Scarcity is an interesting trap. If somebody makes something
"scarce", it can appear more valuable than it actually is. Your
attention becomes riveted on the "scarcity" rather than looking for available alternatives.
(This was written a few years ago and it is even more true today. With
the current state of the Internet, the barriers to self-publishing or
starting a business are significantly reduced.)
When there is the prospect of getting your CD or book published, an artificially created scarcity can keep one fixated on
something that is unlikely to happen. There are saner ways to proceed.
Look at the role of scarcity in maintaining control of
traditional publishing. There are millions of people who write and only
a handful of publishers who have figured out the keys to getting their
books in bookstores.
Well, traditional publishers used to be the only real outlets for a writer, but that is no longer the case. There is no shortage of publishers who can print an excellent quality book and ship it to customers on demand.
With a little work, you can see your work in print and on
Amazon.com. You can generate sales without having to rely on
traditional publishers or bookstores.
Bookstores are another example of scarcity. There is only so much
room and they must stock what their customers will buy. As an unknown,
your books will only appear in a bookstore if you or your friends bring
books to the store.
If you sell online and offer free shipping, why would anyone need to find your book in a bookstore?
Today there are tens of thousands of writers who write well enough
to command a following of readers. The vast majority of them seem to be
caught up in the maddening hamster wheel activity of writing,
submission, and rejection by companies that have no way of profitably
publishing their work.
I’ve been following the literary efforts of some dear and talented
friends for some time and have wanted to whack them gently alongside
their heads to get them to wake up and see the possibilities they are
ignoring. Some are online, some are not, but they all are transfixed by
the traditional dream of being "published".
There are some incredibly persuasive reasons to look outside the
resource-limited world of traditional publishing, if your writing is
more interesting and thought-provoking than most of the material you
read in "mainstream" publications:
1. When you
publish your own work, you gain an immense amount of real experience as
to what your market is. You also get honest feedback that helps you
determine what to do to get more people reading your work.
2. Blogging is the first step in becoming a self-publisher. The
feedback you get in your comments and from watching website visitor
logs is instant and brutally or refreshingly honest.
You can use this
to good advantage in developing a public awareness of your work and a
community of people who are interested in seeing that you succeed. They
will buy your book and, more importantly, they will tell others about
your writing because it is interesting information that they are the
first to hear about.
3. There is nothing so psychologically destructive as inviting
Applying for a job when the company cannot pay
what you are worth is ludicrous. Submitting manuscripts to companies
that are frantically searching for a viable business model is worse.
a publisher is doing well, it is because it has found a
customer base for whatever it is currently publishing. The only works
that will interest them are clones of what they are already publishing.
4. THERE IS NO SCARCITY OF OUTLETS FOR YOUR WORK!
Get over the idea
that your piece is only valuable if it appears in a traditional
magazine, collection or whatever. The only value of appearing in a well-known
publication is the immediate visibility. Once it is published, it becomes old
news by next month.
publishing is a zero-sum game (If someone else gets published, you don’t get published). If a known author with a track record of
sales has something to release, a traditional publishing house would be
crazy to publish something by an unknown instead.
If you were
publishing, you would do the same. With limited production capability, you would choose the popular "brand" to sell, not the "unknown" brand.
As a self-publisher, you can publish your work in small quantities as I did, or you can
use a POD publisher. Either way, your work will be available for people
to buy it and you will do the same promotional actions as if you had
published through a main-stream publishing house. There are unlimited
outlets for your writing, all you have to do is use them.
There is unbelievable satisfaction in having people say, "I heard about your new book!"
Sometimes they even say, "Where can I get one?"
If you really want people to read your work, please take a hard look
at self-publishing. You owe it to yourself to do so. There is no
justification for a good piece of writing to remain unpublished. I have also proved to my own satisfaction that self-publishing caused a
traditional publisher to license my work after I proved that a market
existed for it.
This article applies to almost every form of publishing including music on CDs or MP3 files and artistic works of all kinds. You can reach customers all over the world if you use the Internet wisely.