What’s the Buzz? – Self Publishing

RWA Nationals 2011 had loads of inspiration gushing from every workshop, meal function and hallway conversation. You name it. I loved it. But I usually do. The annual RWA conference is a drug that fills you up with the kind of joy and excitement that can keep you motivated through New Year’s Eve.

But that’s what Nationals is all about. The people. The connections. The camaraderie. The inspiration.

But like in other years, there’s always one topic that haunts me. No matter where I went or what the workshop was supposed to be all about – this subject found a way to worm itself into the moment…yep, I’m talking about self-publishing.

At my RWA 11, there wasn’t one workshop, luncheon or publisher’s spotlight that didn’t feature a comment (or more than one) about self-publishing. And those comments varied dramatically in tone and flare.

Some agents and editors delivered narrow-eyed statements about vanity publishers. Others gave straight-forward, finger wagging warnings about how much hard work was required and how little time a writer would have left to write if they seriously intended to make a go of it via publishing their own works. And then there were the digs about how all of this effort would earn you only a few pennies – if that.

On the other hand, there were a few supporters. Those industry professionals who made it clear that for some authors — for example those who owned their own back lists — self-publishing could well be a good option with the right team (and some solid research). There were even a few self-publishing houses mentioned as worth their weight in gold (sorry I didn’t take notes on these comments so I don’t have examples).

Now where do I fall in all of this?

To some extent, I had the same knee jerk reaction that a lot of writers have about self-publishing: vanity publishing with a new coat of paint.

We also heard a lot of this talk at the WRW-DC Retreat. But to me the tone was different. I didn’t get a sense of foreboding — maybe a few gulps from a couple of agents and an editor or two. But there was a willingness to ‘see’ how it all shook out over time — wait a minute before lumping the topic into the same barrel of badness.

But at RWA National, there seemed to be more of a campaign to condemn (or maybe that was just in the workshops I attended). But so much so it reminded me of a few years ago when e-publishing was dismissed as flash-in-the-pan vanity publishing at its ugliest (maybe a little melodramatic, but oh well). This year Samhain Publishing and Carina Press had spotlights!

Nonetheless with all of this said – I must admit I am old school. I like the idea of writing a synopsis, submitting the first 50 pages (and yes, I pitched and got a request:) and getting that rejection letter in the mail (or the phone call of joy). As a pre-published writer, self-publishing is the last thing on my mind – whether it be good, bad or in-between. I crave the traditional pain and suffering:)…an agent, an editor, a publishing house and rejection letters – before of exhilaration of signing that first contract and viewing that first cover.

I just want to worry about writing (and branding, and marketing:), and yes, all of this coming from a woman who has owned her own business for nearly 20 years.

But what do you think? Would you consider self-publishing?  Are you already self-published?

What’s your take on the self-publishing buzz?