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Self-Publishing–the ‘DIY’ Approach

Posted by CW64 on October 18, 2009

Believe it or not, self-publication is an older concept in a much-involved industry, but it has been gaining momentum in recent years.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

When one thinks about it, it’s actually both.

Huh?? you might think.

First, self-publication is, simply, the notion of an author publishing her or his own material, which is an ideal and tantalizing concept, indeed. Several sites exist on the promotion and support of this idea, because it has currently become necessary and—dare I say it—a popular one (For those who are interested in seeking more information on this, go here and here ). This not only involves writing and editing one’s work, but also marketing it, and that includes layout, promotion, advertising, typesetting, printing, cover creations (art design or photography, or a combination of both), and, of course, the vending process, all of which collectively can be tedious, time-consuming and quite expensive.

But is it worth it?

When one weighs the prospect of spending money that one doesn’t have (and, believe me, for writers, that’s a common status) or remaining unpublished, that is a tough call, especially when one is desperately seeking an audience—one thing writers really need and want for their respective voices to be effective.

So, is self-publication the answer?

Well, it depends . . .

Each work, like each person, is different, so the solution falls on what is necessary for the particular piece and is convenient and feels right for the particular author. For example, a book requiring a limited circulation wouldn’t appeal to a major publishing house, yet might be within the price range for a low-income writer. Of course, other cases involve works that garner constant rejections (‘wallpapering’ has become a common pastime among struggling writers) but whose author feels strongly about her or his work’s potential. Sometimes self-publishing might be the only answer.

Also consider that many now-famous writers once self-published at the beginning of their careers, among them Mark Twain and Stephen King. With company such as this, any writer would find it hard to deny the validity of getting a work and a career off the ground through self-publication.

Some people in the writing and publishing industries, however, do find self-publication objectionable, or at least questionable. A few hold the attitude that if works are constantly being rejected, there must be a reason, right? The claim that many self-published books are, in a word, ‘garbage’, is not entirely without its merits, even though this is not an absolute by any means. Some critics even insist that writers are not truly and respectably published unless done so through another registered publication. Still, many writers who would have remained unknown have gained success through the ‘DIY’ process, and have sold themselves impressively well.

Self-publication, however, can quite possibly serve as a stepping stone toward publication by other publishers who otherwise would not have been able to see a writer’s name or work.

Whether or not the pros and cons for self-publication create an even balance remains to be seen; what is seen is that self-publishing is growing and becoming a thriving industry all its own.

Several sites, such as Lulu and Triond , have dedicated themselves to assist writers interested in self-publishing online. These offer a platform for writers to get started, while other sites, like Self-publishing.com, provide a wide selection of books and supplies, ongoing news, and advice from experts and established writers.

All of these and countless other resources can prepare writers for publication in any number of ways.

In the end, deciding to self-publish requires forethought. Writers who act rash and/or who aren’t yet developed enough in their skill can cause damage to themselves and their careers, not to mention lose money in the process. Care and caution must be employed at all times; self-publication, just as publishing in the traditional sense, is a serious step to take.

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5 Responses to “Self-Publishing–the ‘DIY’ Approach”

  1. jules said

    I like it.Keep it going,please.

    • CW64 said

      It’s nice to see that others appreciate my musings in writing. 🙂

      As it appears now, my schedule and current medical issues will not allow me to post every single day, so I am looking at three times a week, about every other day. Rest assured, the musings will keep flowing; they are a veritable endless fountain.

      By the way, you should get this message in your email where you can subscribe and answer from there as oppose to coming to the blog. I am not sure if there is another way of ‘joining’ (i.e. subscribing), but Brenda apparently did, so there must be.

  2. I agree with most of what you have written except for your comment that there is a foundation (my words) to those who think those who self-publish do so because they are not good enough to find a traditional publisher. As you and I have discussed, traditional publishers are publishing fewer and fewer books which pushes unknown authors to seek self-publishing. Certainly there are poorly written self-published books–I have gotten some as review copies–but there are also many good ones.

    Also, there are two sides of self-publishing one which involves an author setting up his own publishing house. This is what many like to refer to as “true self-publishing.” Paying someone else to do the work is subsidy or vanity publishing as in the case of Lulu, iUniverse and many more. An author can set up his own publishing firm so to speak and no one will know unless they do a search on that publishing company. This is in essence the real meaning of self publishing but in recent years the term has become interchangeable with vanity or subsidy publishing.

    • CW64 said

      >>I agree with most of what you have written except for your comment that there is a foundation (my words) to those who think those who self-publish do so because they are not good enough to find a traditional publisher.<<

      Still, there are a number of individuals who continue to hold this attitude, although the count is fewer now. This belief likely stems from the fact that rejections were at one time primarily due to either the work being under par in quality or out-of-context with the publication to which it had been submitted. As a result, those who believe the fallacy do so because they feel that if a piece is rejected, something must be wrong with it, otherwise it wouldn’t have been rejected in the first place. Likewise, these same people disregard the reasoning provided in support of self-publishing as merely “rationalizing” instead of it being based on truth. These tradionalists believe that a writer must become published through another entity.

      I am not saying this is right, just that this is how some groups think.

      Old traditions die hard, as the saying goes.

      For the record, my mind is open to the idea.

      <>An author can set up his own publishing firm so to speak and no one will know unless they do a search on that publishing company.<<

      Keep in mind, too, most writers who self-publish have only enough money to afford publishing and vending their own works. Some don't even have that much. Their publishing firm would not likely become established for some time.

      Also, successes create a positive reputation for the writer. Those successes, then, are crucial if the writer intends to establish a firm, becausing trying to establish said firm right away would be difficult without reputations in the first place.

      Does this make any sense?

  3. I absolutely agree with you that old traditions die hard–it will be some time before the majority of the population will accept self-publishing as a favorable options for writers. We are beginning to get there but there are some who still disbelieve it. For example, in one of the Linkedin groups I mentioned the managing editor who told me self-publishing is a good way for a new writer to be noticed and someone tried to tell me that a “reputable” publisher would not say that. this person also believe anyone who is wroth their salt can become published traditionally. It is attitudes like this one that prevents self-publishing from being a good alternative for many writers.

    I do also understand what you mean about cost, but I didn’t mean necessarily a writer has to have his own pritnting press but rather that he or she makes the contacts rather than going to one person and usinng the services of that company. Having your own publishing company doesn’t mean you have to physically print your own books–I am sure traditional publishers hire those services out, especially smaller companies. However, you will have the options to obtain quotes and choose the best person for the job at a price that is right for you.

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