To Self-Publish or not Self-Publish?

It’s funny how much changes in the matter of a year.

This time last year, the Apple iPad had yet to be released. We all wondered just how revolutionary a product it would be.

Initially, people seemed underwhelmed. But if you followed bookish type people on Twitter, you started to see an increasing ripple of excitement. Maybe a healthy dose of fear and uncertainty as well.

While products like Kindle and Sony’s eReader had been out for some time, this was the first time a product was released that was capable not only of being an ebook reader but also of being able to display colour media. For some, this created intense excitement. Some of the products released to date have taken true advantage of the iPad’s abilities. Has anyone seen the official Bram Stoker Family edition of Dracula? Or War of the Worlds? How about Alice in Wonderland?

In the darker days of self-publishing, writers went to horrible expense to get their product into the hands of the public. And most of the time when they did, it was substandard in its print quality.

Not only that, but there was the stigma of being self-published. It was seen as an act of desperation to get a substandard product that wouldn’t be published by any sane Publishing House into the public arena.

But the current eReader products, including iPad, seem to be quickly changing that. And funny enough, the major product category at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was, yup, you guessed it, tablets.

As a self-publisher, you now have multiple options for releasing your product to the public, and most of them at a very low cost (ok, if you’re willing to work at it, you can do it yourself for only the cost of your time).

There is Amazon, Kobo, iBook Store, Smashwords, & so many others. You can produce the book in several formats and sell it through your own website. In short, you now have access to a marketplace of thousands (millions?) of people as opposed to those you can hand a copy from the trunk of your car.

In this new paradigm of self-publishing, it is seen more as a choice of control as opposed to being a substandard product. Numerous authors are moving to ebooks as a method of being able to create their own artwork and pocket a larger percentage of the product’s sales.

In the modern publishing market, authors are largely left to their own devices to market their books. This is the message that comes across time and again when speaking to those in the industry. So as an author, if you’re going to have to have a huge platform online and in bookstores to promote your work for sale, why see only two or three percent of the sales as opposed to seventy to one-hundred percent?

I think what appeals to me the most about self-publishing is that I control every aspect of the book. In traditional publishing, you put all this work into crafting the words, just to have someone else decide on the font, cover art, bio, author pic, etc. As someone who is very visual, I think I would completely lose my mind if I had no say in my cover.

There is something immensely satisfying in the idea of creating the words, creating the images, choosing all physical aspects of the work and then seeing it out into the world for release. Every sale is like a victory of the hard work of the author.

But there’s an ego thing with being traditionally published. Being able to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelves (without me having gone in there previously with self-pubbed copies) is very appealing and a form of validation that I’ll have to do serious soul searching to decide if I can live without.

So what do you think? Is self-publishing rising from the less reputable position it’s held for years? What would your choice be?

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3 Comments

  1. You’re right, there is an ego aspect of being picked up by a traditional publisher. In the same vein one traditionally and self-published author recently suggested that it’s actually traditional publishing that is the ‘vanity’ model.

    Self-published really does work for many, and progressive full-service options like Outskirts Press are blending the advantages of traditional with self-publishing, helping authors achieve the greatest potential success.

    http://www.outskirtspress.com

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Justus R Stone » Blog Archive » To Self-Publish or not Self-Publish? -- Topsy.com

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