My Big Rant On Self-Publishing

This piece, by Jane Friedman of Writer’s Digest, originally appeared on her There Are No Rules blog on 2/27/09.

I can’t tell you how tired I am of hearing people bash self-publishing. The things I hear usually fall into two categories:

  • Most self-published books aren’t quality
  • Some self-publishing services are unethical

If you agree with one of the above statements, let me lay it out real clear for you: The landscape is changing, and if you haven’t noticed, you’re behind the times. This particular blog post addresses the quality issue, because the ethics issue is becoming less of a problem. The moment any self-pub service tries to pull a fast one or do something questionable, it’s trumpeted far and wide online. And often it’s the people who aren’t doing their research and due diligence that get taken advantage of. I’m not saying it’s right for this to happen, nor do I condone it, but all industries have bad eggs.

But moving on, consider:

  • Traditional publishers now rely on authors to do all the marketing and promotion. It used to be that writers could concentrate on writing and forget about that icky sales and marketing stuff. Well, welcome to the new world. Marketing is now expected from authors. And authors who survive will be the ones who find ways to authentically grow their platform and meaningfully reach their readership.
  • Communities will decide what books are worthwhile, and communities won’t have ego-filled judgments. Publishers will always be giving their authors one thing that is hard to come by: a measure of instant credibility. (That is: Someone thought this was good enough to take a financial risk on.) In good scenarios, there is also collaboration: to make a good book a great book. But soon, communities will have as much power as publishers to decide what books deserve attention. Plus you and I will be more likely to trust judgments coming from people we know and have something in common with, not necessarily The New York Times. It goes back to the whole end of cultural authority.

Read the rest of the article at the There Are No Rules blog.