Total Pageviews

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Changing the public opinion of self-publishing


An author colleague said something today to spark this blog post. I am in the middle of planning a blog tour at the moment, but this comment really got into my brain, and wouldn’t let go, so I had to leave the blog tour planning and let the fingertips pound the keyboard to get it out of my system.

My friend has recently had a piece of work published, but when she told me about it she qualified her statement as follows -
‘At least I can say now I have had something published that isn’t self-published.’

Her statement got me thinking about the poor rap that self-publishing has. To link this back to my planning for the blog tour, I have researched literally hundreds of bloggers over the past few weeks, and I wish I had kept some statistics, because the overwhelming majority state in their policies that they won’t review self-published authors.

Most are also quite vocal about the reasons why - the generally poor standard of self-published work puts readers and bloggers off, and they don’t want to waste their precious time. And I can’t blame them. I have read a lot of such work over the past few years, and although I am self-published myself, I think I would be almost inclined to not want to review self -pubs either, unless they could convince me that they had been professionally edited.

It is a shame really, because many self-published authors do take pride in their work and give it the care and attention it needs, even if it means waiting many more months to get their work out there. When a self-publishing author takes the time to edit, prepare and choose their publisher wisely, it can be very difficult to tell a self-pub from a traditionally published book.

I read a quote earlier this year by author Adrienne Thompson - “Being self-published makes me no less ‘published’ than the authors who are with publishing companies.” The dictionary defines to ‘publish’ as to issue printed or textual material for sale or distribution to the public. It means the same thing whether an author does it themselves or whether a large company does it for you. The end result is a paper or publication made available to the public.

The final thought my friend’s comment left me with was this - society generally applauds people who do things their way - think of the famous Sinatra song - ‘I did it my way.’ We encourage the artist and even the writer to develop their own style, but when it comes to publishing it, there is only one way deemed to be the authentic way. I think it comes from the idea that a person’s work has little value unless someone else recognises it and tells the world about it.

What can self-published authors do to turn thinking around? Continue to strive to raise the bar on the standard of self-published work. Don’t be hasty to see your book in the public arena. Take time to have it edited. Be willing to take criticism on board and consider it before rejecting it out of hand. Hopefully in time, with patience and perseverance, self-pubs will be able to turn public opinion around, and self-publishing will be seen to be the move of a courageous author, rather than a desperate act by an untalented ‘wanna-be’.

13 comments:

  1. Absolutely brilliant blog piece Kerry! So very true. It's sad how self-published authors are 'put down' without being given a go. Isn't that the Australian way...give them a go? I hope it changes, but with the views of some people the way they are, it might take awhile.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Brenda. I think it can change, but it won't happen overnight unfortunately. Thankfully there are some wonderful people and services out there willing to give self-pubs a go. It sometimes takes a while to track them down, but they're there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well said. There are wonderful self-published books out there, but a year or so ago someone gave me a free copy of their novel.

    It was over-written to the point of making it hard to read. I made some suggestions to refine it, but the budding author never responded and never contacted me again.

    One of the first lessons I learnt when studying acting was 'You are there for the audience. The audience isn't there for you'.

    So if you are self-publishing ask yourself - 'Do I really want my best work out there or do I just want to be known as an author?'

    Another friend let me read the first chapter of a book he was writing, but his writing repeated the same points over and over again. I suggested a good assessor, but he didn't want anyone else to touch his work saying that he would be the only one to critique it. Oh please!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your thoughts. It’s very difficult to submit your book to an impartial reader such as an editor, but it is vital if you want your ‘best work out there’. It is a difficult thing to listen to someone else pick at the faults in something that you have labored over lovingly for so long. Each time I received a new chapter edit back from my editor and opened the document, I saw the comments and marks all over it and it was as if someone had thrust a knife into my heart. However, I went through all the corrections and suggestions and adopted probably 99% of them. When I read each chapter again after editing, it was as if a ton of dead wood had been pruned out and the sentences flowed so much better. So, editing is painful - there is no escaping it - but I felt so much better afterwards knowing I had a crisp, clean manuscript.

      Delete
  4. This is so true. I've been writing for years and after getting very close to getting an agent I've decided to self-publish my novel - and not because I feel it's second best. I relish the idea of being in control of every aspect, but I'm fully aware of the time and effort that I've already put in (editing, listening and acting on constructive criticism etc.) and the work that I still have to do (proof reading, marketing...) to make my novel as good as possible. Best of luck with your blog tour!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for your thoughts Kate. Yes, it's good that you are aware of how much time it takes to produce a good quality product - and if you self publish, the time will increase ten-fold when you have it published in terms of promotion and marketing, that finding time to write the next masterpiece is a problem ... but that's another story.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Kerry! Thank you so much for this post, it certainly made an impact on me. My self published middle grade fantasy will be released shortly. Since there has been much discussion of late, regarding this topic, I have been watching and listing to all opinions and comments. However, if an author believes that what he/she is offering is important enough, they will rise to the occasion and find the courage to publish by themselves, if necessary. I feel I do have something different and of interest. I would like to entertain as well as educate. My adventure will introduce young people to endangered animals of Australia via an exciting adventure. I do hope you have time to check it out. Thanks again for your kind words and support. Best, Jeanne
    http://warriorechidna.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Jeanne for your comments. Your site looks interesting - I have signed on to follow. I will check it out more thoroughly at my leisure.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for your blog post. As a self-published author, I see the attitude of some who are not willing to let go of negative prejudices. As Brenda pointed out, it is an Australian ideal to give people a fair go. Why is it so intolerable for some to extend this to self-published authors? Why cannot these writers be given an equal chance to those who go down the traditional pathway, and have their work judged solely on its merits?
    Attitudes seem to be changing overseas, however.

    ReplyDelete
  9. As a self-published author, I've seen the negative prejudice against us. As Brenda points out, it's the Australian way to give people a fair go. Why is it so hard for people to reconsider, and realise that there are quite legitimate reasons for authors to choose to self publish, and that it is not necessarily a reflection of lack of talent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your thoughts Margaret. It can be a frustrating process for self-pubs but fortunately there are some people out there willing to look at our work before making judgements. By the way, it's nice to meet another Aussie author.

      Delete
  10. Coming in late here. But the best thing (self published) INDIE authors can do is to have a professional editor, covers made professionally and do not rush to go INDIE. I'm published in print and ebook and I am much more happy with my upcoming novel than my last two with a small press publisher. WHY? The editing wasn't rushed and I hired a professional editor.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm with you, Suzanne. Spend the time and money to get it done properly if you want your work to be taken seriously (and you as an author).

    ReplyDelete