Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On self-publishing...

If you are not involved in the writing/publishing industry you may not be aware of the controversy surrounding authors who self-publish and those whose books are released by publishing houses (such as Penguin, Harlequin, and many smaller houses).  

Authors who self-publish are sometimes called "indies" (as in 'independently published) while those whose books are released by publishers are referred to as having been 'traditionally published'. (note: sometimes traditionally-published authors whose publishing houses are very small, are also called 'indies'.)
FFP-international indie authors with attitude

Many think that people shouldn't publish their own books because the books are likely really crappy.  The thinking is that books released by publishers are undoubtedly much better because the publisher has chosen it over many other submissions and it was edited and proofed by professionals before being published.  

Although critics don't deny that there are good self-published books out there, they say there are very few.  They say everyone who knows how to keyboard thinks s/he's a a great novelist and the vast majority of self-published books are terrible. (Much like contestants on American Idol thinking they can sing).  

Many high-profile and well-respected names in the writing and publishing industry advise writers NOT to self-publish, saying a self-published book is an advertisement that it isn't good enough for a publisher, that self-publishing is a waste of time and money, and that it ruins an author's chance at future success.

This controversy is rapidly heating up because it is becoming increasingly easy and financially feasible to self-publish.  

I self-published THE TRAZ  shortly before SCHRÖDINGER'S cAT was traditionally published by WolfSinger Publications

Here's what I have to say:

My best friend is a tremendous actress and is quite popular on stage with the local theatre troop. My daughter is a splendid singer and competed in several talent contests and often did karaoke in the bars.  One of her fellow competitors/performers here from St. Paul, Brett Kissel, has attained a measure of success in the singing industry while Tracy decided to pursue a different career.

In his younger days, my son and his buddies created a rock band. They made over $2,000 at their one-and-only concert. At good portion of that was made from the sale of of T-shirts and hoodies with their band logo.

My neighbour sings beautifully and performed with her son and his band and they cut a CD.  Wow. Wonderful.

My sister sells her ceramic ware at the local craft fairs and farmer markets, sometimes at the same sales as my Audrey sells the purses and bags she makes.  I love the jewelry one of my fellow curlers creates.  Her products are always popular this time of year.

All of the above fine artists are unashamedly exhibiting and marketing their crafts--not waiting to be vetted by those in the know but confidently and happily pursuing their creative dreams. Their skills are encouraged and appreciated and supported by their families and communities, not stifled and criticized and compared unfavourably to the professionals in their fields.

I self-publish.

For a look at some very successful and wonderful 'indie' writers and their novels, check out The Famous Five Plus

Eileen Schuh, Canadian writer www.eileenschuh.com


Chicki Brown said...

Love this post, and I love what you said about your creative family and friends.

When you get a minute, drop by my blog and read the quote from Kindle million seller John Locke. http://sisterscribbler.blogspot.com/2011/09/writer-wednesday.html

Alison E. Bruce said...

There are people who say that traditionally published books are better by definition. I suspect they are favoured for the same reason that so many people favour Tim Horton's or Starbuck's over indie coffeshops. It isn't that the product is better, it just has a more predictable quality.

As an entrepreneur and former micro-publisher, I like having a publisher so I don't have to do every by myself. It's hard enough writing and promoting while holding down a couple of other jobs. At the same time, I respect authors who take the DIY route just as I look for inviting indie coffeeshops when I'm travelling.

Eileen Schuh: said...

Thanks for visiting, ladies.

Yes, Chicki, I'll happily return the honour & visit your site.

Those are very astute comments, Alison. I definitely agree that having a publisher reduces both the time and dollars one must invest in publishing. It also helps authors to have someone who knows the business collaborating with them on promotion, marketing, selling.

However, as you may have guessed from my intro to this piece, I don't believe many readers shop by publisher. Although people may know they bought their coffee at Starbucks, not many can tell you who published their favourite book. People in general shop by title or author or genre. Not one reader from outside the industry has shown any interest in who it is that published my books.

It would be nice for indie authors to have the industry onside so that they can get the reviews, the recognition, the awards, the catalogue placement, the availablity to libraries/classrooms, and other such privileges that tradtionally-published authors receive.

Although it's not known whether or not the industry will change its attitude toward those who self-publish, it appears authors have.

Across all media, I'm hearing authors quite proudly declaring themselves indie/self-published.

Eileen Schuh: said...

If this topic interests you, definitely check out Chicki's blog.


Red said...

I have come to recognize I prefer self-published and indy works. They have a fresher approach, necessarily not edited to fit into "publisher predictable quality". Just as I listen to diverse music, I like to read from the author, not the publisher's idea of what the author should have meant to say.
2 more cents,

Eileen Schuh: said...

Thanks, Red, for visiting and sharing your opinion. It's encouraging to hear from readers who appreciate indie literature.