Self-Publishing: It’s Not Settling, It’s a Choice

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1133804 by Sigurd Decroos http://www.cobrasoft.be/photography.aspxThough the article is too long and wandering to use in today’s newsletter, there are some salient quotes in Ether for Authors: Is It Time for Publishing to Call a Truce? Porter Anderson quotes Dr. Florian Geuppert of Hamburg-based Books on Demand. The emphasis in both quotes is mine:

We have surveyed 1,800 of our 25,0000 [sic] authors in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Scandinavia … About one-third of the authors we surveyed made a conscious choice against traditional publishing … We can identify three big groups. The first is the hobby authors. Then there are professional writers. And then there are the experts, who use self-publishing to share their expertise—being a coach, being a scientist, being a business person.
All of them across the groups said their reasons for self-publishing are first, creative freedom and control over their rights and content; second, it’s the ease of the process; third, it’s basically fun … and the desire to self-publish is even higher among professional writers.

One third of authors surveyed (by a print-on-demand company, we should note) made self-publishing their first choice.

Does that really mean the other two-thirds settled for something less than their real goal, traditional publishing?

A number of points come to mind:

  1. Don’t settle. If you want a traditional publishing deal, I think you’re wasting your time and effort, but if you still want it, don’t settle. You’ll never ever ship art that’s worth anything if you settle.
  2. Why do the majority of authors who end up self-publishing still consider it a second choice? Do they think they’ll make less money? Earn less fame? Have to work harder? Deliver an inferior product?
  3. Is fun the difference? Is this adventurous spirit where the split happens? Are we looking at, not business choices, but personalities?

Self-publishing is not automatically second-rate, second-class, second choice.

You can help prove this by producing a top quality book: the writing, editing, formatting, design, all of it.

I’m holding myself to a higher standard with all my books next year.

What could you do better with your books?

6 thoughts on “Self-Publishing: It’s Not Settling, It’s a Choice

  1. Thanks for linking to that article. While it was, as you said, too long and wandering, it did contain some interesting information. Probably the most significant was the difference between the viewpoint of Blofeld whose sole concern was around profit and cost and the self publishing authors who were most interested in creative freedom, control, ease, and fun.

    I found your second point about considering self publishing a second choice especially interesting. Instead of the four reasons you listed, I believe that the real reason is prestige. Many self published authors believe that you are not published unless it is by a “real” publisher.

    Last year I published a book for a friend who had been trying to get it published for over 10 years. I believed the manuscript had potential and offered to publish it for him for a share of the profits, no upfront cost at all. He was receptive but the deal fell apart because as an academic he felt it was untoward to do any marketing himself. A few weeks later he contacted me and asked if I would publish the book for a fee. Since this is what I do, I accepted and published the book. It turned out quite well but is selling quite slowly and he is doing no marketing at all. During a recent conversation with him it was clear he did not consider himself published because I’m not a “real” publisher. So, even after making the choice, paying an expert to handle the publishing task, having his book available worldwide, he still isn’t a published author. It’s obvious that he views being self published as a stigma.

    Recently, while reading posts in a publishing blog I frequent, someone posted that it was time that self publishers went away and let “real” publishers handle things. I commented on the post but realize it is a waste of time. And, in reading the last question in your post, I realized that what I can do better with my books is stop wasting time trying to convince anyone of the value of self publishing.

    You are absolutely right, it is a choice. It is my choice and my only responsibility is to create a good book for my readers. I have no responsibility to pacify the anti self publishing malcontents.

    Thanks again for an interesting post.

    1. And thanks for your insightful comment, Bill. I think you’re right about “real” publishing.

      Once or twice I’ve been able to ask folks I could trust to remain calm why they insist on traditional publishing despite the long list of reasons it’s not better than self-publishing. In every case it has come down to “That was my childhood dream.”

      They wanted to “be published” and not to “publish” and that was the whole thought.

      For some, being picked is the most important aspect. My buddy Rick Wilson (a dentist who specializes in brilliant marketing) and I wrote a book called Hits or Niches about why waiting to be picked is so last millennium.

      1. I should add that, yes, what you both refer to is so strangely very “old” thinking, isn’t it?! Wow.

        But–again as you say, it won’t change things; not for a very long time, if at all.

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