Around the time I first wrote the column, I read an article by self-published author Colin Macpherson, who was lamenting the fact that he wasn’t able to enter a contest for published authors for this reason. I believe there now are some competitions open to independently published authors, but I haven’t checked them out.
He stated that some literary commentators dismiss out of hand anything that is self-published as not up to the standard required by publishers. He explained that this is far from the truth, and said there are three good reasons for authors to take this path. The first is to have total control of their work and receive the maximum rewards; the second is that not all material received by publishing houses is read and rejected by an experienced editor. In some cases, young interns are the only readers. He went on to say that, some works are rejected without being read, as they receive far too many.
And thirdly, if it does arrive on the editor’s desk and she accepts it, the marketing department may decide that it doesn’t fit into a category that will sell well.
A publisher’s editor reinforced this statement in a conversation with me. She told me that to her chagrin, it is sometimes the marketing and accounting departments who have the final say on the publication of her chosen titles. Sounds bizarre, but it’s apparently true.
So I thought long and hard and decided that maybe the future of publishing is to self-publish, at least for the first book. Successful sales from such a venture may just help to attract a contract from a larger publishing house; if we decide we need them of course.
There is much more work for the author, as they have to be heavily involved in the marketing of the book, but I look at publishing a book the same way I would look at starting a business.
I wouldn’t expect someone else to buy a business for me, and then hope like hell they get their money back; but that is what a publishing house does. Most of us would expect to buy a business, take the risk with our own money, do the marketing, and work to make it a success. When we self-publish, isn’t that what we are doing, buying a business and working for the profit?
And sure, when taking this route the masochistic tendency is still there, as rejection by readers still a possibility. But if we have invested our own money, and time, it will only be our fault if we fail. I have chosen this route and I will work hard to make it a success. In the next few weeks, I will take you on the journey with me as I start at the beginning and share what I have done to get to where I am today.