best;” however, for me self publishing is my goal. I read so much about how much work the author does when traditionally published — equal if not more than a self published author (more due to demands from their publisher). If I still have to do all of the leg work with little to no guidance or direction from my publisher, then why shouldn’t I be my own publisher?

  3. The only problem with self-publishing is the cost :S For example, the publishing package I bought from iUniverse was… get ready to cringe… $2400. Now, that came with the awesome option of getting my books into an actual brick and mortar store for 8 weeks, so that jacked up the price a bit. But like you said, I get to make all the creative decisions, and the finished project is entirely mine, so I think it’s worth it 😀

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