As I was searching for inspiration for this week's blog, I came across this blog by Mick Rooney over at Self-Publishing Review (not to be confused with The Self-Publishing Review, a wonderful site too). It's an excellent plea for common sense when it comes to publishing in any form, but especially self-publishing. I want to quote a few highlights from the post and add my thoughts.
Rooney: "There are those in the traditional world of publishing who believe self-publishing has the potential to tarnish an author’s book. Usually there are a myriad of under-the-surface reasons for this view, but, at least as far as tried and trusted publishing practice is concerned, their valid argument is that an author who chooses to first self-publish their book gives up their first publication rights."
That's really the only thing a self-published author gives up by self-publishing--that and the mystique of having already used up first serial rights--which is probably more important than the rights themselves. People in the publishing industry, like people in the rest of the world, want to be "first," and when you self-publish, you take the "first" charm away from your book. That charm never comes back, at least in the eyes of the industry.
More Rooney: "It is simply not true to say a book is done and dusted if it is self-published and that any wide recognition and commercial success is beyond its reach. Self-published books continue to be picked up by mainstream publishers."
I have a list published at my other blog--dated now, but all confirmed--of five self- or subsidy-published fiction writers who went on to publish their self-published works commercially. I'm sure there have been many more since then. I don't know if anyone out there has a more comprehensive list, but I wish one existed.
More Rooney: "As it stands, mainstream publishing is, and should be, the first port of call for any author."
Bravo! Things have changed in the publishing world over the last ten years or so, but they haven't changed that much. Every writer defines her own success, but I'll bet the success you envision for yourself is far more likely to happen if you publish commercially that if you self-publish. Your choice, of course, but there you go.
More Rooney: "There is nothing wrong with self-publishing provided you...understand why you are considering self-publishing and crucially you know what it entails and tailor your expectations to a reasonable and realistic level."
There are still plenty of people out there who just don't like self-publishing. Much of the sting of their criticisms has been taken away with the relatively new abilities to self-publish cheaply (POD/ebooks) and to distribute widely (Internet), but it's still there. Know that they just have different goals from you, and provided they're respectful to you, there's nothing wrong with your or their approach.
What struck me most about Rooney's post is his ability to illuminate something that should be obvious: Publishing is about writers getting their work to readers, and preferably getting paid for it. That's pretty much the beginning and the end of it. The rest--commercial publishing companies, self-publishing companies, subsidy POD companies, agents, editors, printers, print books, ebooks, audiobooks, reviewer, reviews, blogs, literary magazines, etc, infinity--are just ways to facilitate that end, and any attempt to glorify or demonize any aspect of that list is like choosing to love (or hate) a sports team because of the way it travels to games.
*How do I get my work to readers?* That's the only question a writer need concern himself with. We all should be glad that there is more than one possible answer.
Yours in laying down the law,
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