So, it’s finally happened, I must be an academic after all. Nottingham University have introduced a Self-Publishing Masters Degree. For those of you in the US (and beyond) it’s a post-graduate degree in the UK, I’m not sure of the equivalent across the pond. However, it’s seen as a mega-academic qualification here and it’s one level below a doctorate.
What? We’re talking about self-publishing. It’s not a subject to be philosophised about by people wearing cravats and holding cigarette holders. (I don’t know what this has to do with it, by the way, I guess it’s just my idea of an academic) It’s a process. It’s a step-by-step process which you follow and complete. It’s not complicated.
My first thought, when I heard about it, was, ‘well, that’s an easy qualification to add to the list.’ I can’t imagine why anyone would want to take a masters degree in self-publishing. I’m flabbergasted in fact. The whole point of self-publishing is that there’s no rules. It’s do-it-yourself, no one has to qualify you to do it. Do you have masters degrees in cooking? How about car maintenance?
There are a couple of flaws that come to mind. The first is the fact that a masters degree typically takes a year to complete, it must involve a serious amount of essay writing and pontificating about specifics. My argument would be that you could spend that year writing books and attempting to self-publish yourself, learning from your mistakes and finding your own ways, reading blogs, getting involved in the online community of writers who are all in the same boat.
Secondly, the self-publishing landscape is in a constant state of change, as you’d expect given that it’s a new technique and it’s based on technology which is forever developing. Any course will be out-of-date as soon as it’s completed, meaning that the only value a student could take from it would be a general overview of what it’s about.
I don’t often even have an opinion when it comes to things like this, but seriously, if someone wants to spend a major chunk of their life learning how to do something that enables them to do-it-themselves then they’ve missed the point. Self-publishing isn’t about qualifications, it’s about learning a process, learning on-the-job as new people try new things, it’s about experimenting, it’s about being independent, it’s about freedom. Wrapping a course of such magnitude around it is simply going to attract those who aren’t confident enough to publish a book and are looking for any excuse to delay the leap of faith.
Until next time…