Bob Baker's Book Promotion Blog
Attack of the Self-Publishing Naysayers
Kent Larsen left a comment regarding my post "Self-Publish to Attract a Traditional Publisher." I decided to respond to it in this separate post. Please note, if my comments seem harsh, they're not directed at Kent. I appreciate the fact that he took time to respectfully comment.But I'm not going to beat around the bush with this topic. There are far too many aspiring authors who buy into self-defeating beliefs about their ability to successfully publish a book on their own -- and I feel compelled to offer a different perspective.
Kent starts off with ...
I'm not sure I would say that self-publishing is an "ideal" way to reach traditional publishers. I see at least two problems with self-publishing: 1. There are a lot of companies that prey on self-published authors, selling them services that, they say, will get their books sold or better known. Some of the so-called "Print-on-Demand" publishers (really vanity publishers that use POD) are particularly egregious.
True. There are a number of "publishing" companies out there that do more harm than good when it comes to getting an author's work into the world. No doubt. There are also a lot of unethical car salesman in the world, but that doesn't mean I won't drive because of it. So I'm not following the logic here.
I totally agree with Kent in that I would rarely advocate someone using what I call a "service provider, book packager" publisher. These companies make money selling services to authors, NOT selling books. If you just want a one-stop source to get your book printed and can live with ridiculously high per-book "author prices" that will never allow you to make much money, then one of these services might work for you. (Although, from what I hear, BookLocker and iUniverse are two of the best bets.)
But if you truly want to self-publish, that means you "do it yourself." You form your own publishing company (which really isn't that complicated), purchase your own set of ISBNs, shop for and hire your own designer, editor, printer, etc.
Mr. Larsen continues ...
2. All self publishing has a poor reputation in the industry. Booksellers often assume, without reading, that any self-published book isn't worth reading, let alone stocking in their stores.
Kent's statement presupposes that authors should give a damn about what booksellers think of their books. As self-publishing guru Dan Poynter says, "Bookstores are lousy places to sell books." I've been a full-time self-published author for three years, and I've never concerned myself with retailers or what industry people think. My only concern from day one has been what readers think of my book. And guess what? They don't care who put out your book. They only care what benefit it delivers for them.
When was the last time you heard a friend say, "I wonder what new books Random House put out this month?" Probably never. But you have heard, "I wonder when Stephen King's new book will be out?" Why? Because people buy books based on the author and/or what the content promises to deliver. In fact, I'll bet that 99.9% of Stephen King's fans couldn't tell you who publishes his books. They don't care.
Stop obsessing about booksellers and the industry. And start putting a focus on readers and fans!
Another important thing: This negative self-publishing stigma is outdated and quickly eroding. It's a new world. Wake up and smell the megapixels. Indie music is huge, indie films are all the rage, and indie publishing is catching up too. Don't be left behind with an antiquated belief system. If someone you encounter has a problem with your book because it was primarily produced by you, don't waste your time with them. Move along to the next opportunity, because there are plenty of them out there.
Kent also writes ...
Self-published authors usually have to do quite a lot of work to overcome this disadvantage.
Once again, I question the "disadvantage" label, but regarding the work part ... Yup. Anything in life worth doing takes time, energy and effort. So I'm not getting out my violin just yet. Next.
I'm NOT suggesting that your comment is off the mark. Many self-published authors have found traditional publishing deals because they self-published. But if it is more than a fraction of 1%, I would be shocked.
I'll respond to this by pointing you to John Kremer's excellent Self-Publishing Hall of Fame page.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to artificially pump up would-be authors. But I refuse to join in the self-publishing doom-and-gloom chorus. I agree that, with the ease of putting a book out these days, there's a lot of crap in the pipeline. Yes, it's a noisy marketplace. Yes, it's rare for an author of any type (traditional or self-published) to make enough money to live off of. Yada yada yada. The same can be said for any industry.
Here's what I prefer to focus on: There are independently published voices that have something to say, that break through the clutter, that achieve impressive levels of success. Why discourage someone from taking that leap and giving it their best shot?
Again, I'm not trying to be harsh or get personal with my responses here. It's obviously something I'm passionate about, and I hope my little rant inspires you to at least think differently about your role as an author and your rightful place in the indie book world.
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