In Defense of Self-Publishing

Since I chose to self-publish my novel, I find myself defending that choice to fellow writers who still think it should be only a last resort — after you’ve been rejected by all the real publishers. On a writers’ forum I wrote:

At age 60, I have an attitude problem. I no longer want to hand the rights to my babies over to a moribund industry. I’m impatient. I’m excited about technologies/networks of the future. And I’ve accumulated a lot of skills I love putting to work. So I’ve published my novel as an indie, through the POD services of Createspace and Lighting Source.

The cons:

Yes, there is a stigma. Yes, there are a lot of crappy self-published books. But we also forget about all the wrong decisions publishers make, all the wonderful books rejected, and what all those rejections do to the spirits of talented writers.

You can purchase many services, from editing to marketing, a la carte, if you enjoy being a project leader. I’m a DIY type — love doing it all. Warning: DIY demands lots of technical skills and patience playing with software. Without an agent or publisher cheering you on, it’s lonely.

I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are paying a few bucks and forming an LLC. This allows a self-publisher to hide behind an imprint. The thought crossed my mind. But, since “transparency” is the mantra of the day, I thought to hell with it. Elbowing my way up to stand tall as an author with those published by St. Martins and Random House gives me a little bit of a Rosa Parks frisson.

By the second forum yesterday, I was a little more impatient.

Talking about self-publishing as a “last resort” only after you’ve been rejected by the entire mainstream publishing industry serves to deepen the stigma.

I look at it this way. If you want to get to California from NY, you can fly or drive. Flying is your mainstream agent/publisher route. Break out the champagne… zoom! But there are those of us who enjoy the challenge of driving — maps, camping gear, adventures along the way. That’s today’s indie author-publisher. Jet-setters look down on campers. Campers celebrate their DIY motorcycle-zen skills. My advice is to pick your mode of transport and enjoy the trip.

I could learn to become a brat about this. But I figure it’ll all be cool once indie author-publishers get our own Robert Redford and our own equivalent to the Sundance Festival. Ever hear anyone put down indie films anymore?

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