Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Myths of Self-Publishing

Dear Dead Beat,

I belong to a writer's club and sometimes you can get worthwhile feedback from others in such a setting. Sometimes some people can't get past their prejudices either, so watch out. What about self-publishing? There have been some big successes going this route? Would you recommend it? I have an other questions. How do you cope with lack of support and understanding from the people you live with? What do you do when the person you live with tells you that you should not be wasting your time, or it is too late for you? When they harp at you to give it up, and any success you have is berated and never enough to change their mind. What do you say to well meaning people who advise you to see what is out there selling and write like that or make art like that. As an artist and a writer, I get that all the time.

Dear Writer,

Dead Beat hears well what you are saying re writers groups (see Writer’s Workshops). Participants need to be able to critique other people’s work and quite frankly most are not skilled enough in this area. So, Dead Beat concurs - Watch Out!

As for self-publishing, Dead Beat is always a little wary. The point of critiquing other peoples’ work in workshops is mainly to learn to develop the skills to become a self-critic. Herein lies the rub. It is hard to be a self critic. No matter how skilful we are with other people’s work it is harder to be as detached with our own and we are frequently blinded. Thus we can be tempted to publish before we are really ready (see The Business of Rejection). It would be a shame to publish work before it is really completed. Also it is very hard to get distribution, promotion etc. Thus it is hard to reach a wide audience. This is not to say it should not be done but be wary.

The big successes in this route are in fact few and far between. There are many myths out there about this. And while yes there are some names to be mentioned, there are far far far more to be mentioned from the non-self published side. But it can be a stepping stone.

Now I know there are some more questions to be answered, and Dead Beat will return to them. Enough to ponder on for today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The most important thing about self-publishing is to have confidence in what you are publishing. It may not be the best work in the world but it is your work. You have to shut out the voices of the nay-sayers and critics (most of whom have never written a book) and go for it. The worst you can do is fail but you will learn enough to try again.

The other, extremely important, thing is that self-publishing is expensive. There are some alternatives like Lightning Source that will publish books on demand and get it on to Amazon. While it is a lot cheaper than actually publishing your own books and getting distribution deals, the royalties are lower.

As a writer, you may consider yourself an artist. But as a publisher you are in business.

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