This post is more or less to get the ball rolling and to further explain what this group is for, what the people in this group do, and why it might be of interest to others to look into it. In this post, I do a little bit of Q&A about the general idea behind independent authorship and self-publishing.
- What is Independent Authorship and Self Publishing?
For anything to be considered and understood, it must first be defined. For several hundred years, books have come to readers in a singular form: the author writes the book, it is submitted to large publishing houses, and the book is distributed to brick-and-mortar bookstores (and, nowadays, online as well). The reader purchases the book, reads it, and keeps it on a shelf for later reading, for glamorous reasons (to impress guests), or they may pass it off to a friend once they are done with it.
That has all changed with the advent of the internet, and further through the creation of companies that allow individuals to take control of their own works and distribute them personally, or to allow micro and small publishers to find printing resources more easily, or even for medium and large publishers to offset some of their costs by printing some/riskier titles on a print-on-demand basis.
- Are self-published books lower quality than traditionally-published books?
Yes and no. As with any book, you must take the author and his or her resulting work on a case by case basis. Are a majority of self-published books bad? Yes; the why is in the quality control. When submitting to a large publisher, the book goes before editors, proofreaders, and critics to check the quality and profitability of a book. If it’s not up to their standards (the standards set by evidence of sales and quality in the same genre), the publisher will not carry the book.
On the other hand, some self-published works are very, very good, and it’s a shame that some of these authors can’t be signed with major publishing houses as they would like.
Since self-published works need only someone willing to submit files to a printer, the quality controls are not always there. Some aspiring authors may write a book that has not been proofread, or that is highly inconsistent, or, unfortunately, is just not that good of a story, and then they publish the book independently, through a subsidy publisher, or through a small or micro publisher to get it out the door.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as I will explain as I continue; however, the simple fact of the matter is that, when self-publishing, you will have a stigma that others create for you before your book even hits the market: self-published books, on average, are usually bad.
- What can I do to make my book better?
The best thing to do is to get together with someone you know who is quite knowledgeable in the English language. If they like to read your genre, it can be a plus, but it is not a requirement. After the book is proofread and edited, you can submit it to others, such as reviewers or critics, to tell you what they think of the book, and they may even be able to give you tips to make it better.
The Midwest Book Review is an example of a group of reviewers who are more than happy to check out self-published works and let you know what they think. Hats off to them, too; self-publishers need reviews just like any other author.
Of course, as this group grows, you may find others here who are willing to help you out. Whether it is reviewing your work or helping you with the many stages of publication, that’s the goal here.
- What are the benefits of self-publishing?
It can be very rewarding to see and feel your final book in print, and to have friends and family purchase a copy and request your autograph inside the cover. It is even more rewarding, of course, to have perfect strangers pick up your titles and send you feedback, whether good or bad. You made the sale, and people are reading it in either case.
Additionally, you can develop your own brand identity if you self-publish. People who see your company logo on the product can associate that work with others you have written. Those who enjoyed your last book may be more willing to purchase the next one in the series or other titles that you produce.
On the other hand, the road of the self-publisher is fraught with perils and obstacles not easily overcome by the common man, so be prepared for the technical difficulties if you decide to do it all yourself. There is a reason, after all, that publishers require a hefty part of a author’s royalties; they do all of the technical work for you, at a price.
- More to come!
I plan on writing other such posts to help others, and hopefully some others who have experience in different parts of the process will also write some helpful tips for the knowledge base here.