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Is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Finally Gone?

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Today’s guest post is by blogger Ben Galley, and he’s writing on a topic that is hot right now. Check out his insights and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

It’s a sad truth, and one that is almost immediately apparent to most, that self-published works can be immediately dismissed due to their origins. From readers, to blogs, to bookshops, the word self-published is often greeted with a grimace and a groan. Some of you may not have experienced this yet, but I guarantee you will in time. But why is this reputation such a notorious one? And, more importantly, what can we do to escape it?

 Cheap and Quick Doesn’t Mean Lousy

There are two main foundations to this reputation. The first comes from the very roots of why there has been such an “Indie Boom”over the last few years. Self-publishing is cheap and quick, and in any industry, this doesn’t often mean quality. This has had a deleterious effect on the rest of us.

In a nutshell, one of the reasons for this stigma is the high volume of low quality, rushed self-published works available. The large majority of readers will be unforgiving of books with no proper editing or a cover made in Word. It’s painted a poor initial view of us. Notoriety results. A bad reputation is a hard one to shrug. For readers who may have simply tried a few indie books in the past and been consistently disappointed, they are unlikely to try again. The same goes for reviewers.

 No Quality Controllers

The second reason is due to the publishers, though not directly. One of the big issues surrounding self-publishing is the idea of curating. This is the idea that within the book industry publishers are the curators of quality. Ideally, they decide what is good enough to go to print, and discard what isn’t. Whether or not this works in reality, some readers simply trust publishers to be stamps of high quality. Self-publishing has no such process, and because of that we’ve been dubbed the new slush pile. Because we lack this “quality stamp,” readers unfortunately view us as a risk, and not worth spending the money on. Combine this with the misconception that self-publishing is simply Vanity Publishing: a last resort to rejected authors, authors that therefore must not be very good at what they do, and we’ve got a community that thinks all self-published books are substandard. Who would want to buy a book by a rubbish author? This, combined with an already shaky reputation, has caused many readers, reviewers, press, and bookshops to close their doors. Many for good.

This is simply untrue. So what do we do about this? Do we campaign? Do we street march? Speak out? No, the simple answer is this: We attain quality.

 A Turn for the Best

The good thing is the tide is already turning. We are seeing Indies encroaching on the best-seller lists. We are seeing reviewers amending their policies. We are seeing dedicated blogs and sites curated by voracious readers of Indies. People are beginning to see that the lack of so called publisher-curating can actually allow fresh and new writing. The opinions are beginning to change. How? Because we are now working to avoid these stereotypes. And we are working HARD. Here’s how:

 We Are Raising the Bar

The tide is turning thanks to authors raising the self-publishing bar higher than ever before. As M. J. Rose, best-selling author and owner of AuthorBuzz.com, said in a recent HuffPost article: “Self-publishing shouldn’t be an excuse to not do the hard work.” Thanks to the technology of the last few years, self-published POD books are now almost indistinguishable from those that come from the offset printing of the publishers. It’s now possible to attain their level of quality, and even go better, so why don’t we? Now that it’s possible, we have no excuse!

 We Are Forking Out for It

Professional services will cost. To stand out and make sales, cutting corners doesn’t cut the mustard any more. The Indies that are standing out are the ones teaming up with professional freelance editors, the ones who are learning new skills and paying for courses, the ones who are working closely with the designers from publishing houses, the ones that are hiring marketing expertise.

Yes, we should be cash-conscious and try to publish on a budget so that we can ensure a good return. But using that logic, it’s also wise to pay for quality, so that we can reap the benefits later. Quality is our best sales point after our writing. I’m not talking thousands here, I’m talking hundreds at most. Shop around and be wise. If you find a cheap route, such as crowd-sourcing or crowd-editing, then just make sure the reduction in cost hasn’t reduced your quality.

 We Are Using Our Readers

I don’t believe that quality belongs solely to the publishers. There are a lot of good writers out there who don’t get a contract, and it has nothing to do with their writing. They can be rejected for a whole host of reasons.

Whatever you write, your readers are now your best friends. Curating now belongs to the reader. Russell Grandinetti, top Amazon executive, said this in the NY Times: “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader. . . . Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.” Take from that what you will, but what I take is that your readers now have the power to influence other buyers far more than any other factor, be it a publisher’s logo or other.

Readers are now the curators of quality. People are quick to champion a good book, and many, despite those I spoke about in the first part of this post, don’t care where the book has come from. They just want a good read. Couple that with a crowd of intuitive rating, review, and comments sites such as Goodreads, or the ability to rate and review directly at retailers like Amazon, and we see readers being responsible for pushing quality to the top.

Our readers’ thoughts are now our quality stamp, and their thoughts rest solely on the quality of our books. Understanding that is key!

  We Are Debunking the Myth

Lastly, we are eager to share the fact that we are self-published. For those of us who spend time and money on quality, self-publishing is not a curse word, or a slur, or detrimental term. When I’m at a signing and somebody picks up my book and remarks on how good it looks or feels, and when they looked shocked as I say “self-published,” I get a smile. I’m passionate about telling people what I’ve done and why because I believe, reader by reader, I’m quashing the stigma. I see other authors doing exactly the same and it makes me very happy indeed!

As more of us raise the bar, we need to be vocal about who and what we are. That way more and more readers will change their minds. Reviewers will amend their policies. Slowly but surely, the tide will change for good.

 How to Achieve Quality

Here are a few tips for attaining quality.

  • Because everybody has a different view of what is and isn’t quality, always emulate the best, not just the best sellers. Examine the award-winning authors and covers artists and see what has made them examples of quality.
  • “Quality” means the writing too, not just the editing and the cover!
  • At the point you think you’ve edited or tweaked enough. Step back, and then go over it all once again.
  • With new works or rereleases, use your existing readers and fans to give you frank feedback.
  • While examining the best, also examine the worst. If you see a bad review pertaining to “low quality,” go and have a look. It’s best to learn the don’ts as well as the dos.
  • Constantly ask the question: “Is this book professional enough?” Holding your book side by side with your idea of ultimate quality can be a good idea.

Thanks for reading, and lastly: Don’t be an Indie that contributes to the stereotype. Be an Indie that is an ambassador of quality.

 

Ben Galley is a young author from sunny England, and a writer of fantasy and tall tales. Author of the epic and dark Emaneska Series, he has two books to his name, and there is soon to be a third. At twenty-four, he might just be the youngest self-published author in the UK. He is a regular speaker, and blogger on everything fantasy and self-publishing, and has just launched a self-publishing, writing, and marketing site called SHELF HELP. You can also find him lurking on several social media sites. It’s wise not to encourage him.

47 Responses to “Is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Finally Gone?”

  1. Gene Wolf July 2, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    I agree with your comments and see two parallels from my perspective as someone with a 30+ years career in IT. The first parallel was when desktop publishing was just coming out in the 80′s. Perple then, especially those in the printing industry, had a saying, “All the tools to make a truly hideous brochure easily.” I believe indie publishing suffered, perhaps still suffers, from this perception. I also have to point out that desktop publishing, at first, allowed people with no training to make truly horrendous materials. However, the technology matured and most of the snobs that didn’t adopt desktop publishing over traditional mechanical layout are no longer in business.

    The other parallel is working from home. Being an IT guy my clients were everywhere. One of my biggest clients was in Alabama (The Southern Company) while I worked as a web programmer out of my home. There used to be, and perhaps still is, a stigma to working out of the home. If you did not have an office, high overhead and a receptionist, how good could you be? Once large companies saw the quality of my work they abandoned that concept quickly enough.

    Indie publishing is just another technology going through growing pains. Technologies like Vook and Smashwords make it relatively easy to get really horrible writing to market relatively easily. These technologies are the equivalent of early DTP. Give them a few years and I would hope they would have the foresight to add editing services to their offerings, layout, beta readers, etc. They would do this all for a price of course, but someone WILL do this and integrate it so it’s easy for a writer, not steeped in the IT world, to market truly great work and concentrate on what they do best; write.

  2. Keri July 2, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    Great article! I wanted to add that a nice advance in self-publishing exists in the form of the Espresso Book Machine from On-Demand Publishing. Their slogan is ‘a book printed in less than the time it takes to make an espresso.’ They are situated in book stores across the country and can be very affordable for first time authors. You have to set the book up yourself with layout and so forth, but it does give you a nice degree of control over the finished product.

    • Joni August 5, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      As a bookstore owner I am excited about the introduction of the Espresso Book Machine technology and see so much potential for its use in making more books available to our customers. We just need for the economics of owning the machine to become a little more feasible for a small bookstore. We try to support many local authors and self-published writers — you are right to stress the need for quality. The other issue we face when wanting to carry books by a self-published author is often the lack of a reliable distribution channel.

  3. Annamaria Bazzi July 2, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    I agree with what you’ve said in this article, but would like to stress the importance of hiring a freelance editor to go over the book. They will help find character flows and plot holes, besides correcting any missed punctuation and grammar errors. I’d also like to point to an organization out there trying hard to raise the standards of indie writers.
    http://www.indiependents.org/
    They are a non-profit organization trying to help indie publishers rise above the stigma we are suffering.

    • Ben Ghalley July 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Annamaria, and for the recommendation of Indiependent. Have just had a look and I’m very intrigued. Will have to spread the news about that one on SHELF HELP!

  4. Angela Ackerman July 2, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    I think the preview helps as well–readers can preview a portion of what they are buying, and if it doesn’t capture their interest or seems full of poor writing/typos, they pass.

    I see two camps–people who don’t put the energy into create a strong product and just ‘throw it out there’ with poor writing, formatting glitches, a bad cover, etc. & then those who are determined to beat the SP stigma by releasing when it’s ready and taking pride in quality.

    I actually think Amazon’s Free promo weakening is a good thing–it is no longer as attractive to try and use it to get massive amounts of sales, so it will weed out some of the quick-and dirty authors just hoping to make a fast buck.

    I also am seeing increasingly good product out there. :) The strong books rise, breaking barriers, and the poor books sink, damaging writers’ reputations as they go.

    • cslakin July 2, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Thanks, Angela, for those observations! I do believe readers over time will discern the good books out there, and WOM has always been the way books sell best. So a great book should rise to the top!

  5. Debra Holland July 2, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    I’m lucky in that I haven’t had negative feedback about self-publishing my books (sweet historical Western romances.) I had great covers to show off, and by month two had rising numbers. In four months I’d sold 5,000 books and in a year about 97,000. I made the USA Today Bestseller list in April. If someone even TRIES to put self-publishing down, I just drop one or more of the above facts, and they change their minds. Often the author who started the conversation with a negative mindset has decided to self-publish new or backlist books by the end of our talk. :)

    • Lilian Darcy July 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      Congratulations on those numbers, Debra.

    • Gary Allen VanRiper July 6, 2012 at 2:22 am #

      awesome numbers, Debra. It took us 10 years to hit 100,000 sold of our self-published children’s series.

  6. Sonia G Medeiros July 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    I whole heartedly agree. I’ve seen some truly terrible self pubbed stuff and some awesome stuff. Unfortunately, a lot of folk lump all self pub authors together. And it seems that indies have to work much harder than traditionally published authors to get the same respect (judging by some of the novels I’ve come across recently). Still, fair or not, the hard work only benefits the author and reader when the product shines.

  7. Bobbi Hughes-Millman July 2, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Great article! Traditionally Published authors tend to believe the only way to get the full exposure potential for your book is through trade publishers. That’s all fine if the brand-new apprentice previewing your book for the publisher or agency has the state of mind to recognize a gem.

    My first editor, a former employee of Simon & Schuster, was shocked they didn’t pick me up or any of the other multitude of agents or publishers I submitted to. Oh, I received some great comments from an editor at Random House, “A great story, brilliant choice, strong dialogue, minor tweaking and you will definitely find a home, unfortunately, not right for our list.”

    My editor tried to encourage me to go back to Simon & Schuster or another “Major Publisher” to pitch my book series. By that time I’d had it with the whole grind. I was determined to self-publish. At this point, although my sales aren’t stellar, I have no regrets. My book has been published sooner than if I continued on the same circular path. I know what I need to do and I’m learning more every day. Life is a wonderful teacher.

    My second book comes out soon, my favorite in the series, and I will begin my greatest journey with one interview already scheduled for August as well as others in the works, press releases waiting to be sent and a local book tour planned for surrounding High Schools and Jr Highs. I couldn’t be more excited!

  8. Dan Thompson July 3, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    No regrets here, either. My book has only been out for a couple of months, but I’m pleased with the sales so far. One of my readers remarked on the quality, saying, “His team did an excellent job. It wasn’t what I expected in a self-published book.”

    Yet I have to say I’ve been disappointed by numerous self-published books. The free sample makes it much easier to examine the writing quality, and I have easily dispatched dozens of other self-published books in my genre for their poor quality. They don’t necessarily have typos on the first page, but the writing is often lackluster and weak.

    But there are some that have knocked my socks off. It was probably them, more than any other argument about royalty rates, that convinced me I could achieve quality without New York and keep control of my career.

    But for now, I’m focused on moving forward with more books. Right now, book two is with my beta readers. Book three is cooling off, waiting for edits. And book four, well, it’s time to get off the blogs and get back to writing.

  9. T.K. Marnell July 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I haven’t found much commercial success with my self-published stories yet, but I’m happy to report that none of my readers so far have had any bias against me because of it. I believe most people don’t care about publisher “stamps of approval” anymore. They buy a title based on its description, the eye-catching cover, and the quality of the preview chapters. It’s clear from both the positive and negative reviews of my first novel that they considered it just like any book from Penguin or Random House; if they don’t like the work, it was because of an annoying character or a disappointing plot turn, not because they think the quality is inherently inferior.

    *Writers*, on the other hand, tend to treat self-published books like trash. The reviews I get from other writers give me the impression that since the book wasn’t “really” published yet, they thought of themselves as critique partners instead of readers: I get comments on Amazon like, “With some editing to make the heroine more likable, this could be great.” They automatically assume that I haven’t taken the time and pains to have it edited, and I just kind of threw the rough draft out there for quick cash.

    Yes, there is a lot of trash out there. I’ve seen books topping the free Kindle charts with misspellings in the description. I’ve caught glimpses of a whole culture of new writers who celebrate unedited drivel, telling people who complain about low quality to “kick that lemon-sucking old English teacher out of your brain” and applauding statements like, “All writers have bad grammar and spelling. Deal with it.” However, it isn’t fair to generalize from these folks that self-publishing is synonymous with self-satisfied and lazy. There was a time not too long ago that many great works were published on the author’s dime. Nobody had a problem with Virginia Woolf hand-printing her books from her home in London, or Walt Whitman paying for the publication of the first edition of “Leaves of Grass.”

    • Ben Ghalley July 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

      Interesting what you say about the stigma coming from writers instead. Especially about the critique partners!

  10. Claude Nougat July 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    A necessary post, thanks Ben!
    Yes, I opted for the self-pubbed road after getting discouraged by the long grind to try and find an agent and after that a publisher and then wait another couple of years before having my book out. But I’m a perfectionist (even as a reader I spot typos all the time, including in traditionally published books) and I certainly aim as a writer to have my books as perfect as can be from all points of views, form and substance. So it’s upsetting to find yourself thrown in with a group of people who (sometimes) don’t seem to even be bothered by their own typos…
    And I agree with you, the only response is to aim for top quality.
    I fervently hope your call will be heard…In the meantime, it’s a tsunami of awful stuff and one has the feeling of sinking to the bottom. The idea that places like Smashwords should offer editing services is excellent. They should also require a minimum of quality (for example, no typos allowed). Or perhaps Amazon and other e-retailers could require that a certain, well-defined level of “minimum quality” is met before a writer is allowed to upload his book. We’re not there yet but I suspect that something like this could come to pass. It’s not to Amazon’s advantage to allow that so much poor stuff is available on their site…

  11. Julia Royston July 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Love the article and thanks so much. The stigma is not totally gone but, I own a small publishing company and stress quality manuscripts to all of my authors. A great manuscript first and then the cover. High Quality all of the way… Thanks again.

  12. Ben Ghalley July 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Thank you all for the kind comments and feedback. Some great points being made here too.. It’s also good to see that this issue rings true with so many of you. The more we can spread the word, the better this situation becomes!

    Thanks again to CS for featuring my blog on her amazing site, and if I can be of further use to anyone, let me know at ShelfHelp@bengalley.com!

  13. Dana K. Haffar July 5, 2012 at 1:06 am #

    Great post, thank you Ben and Susanne. I initially went the traditional way and published in paperback. As I did with my first novel, I submitted my second for editorial assessment to a well-known British agency (at some expense) who also acts as agent scouts. Cut a long story short, they took it upon themselves to place me with an agent after I’d revised the copy, much to their delight. No one bit, for various reasons, and I was advised to move on to my third novel and maybe one day go back to the second. So I decided to cut out the middle man, self-publish, and let the market be the judge. So far, the reviews have been good.

    Though I might stick to self-publishing I feel I have a responsibility to deliver quality. As writers, we are not only marketing our books but our name. If our aim is to build a readership, we have to maintain a standard that will earn one. It would be a mistake to underestimate our readers for, more than agents and publishers, they have the last word.

  14. Peter Gibson July 5, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    For 26 years we’ve been hidden away behind publishers providing them with design, illustration and typesetting for all kinds of books.

    The advent of POD (Print on Demand) has allowed authors to bypass publishers and print very low quantities. e-books have also allowed authors to reach an audience without a massive marketing budget.

    However, good design, typography and editorial are important and this is why we’ve seen an influx of authors approaching studios such as ours to get the same professional finish as provided by a mainstream publisher.

    http://www.hlstudios.eu.com

  15. Stacy Green July 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Love this post, and really agree with Angela’s comment. There are two camps, and I really want to be included in the latter. I chose to go with a small press for my debut to learn the business, but I’m committed to going indie with the next. I know I’ve got to put the investment into my book if I want to build readership, and while it’s a scary endeavor, this is my career. I feel I’ve got one shot to get this right, and I’m not going to waste it by short changing it. And I’m so glad for the continued self-policing going on among indies. What’s even more awesome is the power resting with the reader. Isn’t that who we want to make happy?

    • cslakin July 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      Great thoughts, Stacy. And don’t forget the importance of getting your work professionally edited before sending it out there. The biggest problem with the stigma is authors are putting novels out for people to read that are riddled with errors. The more quality we indie authors make available–beautiful written and edited books, the more we bring readers to that venue. personally I would be ashamed to put any of my novels out for viewing without them being thoroughly edited. it’s my reputation as a writer that is at stake, and I want a reputation of excellence with every book I release.

      • Stacy Green July 5, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

        Oh, I am. Going with a great editor rec’d by Melissa Foster. Very excited to learn from her. I really want that fat editorial letter with all sorts of things I’m supposed to work on. And I feel the same way. Reputation of excellence!

  16. Vikram Karve July 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Great article.
    In India, most new writers have no option but to self-publish. This is because the big publishing houses go in for established authors only and there are hardly any literary agents who can help budding authors.
    However, self published books are selling quite well and some are even outselling those published by big publishers.
    I feel that, unless the established names in publishing encourage new writers, the day is not far when self publishing will overtake traditional publishing.
    I liked your quote: “Quality” means the writing too, not just the editing and the cover
    Regards
    Vikram

  17. Alyssa Linn Palmer July 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    Excellent article. I see more and more writers opting for self-publishing, and doing very well by it, including quite a number in my local RWA chapter. Some have been trad-pubbed and decided to go indie, while others (like myself) have decided to step off the treadmill of agent/editor submissions. As for my reading side: I don’t care who your publisher is, or if you’ve self-pubbed. Catch my attention with your title, cover and blurb, and you likely have a sale.

    However, it’s best to have your work professionally edited before you publish. If you’re not confident about your blurb, ask your editor to help you with that, too. A good editor is well worth the money. If you’re not sure, ask the editor if they can edit a sample for you, to see if their style meshes with yours. If they don’t ‘get’ your work, then it can make for an incredibly difficult process. Also, if you have certain things you know you’re bad at, such as repetitive use of a word, or dangling participles, let the editor know. :) (I recommend The Author’s Red Room, authorsredroom.com, as they use two editors to go over your work, not just one.)

    • cslakin July 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      Thanks for plugging editing (since I do it full-time for a living). It’s so important that we indie writers (and although I have a bunch of books traditionally published, I am totally an indie!) produced quality work. It’s not just for the overall reputation but we should always put out our best work. So many writers do not want to spend the money for editing, but they view their book as the pinnacle of their life and writing as more important than anything, and they will rack up the credit card to buy “stuff” but won’t pay for editing their magnum opus. I don’t get it.

    • Lance C. July 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      The URL for The Author’s Red Room is http://www.theauthorsredroom.com/. The other gets you to a Japanese site.

      • Alyssa Linn Palmer July 7, 2012 at 9:41 am #

        Thanks for catching that, Lance! My bad. :)

      • Ben Galley July 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

        I agree. A cover can only say so much about the contents, and editing is just as important. I always stress this in my blogs and to new authors I work with. It’s just not good enough to have one professional facet any more, we must have every base covered, and editing is a pretty big base! My advice always is that if you have to pay for something, pay for editing and cover design. No arguments :)

        Thanks again to all,

        Ben

  18. Lance C. July 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    I’ve been resisting the siren call of self-pub, but I’m starting to give in. One concern I have is the seeming difficulty of finding a qualified fiction editor who can do a developmental edit in my genre. If I’m going to lay out $3-4000, I want to make sure the editor isn’t going to make things worse rather than better. I’m not sure a sample edit of the first chapter (four pages in my case) is going to tell me anything. Any suggestions?

    A cover artist is a lot easier; you look at a portfolio and choose the one whose work syncs with what you want. If only it was so easy to find an editor!

    • cslakin July 7, 2012 at 5:00 am #

      I can do the editing for you. I edit all genres and this is my full-time vocation. The best way to proceed (if you’re sure you don’t need a critique first to examine all your major story components) is to pay for just a few hours of editing and have your first few chapters done. That way you can see how I work and if it’s giving you the help you need.

  19. Anh Nguyen July 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    This is an interesting topic and I’ve been wanting to response to it for a few days but haven’t had time. Posted a sponse to this on my blog at http://fictitiousrealities.com/readings-and-writings/the-shifting-paradigm-in-publishing-from-big-publishing-houses-to-self-publishing/

    My experience mirror that of most other commenters here. The stigma might strictly be from the publishing house authors more than from the consumers.

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    It’s great to have others repost blog posts and spread the information around. Thanks!

  22. Claire Ridgway August 4, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    An excellent article!
    I think things are changing for the better because self-published authors are hiring professionals to help them, but there is still a stigma attached to self-publishing.
    I’ve written two non-fiction history books and I’ve had someone comment on Amazon that they thought I’d chosen to self-publish because I was afraid of peer review. Nonsense! I’m not an academic and wasn’t writing an academic style book. I write for readers, not for peer review.
    It’s annoying when people make assumptions about self-published books and authors.

  23. Marie Pinschmidt August 4, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    BRAVO. I’ve self-published three novels and a memoir and I defy anyone to find more errors than in traditional publishing. I believe many writers who were angry at the insults became more determined than ever to produce an excellent book. I liked having total control over the end product. Many writers in the TP world are turning to SP for more freedom. Let’s keep on producing excellent work; we may end up in the Olympics!
    Happy writing everyone.

  24. Johanna van Zanten August 7, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Hi,
    I agree, mostly, that there is no reason why a self published book should not be quality. If I see that so many lousy books are selling like hot cakes, no literary quality in my view ( 50 Shades of grey) , I am not so worried. Just one should select the category carefully.
    As a self publisher (1 book published digitally) I experienced that professional services are not cheap; for a debut novel of about 210 pages I paid for structural and copy editing about $4000 and another roughly $400 for the conversion and distribution to the retailers of my E book, while the cover photo was a gift from an artist friend of mine that the designers at Bookbaby used to construct a professional looking novel.
    In the meantime, I was the last person to look at the text and that was a mistake. I would have loved it if a person at the end stage could go over it again, as my eye got tired and I missed a few errors, such as a paragraph with editor comments included left in the final product. OK, so that was a mistake I won’t make again. In the end, the readers decide whether a book is worth reading, price point not the least important.

    Johanna van Zanten

  25. Louise Sorensen August 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Since I got my kindle, I haven’t bought a paper book. I’ve only purchased e books.
    I have found a wide range in quality in e books, and after a few disappointments, have taken to downloading samples. These let me know if a book is well written enough that it won’t be painful to read, and if the story is engaging.
    I usually don’t bother reading reviews except as entertainment.
    I’ve found many ebooks to be as good or better than trad pub books, as far as typos go. And the quality of the good writers is just as good.
    One complaint I have with trad pub is the limited number of authors they can carry.
    And they seem to bring out book after book by authors who are clearly tapped out.
    Recent offerings by some popular authors seem to me to be sketchy and rushed.
    To sum up, I have no problem with indie authors at all, and plan to self publish.

  26. Doreen Pendgracs August 8, 2012 at 4:18 am #

    Great post, Susanne. I, too, have been traditionally published (3x) and will be self-publishing my upcoming book, Chocolatour.

    I think the most important part of the self-publishing process is to form a self-publishing team to hold you accountable and help you reach the high standards you are seeking for your book. I’ve written about that on my writers blog and also have 2 posts prior to that from successfully self-published authors. Glad to have found your post via Twitter. We all learn from one another.

  27. Mike September 4, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Thanks for a very interesting article, Ben. There have been some thought provoking responses too. Personally, I took the self-publishing route for my grandfather’s books as a first choice, rather than a last resort for a number of reasons. But quality has always been my number one priority in the entire process, from editing through design and the cover. I would have hated to think that I was putting William’s work out there in a state unworthy of its inherent quality and have made doubly sure that all the I’s were dotted and the T’s crossed.

    Unfortunately, I have found that there is still a very strong stigma attached to self-publishing, but it is shifting, slowly but surely. A lot of bloggers state in their policies that they simply will not review self-published books, but I have approached one or two (having weighed up whether or not they’d respond positively judging by their reviews of other books in the genre) and managed to convince them to read the book…and their reviews have ended up being very positive on the whole.

    It is a shame that the very process which makes it possible for us to put wonderful work out there without the need for traditional publishers also makes it possible for others to flood the market with poor quality material. But I suppose that’s the price we have to pay and it’s up to those of us determined to put excellent content out there to make sure that content rises to the top of the pile.

  28. Barbara Anne Waite September 5, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    Good article. I published my book, but it is not “self-published”, I hired all the things I needed. I invested in a great cover and interior design, editor, proof reader, website, and marketing survey etc. I made an initial investment of about $3,000. I believe it paid off in about 6 months. Since my memoir is of an Arizona teacher from 1913-1916 it is “interpretive history.” I am selling in about 24 outlets in Arizona. When I approached one gift shop and began to give him my promo speech he stopped me with, “Lady save your words, the cover ‘pops’, I’ll take a dozen.” I also was able to get into one Costco and they sold 40 at a book signing. My biggest surprise was two National parks in Arizona that have ordered 320 copies since March. They have Indian ruins focus but their gift shop sells my memoir of an Arizona Teacher. The work of marketing a book yourself is very time consuming but rewarding. Though I have only sold about 200 print copies on Amazon. I have sold over 1,000 from my home. I wish that figured into my rankings on Amazon. Amazon has sold over 2,200 Kindle books. The fun has been reviews from Ecuador, Crete, Korea, Canada as well as all over USA. My book has been #1 in Kindle Memoirs-West for months. It is currently #4 in Kindle Memoirs-West. So yes, it is very possible to have a measure of success if you are willing to make an initial investment. I have continued to add “tidbits” to my website over the last year and I think that also helps. http://www.BarbaraAnneWaite.com

    Barbara Anne Waite- Author Memoir “Elsie-Adventures of an Arizona Schoolteacher 1913-1916″

  29. Kathleen December 12, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Self-publishing is the most amazing opportunity there is. Before, writers were dependent on the whims of the big publishing houses, “Will it be a best-seller?”

    If not, a rejection slip…

    There are so many people with amazingly good ideas who might never have had the opportunity to be published. Sure, there are plenty who haven’t taken the time to get their work edited and that gives all self-pub authors a bad name…and yet, their work is still valid.

    I say, “YEAH!” to those who have had the courage, determination, and tenacity to see their book through to publication, whatever the route.

    Thank you for such a thought-provoking article. This will be a topic that will be discussed for years to come. I hope more “Indie” authors will have their voices heard in the meantime.

  30. A. R. Silverberry December 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Excellent post! We’re making strides in changing the prevailing prejudices, but I think the long-established view of self-publishing still has a strong hold on the public in general.

  31. Michelle Sutton December 16, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    Everything you write is so smart! This is a time when “Everyone is doing it” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Why? Because those “everyones” include well-known people. I can usually tell if a book is going to be lousy by the description. So if it’s a self-pub book has a cruddy description that is poorly written, I won’t even both with getting the book even if it’s free.

  32. Michelle Sutton December 16, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    I meant bother. I should proofread my stuff first. Whoops.

  33. Kathy Steinemann August 25, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    Thanks for sharing.

    Another tactic that has reduced the perceived value of self-published work is the practice of offering freebies. Too many consumers download hundreds of free e-books and leave them sitting on their e-readers without ever opening them.

    The first book of a series? Free=good publicity. Otherwise, I think freebies devalue an author’s writing.

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