Or, should I say,
My Self-Publishing Dilemma
Publishing my own book on eBooks is one thing, but publishing it in print is another. So many people have told me that they’d like to read my book, but they can’t stand reading on a screen, that I kind of want to have a tangible book to sell them.
My own vanity has prevented me from self-publishing in print. Somehow it was okay to publish an eBook because the regular publishers didn’t handle them anyway, and because it’s so new. But actually PAYING someone to produce my book has just felt weird.
I’ve always felt conflicted about self-publishing in hardcopy. Self-published books usually look self published. They have those sharp corners and the colors on the cover look stark and amateurishly produced. And when you get right down to it, self publishing in print is an admission that you can’t get published by a regular publisher.
Realistically however, the publishing industry seems to be in a pit. My agent tells me they are accepting very few unknown authors. The economy is hitting them and they have decided that their chances of selling books by known authors are better.
I can see that they are taking the safe route by spitting out lots of new books by the same old guys. I’ve stopped buying them, because the quality has deteriorated. They are holding these writers to schedules like getting a new book out every six months. The latest book by one of my favorites was so bad, I abandoned reading it.
Although only 2% of new book sales are eBooks at the moment, the number is climbing. I think it will take time for the reading public to shell out money for lots of Kindles or Nooks, but hey – I just bought a Kindle. And the fact that the publishers are spitting out a lot of junk trade books has depressed my buying fervor.
In the past, I went with published trade books because the books were of high quality. I know the publishers go (or went) through a rigid selection process and so I was guaranteed some degree of quality. I no longer feel that that’s true.
A lot of the major writers have become their own corporations, doling out their writing tasks to other people. It says so on the covers.You will see a book by Famous Author, but written by Other Author. I have picked up a few of these and none of them have been as good as books by the Famous Author.
I haven’t bought a mystery off the shelf for a long time. After spending eight bucks for junk about a dozen times, I gave up. My reading tastes have now turned toward classics and literature, which is probably better anyway.
So my question (to myself) is, if the publishers are letting me, as a reader, down, by churning out these crappy books, is it still a matter of pride for me to hold out for a “real” publisher, or not? I am veering toward self publishing in print.
Self publishing is a whole other can of worms for the buying public. While in the past, I depended on the publishers for quality control, the print self publishing and eBook worlds are free for alls. Anyone can publish. I have no way of knowing in advance that what I buy, or download, will be worth reading.
How do we make our choices of what books to buy? And to what degree has the current state of the publishing industry affected our buying habits? Has anyone but me switched from fast-moving trade mysteries to slower, more intelligent literature because my old favorites have become compromised?
As a reader, I no longer feel I can depend on publishers to be viable gateways to reasonable books. I’m on my own.
Perhaps the new way of things will involve a lot more self publishing and new paradigms will emerge to help readers sort out what’s worth buying. More consumer reviews, consumer review websites, there are many possibilities. It will be a great show.
If I write a good book and self publish it, how will anyone know, without buying it, that it’s good? I’m out there with people who have written books in a week, and readers have no way to tell who is what without making an investment.
Smashwords suggests making 50% of your book available as a free look. I think this is a good idea, but I couldn’t make myself give away more than 25% of it, because the whole premise would have been out there.