Ten years ago self-publishing was viewed as a fad rooted in vanity; only those who couldn’t hack it under the traditional system went the do-it-yourself route. With the advent of digital publishing, the paradigm has changed, self-publishing is a legitimate choice, master of your own destiny, blah blah blah, you’ve heard this story before.
What’s funny is, the adherents would have you believe that once you self-publish, the scales will fall from your eyes and you’ll recognize self-publishing as the One True Path. Traditional publishing will reveal itself to be a lost circle of Dante Alighieri’s Hell, full of damaged souls who want to enrich themselves off your work while destroying every shred of your creativity.
I call shenanigans: Last year I self-published a novella, and all it did was encourage me to get an agent and seek a traditional deal for my full-length novel. If indeed there are scales on my eyes, they are still firmly in place.
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Since publication, I’ve sold around 200 copies, and given another 800 away for free through Amazon’s KDP program. I’ve made enough money to cover the cost of the cover and a nice bottle of whiskey.
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Yet, not for a second did I consider self-publishing my full-length novel. The goals here are different: I want this book in bookstores. I want the cachet that comes with getting a traditional publishing deal. I want to get invited to better parties.
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Here’s the thing: My dream career as a writer involves a mix of self-publishing and traditional publishing. One supporting the other. I want to be a hybrid author, a model used successfully by authors like Chuck Wendig (a man often shouted at by self-publishing proponents for taking a middle position).
My novella is available now, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for a deal on my novel. Then maybe I write another novella, or I collect some of my short stories, and I self-publish that. Afterward, I write another novel and hand it off to my agent. The cycle repeats. I have a mix of books, some of which earn me the perks of being a traditionally-published author, while others offer me a greater return of profits and more creative freedom.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit the narrative of self-publishing’s champions. But here’s the truth: Some of them are just as bad as the evil traditional publishing executives who want to ride your work to fame and fortune. Because those self-pubbing pros are doing the same thing—staking out “expert” positions and writing glowing blog posts about self-publishing, and the link to their Amazon storefront is at the bottom of the post.
Link to the rest at Salon and thanks to L for the tip.