A Few Notes about Indie Publishing

One argument against indie publishing is that if you’re an unknown, readers will never find you. The counter to that is if you’re an unknown, the chances that you will get a publishing contract are vanishingly small. Does it make more sense to keep submitting for years in the hope that you’ll eventually hit the jackpot? Or does it make more sense to self-publish and sell at least a few books, while building a readership and a reputation?

Argument for traditional publishing: acceptance by a publisher is validation. It proves the worth of your writing. I won’t belabor the question of worth. We all know how much trash is published via traditional routes. The real question is which is more valuable: validation from publishers or readers? No publisher can guarantee you a readership. If your work appeals to readers and they buy it, then that’s your validation.

Cream rises to the top. But so does anything that’s capable of floating, including shit. Just because your books are wonderful, that doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll make it as a writer. First, there’s the hard work of writing. Second, there’s the hard work of promotion. That’s the modern reality, even for print books from established publishers.

If traditional publishers see the light and make a mass move to ebooks, will that make self-publishing less important? No, it won’t. The same constraints will still exist for writers: finding a publisher, settling for a very small piece of the sales pie, losing control of your rights to your work, seeing your books go out of print and not being able to do anything about it.

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7 thoughts on “A Few Notes about Indie Publishing

  1. “Cream rises to the top. But so does anything that’s capable of floating, including shit.”

    That is the best description I’ve read of the state of the literary world today. There are some really great works that get recognition, and there are some works of excrement that get just as much recognition. As writers, the best thing we can do is continuously hone our craft, finish our manuscripts, publish (in whatever way you choose to), and then begin the real work of promotion, cajoling, and mass marketing your work to anyone who will listen (willingly or unwillingly).

  2. Validation is the reason I’m trying the traditional route, for now at least. I’ve had good feedback on my work so far, but still have this fear that it might be complete crap, no matter how hard I work. Tradition publishing is my barometer. I hope. 😉

  3. Since self-publishing entails massive effort in promotion and promotion works best if done through honest relationship building, it would seem that a successful self-published book would lead to the author having lots more good friends…

  4. Absolutely, Alexander. That’s a topic for another post, but there’s a big difference between trying to shove a book down people’s throats, and establishing connections. I’ve met most of my online friends in connection with blogging and writing.

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