It’s something that is often met with a derisory look when you mention that you’re going to self-publish a book. It still has a reputation for being the easy route, or dare I say it, the failures route. Traditional publishing contracts have the same level of acceptance as a record deal for a musician, and these milestones are easily identified by the public as a sign that you’re doing well.
On the contrary, when you tell people that you’ll be self-publishing their immediate reaction is to assume that you’re not good enough to get a proper deal. You then spend the next five minutes justifying why you’re self-publishing and you’d be lucky if any of the explanation changed that person’s opinion of you.
Downsides of Self-Publishing
The great part of self-publishing is that anybody can do it, and the bad part of self-publishing is that anybody can do it. There is no filter in place by definition and so unfortunately any old dross can get put out there, and does. How can a reader be assured of quality when your book’s in the same haystack as everything else?
Self-publishing means self-promotion too. One of the benefits of traditional publishers is that they will promote your book for you. We all know that the reality of this in the current environment is maybe less than it used to be but it’s still there.
Self-publishing means self-editing. The reason that so much dross is out there is that fellow authors do not spend enough time having their books edited for quality purposes. If we want to be treated the same as traditionally published authors then our work needs to be strong enough to stand alongside it.
So why am I trusting it?
The industry is changing. It is increasingly more difficult to get picked up by a publisher if you are an unknown author with no track record. The market is saturated by celebrity biographies, and big name novelists. There are very few new authors coming through the traditional route. Also, the money in the budget to support new authors has been cut, therefore limiting the promotional opportunities that were mentioned previously.
I will have my books edited thoroughly and I will have a professional cover illustration because this is the minimum that I must do to be taken seriously. But the real reason I’m trusting the self-publishing route to work for me is actually to just get my work out there.
If I was not to do this then I would spend, potentially years, writing books and churning out work that would never see the light of day. I would send the odd enquiry to an Agent or Publisher but that would be it. The main benefit of self-publishing for me is the development that I will gain as a writer. My books will be reviewed, feedback given, and I will gradually understand my market, my readers, and my weaknesses.
I will then be able to write better books and become a better writer, and if a point then comes in the future where a traditional publisher notices my work, I am in a much stronger position to make a decision.
A successful band will play gigs in clubs for a few years, gradually improving and building up a core fan base, and then they will be noticed by a Record Company and move up a level. Writing now has a similar path to success and this is why I believe that it will work for me.
Why do you trust the self-publishing route?