Why you should self-publish – an open letter to my blogging friends
I’ve been following your posts for some time and would like you to consider the spiritually liberating activity of self-publishing. There are a couple of incredibly persuasive reasons to look outside the resource-limited world of traditional publishing.
1. I find your writing, in general, to be more interesting and thought-provoking than much of the material I read in dead tree media. If you can get your writing into the hands of more readers, they would benefit and so would you.
2. 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.
3. Blogging is a good first step in becoming a self-publisher. The feedback you get in your comments is instant, and can be 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.
Watching your visitor logs gives you information on who is interested enough in your writing to make repeat visits to your site. You will quickly learn how different topics change your visitor volume.
4. The most compelling reason to self-publish is to avoid unnecessary rejection. There is nothing so emotionally damaging as inviting rejection and that is built into the traditional publishing model by economic factors they cannot control.
Applying for a job where the employer cannot pay what you are worth is ludicrous. Submitting manuscripts to companies that are frantically searching for a viable business model is worse! If you do not have a personal connection to a publisher, you will waste valuable time and money when you could be developing an audience of readers.
If a publisher is doing well, it is because they have somehow found a customer base for whatever they are currently publishing. The only works that are interesting to them are clones of what they are already publishing.
Traditional publishing is a zero-sum game. 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, in a heartbeat!
5. FINALLY – THERE IS NO SCARCITY OF OUTLETS FOR YOUR WORK!
Get over the idea that your writing is only valuable if it appears in a traditional magazine, collection or whatever. If it is published, it becomes old news by next month. The value of appearing in a well-known publication is rapidly disappearing, especially if the publication cannot be accessed by an Internet search. Your article in the New Yorker or the NY Times becomes birdcage liner in months while your online articles and your searchable books are available to readers for years.
It takes time to develop a market for your work. When you are the publisher, you can make sure the book is available for as long as it takes.
Sell your books on your own website, through Amazon.com, or from the trunk of your car like John Grisham did. Do whatever feels right to you, but don’t spend years waiting for some publisher to recognize the value of your writing. Write and get your work into reader’s hands. Then get working on your next book!
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 in a few months and you will do the same promotional actions as if you had published through a main-stream publishing house.
There is unbelievable satisfaction in having people say, "I heard about your new book!"
Sometimes they even say, "Where can I get one?"
Please take a hard look at self-publishing. You owe it to yourself to do so.