Thursday, April 12, 2012

Self-Publishing is TOO Easy

Let’s face it, self-publishing is easy. TOO easy. That is not to say don’t self-publish, but slow down.

There are a lot of reasons to still use a publisher, large or small, but with self-publishing becoming so easy the temptation is to ignore those reasons and just go for it. I am not against self-publishing. It is going to be a significant portion of the future of publishing, but as a nice blog, put out on Writer’s and Authors points, out don’t rush! Even if you self-publish, don’t rush. Really, part of what a small publisher does is act as an editor. Forget marketing per se, think “editing for the market.”

If an author were to ever abandon us and self-publish (but don’t I yell to any of our authors reading this!!), I would point you to Book Baby as one of the better “aggregators” out there. They were focused for a long time on independent musicians ( and have the right attitude.

In fact let me digress from my original topic (Self-publishing Is Too easy) to discuss an independent musician at CD Baby as a metaphor for a writer’s life and publishing. I know Reynold Philipsek ( who uses CD Baby (by the way, check out his latest release and some of his older stuff. He is hard to classify as far as genre, but well worth listening to more than one of his CDs, .

I use Reynold as a great example of what writers should be prepared to expect, in general. As the old joke goes: first find a spouse/friend/other to support you, either financially, or spiritually, or simply as your biggest fan. It is a joke, but the roots are accurate. Reynold has Mary. I have known Mary Philipsek for almost 16 years (although we have not kept in touch—Hello Mary!). She took a short respite from Apple to work at a startup company as VP of marketing (I was the CTO). I mention Mary because she has been a promoter and supporter to Reynold since they first got together. Reynold has talent and dedication. It takes more than that. It takes time. The reason it takes time is we cannot manufacture luck. We can take advantage of it, but we cannot create it. Without luck talent needs time, hard work, and help. Reynold deserved recognition years and years ago. He is getting some now, because of time, effort, not giving up, and a support network.

What about self-publishing being too easy? Publishing your work is part of building your portfolio. Everything you publish is part of a portfolio. Rushing to publish is hurts your literary resume.

A small publisher is part of your support network, but only a part. Whether you self-publish, or go with a publisher, you will be doing a lot of work, for a LONG TIME. Agents, editors, and publishers know this. This is part of what they look for with an author. Yes, we would love to find the next super star (where is that luck?), but we know we can bank on long term relationships, long term work, someone committed to the craft and to growing.

As part of that hard work, for little reward, authors have to do book signings. Authors are at a huge disadvantage compared to a musician. An author has not performance venue. No place other than a book store to also demonstrate the craft and entertain. Books are read once or twice, music is listened to over and over. A book signing is one small drop in the bucket of hard work an author must go through in their career, whether they self-publish or go with a publisher. Returning to Book Baby, I point you to their recent blog entry on book signings:

And you thought the hard work was done after getting the manuscript finished! Maybe someday I will return to the original topic of Self-Publishing is Too Easy.

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