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?

9 thoughts on “What’s the Buzz? – Self Publishing

  1. Denny,
    Great article this morning! And yes, always a topic lurking in our heads lately. I like the fact you mentioned e-publishing too. For so long it was something to be questioned because it was yet to be wildly accepted (or widely).
    Self-publishing though? Being the first to comment is going to be tough so please excuse my personal thoughts and hope I don’t offend anyone. To me, it still sounds like an idea for those only wanting to publish one book or a family memoir.
    I worked with a publishing company briefly (I won’t give name) who claimed they weren’t a POD but had many similarities with one but worse than that, they were not there as a publisher should be for their authors. So many had the dream we all have and had nothing but problems once they received the contract. It left a bad taste in my mouth for anything but the real deal.
    Also, I still would like to work with someone who has the experience to see my work get out to the proper audience. Though I do have some marketing skills, I’m not a salesman and don’t have the connections a publisher or agent would have.
    But with the invent of e-publishing and the market today, anything is possible and I may be one of them who is out of the loop on what is really working. I wish anyone the best with however they get published. Now days with the internet and all of it’s connections, getting your name out there is a lot easier so again, it maybe just a matter of who you know and how you promote your book.
    Then there is the issue of money, can I afford to self-publish? For those who can and have done their research and it works for them–go for it.
    Sorry for the long comment–but great topic–tough one too. Would like to hear what others think.

    1. I am right there with you:)…self publishing sounds like too much work and does not appeal to me as an option at this stage of my career.

      Yet, the availability of tools such as those on amazon.com might tempt us all down the road.

  2. Good post, Denny-Mermaid! I’m really up for all forms of publishing and I truly believe there is room for everything.

    But for me personally, because I’m not published yet, I am going to keep at it with the traditional route. Why? Because I fear putting my work out there without a proper editor and support team. I would never want to represent myself and my work in any kind of bad light.

    But I continue to listen to the debates for and against self-publishing. I think it’s fascinating and I wish much success to all! 😉

    1. What I’m getting from the Mermaids commenting here is that we are open-minded and won’t dismiss this topic out right, but it’s not something we are pursuing at this fork in the road…and that makes sense to me!

  3. Denny – great post! For me, self-publishing isn’t on my radar until I am published by a traditional or digital house. I’m too new a this and I wouldn’t want my first efforts to be out there without the backing and oversight of an editor etc. – the internet is forever. Besides, I need to focus on writing now and improving my craft and submitting – not all the business stuff that would be necessary to do it right.

  4. I truly admire the people who have chosen the self-publishing route. I don’t think it is for me, today, but the industry is changing so quickly, I’m keeping an open mind.

  5. Hi Denny, great post.
    What I hear from my fellow mermaids on this topic is that we want to have the team behind us of a traditional publisher to ensure that only our best work gets put out and I have to say I agree 100%. That being said, I spoke with a writer at one of the RWA lunches who had several manuscripts that had won major contests including the Golden Heart. However,they’d all been passed on when she submitted them. So for her, she felt she had the validation that the work was good due to her wins and postitive feedback. With that assuredness under her belt, she chose to self-publish those titles. I could see her point as well. Just one more thing to think about I guess!

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