There’s lots of discussion going on about self-publishing for authors at the moment. Over at Apex Online, Maurice Broaddus talks about why he’s resisted the temptations of self-publication:
I know the temptation of going the self-publishing route. I have a novel that I’ve shopped around, but have been rejected. I believe in the book, I want to see it in print, but I won’t self-publish it. The rejections have taught me that the book isn’t ready. Self-publishing would mean that I would have a bad (at worse) or prematurely released (at best) novel on my resume.
Self-publishing if fine if you’re a hobbyist and just want to see your name in print. It’s fine if you have a small niche you wish to reach. It’s also fine if you have a guaranteed audience that you can get product to. I know a few writers with dedicated fan bases for whom it made perfect sense to self-publish a project. It’s your career choice. Do your research.
The prevailing wisdom is that self-publication is a mistake for an aspiring author, though attitudes are relaxing in some quarters as times change. Here’s Jeff VanderMeer laying out the situations in which he thinks it can be beneficial:
I self-published my first fiction collection, The Book of Frog, and also The Surgeon’s Tale & Other Tales (with Cat Rambo)–the context for each consistent with my views on self-publishing as it exists today. If you can’t get traction in the publishing world with a first collection despite having had stories in good publications, I think it’s okay to self-publish. If you’ve got books out from major publishers and you want to do a less commercial project, I think it’s okay to self-publish. That said, within five to ten years, self-publishing in general will probably lose its stigma altogether and we’ll have a situation closer to what you find in indie music.
Self-publishing’s image is tarnished primarily because it gets used as a short-cut to publication for writers who – to be nice about it – simply aren’t yet up to writing a decent book. The obvious defence to that accusation is that not all unpublished writers are bad writers, and that’s certainly true… but I know from my editing work that the overwhelming majority certainly are.
So, as Jeff points out, things will be come much like the indie music circuit: the barriers to participation and distribution will be much lower, but it’ll be no easier to sell your work to people if you’re just not writing what people want to read (or writing it very well). Perhaps that will raise the profile of reliable reviewers and critics? A medium operating under the economics of abundance has a greater need for aggregators and gatekeepers to filter the infinity of choices, after all.
Any of you lot read any good self-published books that don’t deserve the stigma? And are there any self-published authors who’d like to share their experiences?