Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Backword Book Contest- My Entry

For those of you who haven't heard of this through other writer-publisher Twitters, The Backword Books Blog, a collective of self-published authors, is throwing a contest in order to create more buzz/ dialogue on the very, very broad topic of self-publishing. The rules:

The rules: We want to hear your thoughts about self-publishing – a blog post about the merits of self-publishing and how it might change the face of publishing in the future. What will self-publishing look like 25 years from now, 50 years from now? How has self-publishing made strides in recent years? That sort of thing. The drawbacks of self-publishing are welcome as well, but a scathing attack on self-publishing probably isn’t going to do it for us. Basically, we want to know: What’s your opinion about self-publishing?
(Rule #2 includes making them aware of your posting- visit the original post for details.)

SOOO, here goes. There is so much I have read about self-publishing and so much to say, so I am going to limit myself to addressing how self-publishing has made strides and the drawbacks of self-publishing.

Years ago, self-publishing was viewed as a fall back for people who weren't skilled enough to be traditionally published. If you don't know how tough it is for any writer to get published, this would be a natural assumption. In addition, the fact that anyone can self-publish means that many sloppy or unskilled writers do self-publish, which reinforces the stigma of self-publishing.

The drawback to self-publishing is that the stigma has not entirely died. However, it has most definitely lessened. There are a number of authors, even if they are a minority,who have used self-publishing to gain recognition and eventually had their self-published books or subsequent books traditionally published. In my s.o.'s experience, self-publishing has helped him to gain recognition as a serious author and led to a book award that agents have said will go a long way in a query letter to influence them to look at future work.

On the downside, a self-published writer still has to do all his own marketing, which is both time-consuming and costly. Yet, many traditionally published writers who are published through smaller presses are put in the same boat. Newer authors in this situation may initially be under the illusion that all the marketing will be done for them, and struggle when the book does not get much press. For a self-published author, there is no illusion. Again, based on personal experience, what I and the s.o. have learned about marketing and networking through our self-publishing experience is not only helping now, but will continue to be a resource we will tap into when he has a future book (fingers crossed) traditionally published.

Also, as a final thought, there are plenty of writers who would like to get their ideas out there, leave stories for their families, etc., who genuinely don't care about going through the work, and ups and downs, that it would take to *possibly* become the next big seller. For people in this situation, self-publishing is exactly what they need.

I'm what I like to all a recreational poet. I don't have the time or discipline to make poetry my life. Maybe one day I will, but for now I value my teaching career; I like to fence in my spare time; and I love traveling, watching movies and good TV and spending time with family and friends. If down the road I eventually had a book of poems, but not the time or inclination to send them out again and again to journals and agents, I would definitely consider self-publishing for the joy of seeing them in print and gleaning even a handful of sales.

As for the future of self-publishing, it's not going away, but I have no idea exactly where it will go! I guess we'll just have to wait and see. :)

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