Saturday, April 30, 2005

Lots of stuff about self-publishing on the web this week

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So first Sarah Glazer writes an article for the New York Times Review of Books, talking about how self-published books are finally starting to get a little respect from the mainstream world. Then Dan Green of the litblog "The Reading Experience" posts his own thoughts on the article, and points to yet another new article on the subject, by Johnny Temple of Akashic Books and the indie-rock band Girls Against Boys. And then Scott Esposito of the litblog "Conversational Reading" gets into the conversation as well, disagreeing with some of the points but agreeing with many of the others. And I'm a subscriber of Scott's blog, which is how all this news got to me in the first place.

There's nothing here that an existing self-publisher doesn't already know; for those of you who don't know a lot about self-publishing, though, the collected content above is a treasure trove of thought-provoking statements and well-reasoned arguments for why more authors should be publishing their own books, instead of handing their babies over to the mainstream publishing industry. Wary? Consider this tidbit from Mr. Green's entry - that the vast, vast majority of novels published anymore by mainstream publishing companies sell less than 5,000 copies nationwide (and most a lot less - a few hundred in most cases). Not to mention, mainstream publishing companies for the most part have stopped spending any promotional money on these novels - even after the book is out, it's the author's job to set up a tour on their own, book their own appearances, run their own advertisements, and pay for the entire thing themselves.

As someone who's been self-publishing myself for ten years now, I can absolutely guarantee that a self-publisher can meet or break these national averages for most new novels. And in the meanwhile, not only are you in complete control over how the book reads and looks, but you're also keeping all the money the book makes (as opposed to getting only ten to fifteen percent of the cover price, as it works with most mainstream publishers). Not to mention, there's no need to convince some bitter failed novelist who's now a publishing executive why they should publish your book in the first place. Self-publishing is a concept whose time has definitely come; I encourage all writers out there to spend more time seriously contemplating such a project themselves.