A few more points, my friends, about why you might consider self-publishing … if/when you’re ready.
Here you’ll find some statements (in boldface) culled from arguments in a recent Call of the Siren post against self-publishing (“Self-publish, are you crazy?”).
Each is followed by a paragraph-length rebuttal that (I hope) provides some understanding … and maybe some inspiration, too.
- Publishers have better promotional channels than you.
Ok, publishers do have promotional infrastructures, but they actually can’t (and won’t) promote every title they represent. And even when you’re one of the lead titles in a publisher catalog, self-promotion still seems necessary. You’ll always be the most passionate advocate for your own work. It’s breathtaking how many mid-tier books appear in catalogs, arrive in galley form followed by the finished hardcover, and then disappear … without a sound. Those writers, I think, made assumptions about what their publishers would do for them — and paid the price for it.
- If you’re published by a mainstream publisher, you’re legit.
I feel sorry for the North Carolina six-day poet laureate. Maybe the rest of the poetry community felt snubbed that a self-published author had been chosen and just couldn’t stand it — even though the publishing marketplace is woefully small even for established poets with some kind of following. Self-publication isn’t a reason to dismiss or discredit someone, especially a poet. If that were true, then I guess we should add Czeslaw Milosz, Joseph Brodsky, and other former dissidents to that list. After all, self-publication — samizdat — was the only means available to them in the Soviet Union.
And let’s not forget what John Ashbery thinks about e-publishing. One of our preeminent American poets today, Ashbery actually likes how his poetry looks on an e-reader. Years ago, fonts and formatting were terribly bland and impersonal. But today, as resources have improved, another strike against self-publishing’s digital side has been removed. Ashbery isn’t self-publishing, of course — he’s still one of the few poets carried by a major publisher — but his attitude to digital versions of his work is something encouraging for any self-published writer.
- The only real money is in mainstream publishing.
I still don’t trust the claims made by some self-published authors about their monthly incomes. You shouldn’t either. But I’d tell you to embrace a little skepticism when it comes to money in traditional publishing, too. That doesn’t mean that writing a book today can’t be profitable for you. It can. In fact, earning enough to live as a writer seems possible if you start with small expectations, especially when established writers, like novelist Will Self, are reporting in publications including The Guardian a serious decline in royalties (once the bread and meat of a writer’s regular living).
- Self-published vs. firm-published
There are plenty of other recent posts and articles on this topic — it’s hard for me to keep up. Consider this post, like the others on this topic at Call of the Siren, as the blogger’s version of a starter kit.
Not long ago, above all the noise and chatter about self-publishing, I heard a loud voice that belonged to agent Michael Larsen, a colleague of my friend Jim Rossi who’s been assisting him on his own self-publishing journey. Jim passed along something that forced me to ask myself, Why do you write? I kept thinking about this question as I read through Larsen’s “Declaration of Independence for Writers,” and I think you should, too. It will help you keep your focus on what should matter most to any writer: taking advantage of a multitude of media platforms today to share a special vision with sympathetic readers.
Take care, my friends. Onward!