Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DON'T Buy into the Hype that Self-Published Authors Are Not REAL Authors

DON'T Buy into the Hype that Self-Published Authors Are Not REAL Authors

I just read on another "writing coach's" Facebook page that "Self-Publishing Will Kill Your Reputation as a Quality Author." She's trying to make a clear distinction between self-published authors who use vanity presses and true independently published authors, but all she does is conjure up the same old "self-publishing has a stigma" line from years ago.
“Self-publishing.” A term often confused, skewed by greedy vanity publishing companies, and a stigma to the entire publishing industry. What do you think when you hear, “I am self-published?”
  • That author wasn’t good enough to get a ‘real’ publisher.
  • Their book probably wasn’t edited.
  • Their cover design is horrible.
  • They just wanted a quick fix, an easy road to get their book out.
This is only a smidgen of the stigma true independent publishers have to fight from those in the “self-publishing” industry. The fact is, any company you pay to publish your book, who pays you royalties, or who puts their logo on the back of your book – any company that handles the distribution of your book for you that is not a real book distributor – is not a self-publishing company. They are vanity, plain and simple.
The fact is, the publishing business is changing, and many "BIG NAME" authors are now choosing the self-publishing route.

Just to make sure I wasn't crazy and that the many articles I've been reading over the last six months to a year support this position, I did a quick Google search for "perspectives on self publishing." The FIRST article that comes up is about Alissa Valdes-Rodriguez, who walked away from St. Martin’s Press to self-publish. That's the term they use, "self-publish" not "independently publish." Her comments are telling:
Self-publishing, you see, gives me control. And if I’m not in control, God only knows what will happen. My work might end up shelved under “foreign” in my own country again, or the press release might once more call it “spicy” and me “a hot tamale.” I might, again, get booked to read at a store in Arizona, only to have the manager ask me if I speak English — my native and only tongue. Shudder. 
And I recently posted an on my Facebook fan page a link to a conversation between authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath about this very subject ... the primary focus of which is that Eisler walked away from a 6-figure agreement in favor of "self-publishing."
Here's the thing: this other coach is not wrong about vanity presses. They're low-budget, and working with them can give you a black eye in the literary world. But she does all of her readers a grave disservice by dismissing the facts that:
(a) The publishing industry is changing anyone recall a little chain called Borders recently going under?
(b) Self-publishing (aka indpendent publishing) does not carry nearly the stigma today that it did 10 or 15 years ago.
(c) As many OR MORE opportunities exist for savvy self-publishing authors than for those tied to traditional publishing houses today.
(d) High-quality self-published books are being released every day.
This "coach" would have done her readers/clients much more good by discussing the things one needs to do to make sure their self-published book is well received, such as:
  • Hire the best editor you can afford.
  • Hire a professional book designer to create your cover and interior layout.
  • Have your book professionally typeset.
  • Make sure your book has a table of contents and index, if appropriate.
  • Get an ISBN and LCCN.
  • Register your book with the US Copyright office.
  • Make sure you create a "publishing company" that does not have the author's name/initials in it.
  • Create a logo for said publishing company, and include it on the spine, the back, and the copyright page of the book.
A whole bevvy of new self-publishing authors would likely skip one or more of those steps, and thus run the risk of being decried "not good enough to get a ‘real’ publisher." Those are the clients I love to work with. In fact, I recently helped two self-published (aka indpendently published) authors complete their books. Can you tell, by looking at the covers?


If you'd like help to get your book project off the ground, please message me on Facebook, send me an e-mail, or call me at 602.518.5376. And whatever you do, ignore the shouts that "self-publishing will kill your reputation as a quality author."

NOTE: Bill Greaves at Concept West did the covers for both Find Fulfill Flourish and Gabriel's Angels.

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