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How Self Publishing Books Mislead Writers
I'll say it straight away. I'm biased against self publishing books and websites that encourage writers to forego the traditional publishing process. They like to speak of "leveling the
playing field" and "circumventing the middleman," as if traditional publishers are more enemies than partners. They overlook the fact that traditional publishers allow writers to do what they
most love--write a good book--without acquiring the necessary business skills needed to successfully publish and distribute. Many of these books on self publishing make the
process sound too easy, as if anyone can do it with little or no literary background or experience. The result is a lot of poorly written books with no audience. In reality,
successful publishing--the sort that results in a book worth reading, and in people reading it--is a specialized and time-consuming process. It can be learned, but not without cost and effort.
So which books and articles on self publishing will most help a writer decide whether to
Assuming that the writing process is over, that a manuscript is ready for publication--well written and well edited--the difficult part is not creating an ebook, or even a hard copy, and making
it available for purchase. The real challenge is in bringing the book to the attention of readers who will buy it.
Self Publishing for Fame and Prestige
If a writer hopes to gain respect or fame, it is useful to know that at this time, the author of self-published books of fiction will not generally garner the same respect in literary circles as the author of a book published by a traditional press. This is because the manuscript has not undergone the scrutiny of publishing professionalsthe agents, editors, and marketing teams who evaluate the book for quality and marketability. They look at a book from a business perspective and make a business decision about its purchase, based on years of experience and expertise.
There is no such vetting process for those self publishing their books. Anyone who can afford the cost of the printing package can write a book and have it published with a
print on demand press (POD). The book may be as interesting and well written as any book found on bookstore shelves, or it may be dull and riddled with errors. Many
self published books are sold online, so purchasers may only learn whether the book is worth the price once it is purchased and downloaded.
I've seen self-published books that read like first
drafts, at best. It is also true that some self-published novels have gone on to outsell those vetted by traditional publishers. Notable examples are The Celestine Prophecy
by James Redfield , and more recently Still Alice
by Lisa Genova, both of whom ended up on the New York Times bestseller list.
Grants and Awards
Self publishing a book has in the past made a writer ineligible for most grants and awards, and ineligible for membership in many professional writing organizations. However, this is changing, and particularly in the US, several awards now consider self-published books.
Carole Buchanan won the 2009 Western Writers' of America Spur Award for her self-published novel God's Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, for example,
and Writer's Digest held a competition in 2009 that awarded a $3000 cash prize, promotion, and distribution
specifically for writer's self publishing books. In 2015, that award was raised to $8000. In 2014 the well known UK newspaper, The Guardian, ran the Self-Published Book of the Month Prize,
and chose one self published book a month from April to December to promote in their newspaper.
All this aside, one of the most important considerations when self-publishing is the author's ability to distribute and market the book. Read about that aspect of self
publishing books HERE.
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