Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Self-Publishing War, illustrated with sarcasm.

In the self-publishing blog-o-sphere, I’ve noticed a somewhat invisible (or perhaps not so invisible) war raging between self-publishers that use an assisted publishing service and those that take the DIY approach. I personally am in the DIY camp and will gladly explain why this is the best choice for me. I repeat, for me. However, I’ve received fire from the other camp in blog comments or conversations that go something like this:

Well, good for you miss technologic-mc-technology fingers. I don’t even know how to tri-fold a piece of paper into an envelope, you think I can figure out where margins go?? What should I do, just quit my life and get a PhD in graphic design? Have fun making really bad covers while I have professionals work on my book. Because I am an AUTHOR. I WRITE. My readers care about the STORY and that’s my job, the STORY part. I can’t just waste my time learning about indents when I have all these STORIES. And just like any good writer I get an editor. I do IDEAS not COMMAS. Besides, I get up at four A.M. eight days a week just to get all my writing done, where will I find time to format a 200,000 word book? Real authors ain’t got time for that! You’re the reason self-publishing sucks because you think you can do it all by yourself and publish horrible covers and badly put together Frankenbooks. Hope you can sleep at night knowing you are turning self-publishing into a laughing stock while I get people who actually know what they’re doing to package all my awesome authorly ideas! It’s your fault books like mine don’t get a chance.

On the flipside, I’ve read blog posts outlining why using a publishing service has been the right choice for an author. Inevitably there are comments below the post that read like this:

Ooh, it looks like somebody has money! I’d like to bring you down to the real world. I’ll only ever have fifty, maybe, MAYBE, seventy-five cents to put toward my book, but I’m glad you had fistfuls of cash handed to you to burn on publishing. You know you can publish a book for free, right? Sure I don’t have any money to spend on marketing, advertising, giveaway copies, promotional materials, book events or business cards, but at least I don’t have five grand to make up for just getting an ISBN and some cute impersonal stock photos for my cover. Because guess what? I’m a MICRO-PUBLISHER and it says so on my facebook page. I’m like a CEO. I do way more than write. I have to think about things instead of handing out some greenbacks for someone else to do the not-fun parts of self-publishing. It’s all your fault for turning self-publishing into a vanity fair! You just need thousands of dollars and ta-da, author! How about some blood, sweat, and tears, huh? You’re the reason books like mine get a bad reputation.

All right.
I don’t care what side you’re on, if you’re so defensive about how you’re doing publishing, you just make yourself look dumb. Because both the tirades above are right: either route done badly is a great blow to the “self-pub image.” But either route done well is likely going to be the best choice for that particular author. Time, money, and management skills are necessary in self-publishing, regardless of the means. And what matters most is the book. If you aren’t writing the best book you can, it doesn’t matter how you publish or how that guy over there is publishing. If the book isn’t the center of your focus and falls short in execution, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.