I definitely used to judge self-published novels. I think we all did. Honestly, I hadn’t reevaluated this position in quite some time until I recently started reading about self published authors. Somehow, I missed the whole self publishing boom and ebook revolution and whatnot in terms of self publishing. Of course I’d heard about how the Kindle was going to single handedly destroy the publishing industry, but I hadn’t heard of Amanda Hocking or J. A. Konrath (the go-to success stories of the self publishing revolution) until this January. Yeah, I’m retroactively surprised by this as well.
For a long time most of the self published works I’d read were Pride & Prejudice sequels. Because I read a lot of them and since they’re a fairly niche genre, I wasn’t surprised plenty of them were self published and ignored it. But recently I’ve stepped into plenty of new kinds of books -YA, fiction, fantasy – that is self published, not at all to niche to be traditionally viable, and good.
Obviously, self publishing’s new dare I say it, cool image has everything to do with ebooks. Printing on demand based self publication is more expensive and more difficult to market, while an ebook is cheap and something you can have instantaneously. As many before me have said, you’re much more willing to take on a story, even a self published one, if it’s cheap or free.
I think I used to believe was self publishing was expensive, no just for the consumer, but for the author as well. I had some vague notion of going to a business with a physical printing press and paying them to print your book and then tricking someone on Amazon to sell it there. Then, if you’re lucky, you sell a few copies and watch your pennies multiply.
When I realized this was not the case, that it is as simple and free as uploading a document and some cover art to amazon, my world changed. Like literally everyone else in the world, I have notions of writing and being published some day. But between myself and that time lay a) *cough* actually writing the book *cough* and b) sending it out to publishers repeatedly, possibly for several hundred years before someone agrees to publish it.
That is gone now. Whether I write something or not, the fact that I could puke out 300 pages of text, mix something up on Photoshop and click “publish” and have a book for sale on Amazon is AMAZING. It’s a terrific motivator. With that knowledge, the stigma vanished in my mind. I feel completely different about self publishing now, at least as it applies to me and the books I read.
Some of the stigma persists, though, and honestly it’s not impossible to see why. Some self published books just aren’t good. Just like some traditionally published books aren’t good, except perhaps in greater number. This lack of quality in self published books is also more often linked to simple spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, terrible fake dialogue, and horrible cliche plot structure rather than the more “It was well written but I hated it” response to traditionally published books.
But to me, this group of poorly written self published books does not taint the well of self publishing in general. I like reading self published books, following the blogs of self published authors, and reading about it in general. If I actually wrote a book, I think I may send out a few agent queries about it – but then, only to gauge interest. I think i would prefer to self publish. I can say this in part because I’m assuming that the best response I could hope for was “It’s a great concept, but we’re not accepting new authors now.” If an agent were to actually offer me a deal, I would probably a)die and b)accept immediately. But since that’s incredibly unlikely, I think I would write my queries until I got a few positive responses (I might not even do this considering how lazy I am and how little patience for waiting I have) and then upload it to Amazon. I like the control of Self Publishing. I like the direct relationship to your work and readers.
What do you think about self publishing? Have your views about it changed? Do you yourself self publish?