Self publishing has become a beacon of hope for millions of aspiring authors. It is seen by many as the only way to write a novel the way it should be written. But is this view accurate? Many authors who have gone through the main stream publishing route see self publishing as beneath them and anyone who self publishes as less than authentic. I see this attitude as blatant snobbery. Lets face it, looking down the nose at people because they choose to self publish for whatever reason is the equivalent of playground taunting.
For some people the very fact that a publisher is not interested in your book means that you will never succeed. But let me ask you this – Would we have light bulbs today if Edison had given up on the incandescent light bulb? Would America be the country it is today if Columbus had decided to turn around and go home? Would air travel be possible today if the Wright Brothers and so many pioneers like them, listened to their detractors? No. Of course it wouldn’t.
Advancement often comes in the face of adversity. So many people succeed because they defy the odds, because they run in the face of criticism, because they believe in themselves.
The simple fact is that not everyone is born equal. There are many books in print that are to my taste, awful, both books produced by large publishing houses and through Indie publishing. There are many reasons why a book might not get published and it does not always have anything to do with the quality of the writing. Thousands of good stories get thrown out every year along with the bad.
The Writing Dream
Thousands of would be authors, dream of seeing their story in print. For the vast majority, that is all it will ever be, a dream. It will remain a vague inclination, something to talk about with friends over coffee or as an innocent pastime, a hobby to be done when the kids have gone to bed or at the weekends. They do not truly have the desire to see their work in print and they certainly don’t want to work at it.
For a few it becomes an obsession, a hopeless cause bereft of an ending that does not include despair. Lack of writing talent, drive or the ability to take criticism and rejection become stumbling blocks to success. They take the same tired manuscript and re write and twist plots and dialogue and send it to any agent whose address they can find. But they refuse to listen to criticism when it is offered. They don’t seem to learn anything from what they are doing. They don’t evolve, they simply are!
And finally you have the minority group of writers. These are the survivors, those hardy souls who have learned to pen a tight and punchy synopsis, they have a finished manuscript that is rich with passion, powerful metaphors and an A-bomb climax. The story is original, the characters fresh and they present with a professional attitude to their agent and publisher.
Two things happen.
- They get an agent and end up with a publishing contract
- They get an agent but the story is not a good fit or if it is non-fiction perhaps does not have enough mass appeal to make it worth the risk
And let us not forget that publishers are all about risk and profits. It’s hard enough to make a living these days without taking undue risk. But…and I think this is important – why should a writer with the talent and the scope, more importantly, with the desire to succeed – having failed to open the door, simply give up? What is wrong with taking his book and publishing it himself? Is this not another way to prove his worth and desire? Is this a reason to look down at his efforts?
For many of these talented authors, self publishing is a sensible means of developing a following and proving, once and for all, that they have the ability to make it in the industry. Self publishing is fast becoming the means by which aspiring authors seek to promote themselves. Authors like Cory Doctorow and Kit Berry have shown a unique and innovative talent for self promotion and are an example to all writers on how to make a success online and off.
Let Darwin Decide
I think we have a lot of thanks to offer all those self published authors who have gone before us. They have opened up a realm of opportunity for writers. It is not inconceivable that self publishing will become the first choice for many writers in the not so distant future. The advent of the Kindle and other electronic book readers has provided many aspiring writers with the means to sell their books online. As with any Darwinian process, some make it and some don’t. Just don’t knock them for trying.