I read quite a lot each day about the issues going on in the publishing world, but in particular about self-publishing and the part it now plays within the industry of book publishing. Note the subtle emphasis on the word within. Say nothing—keep it under your hat—just maybe they, the industry, won’t notice! What is significant today is, much of what appears in trade magazines, news services, publisher and writer blogs, as well as the wider media dealing with the latest technological and digital advances in publishing is just as relevant to independent and self-published authors as it is to the most seasoned publishing houses or bestselling authors.
I would go further and suggest the challenges facing publishing houses—trade and independent—in the current economic climate are what self-publishing authors experience in their microcosm world of publishing. Make no mistake—self-publishing a book is a business decision and slowly but surely, authors entering the field are realising this fact.
Self-published authors have long been dealing with the commercial dilemmas of e-book platforms and formats, targeting, and crucially, engaging their readership with carefully but aggressively led viral marketing plans. What self-published authors are quickly learning, particularly authors of non-fiction, is that the paper product of "book" is not necessarily always the primary selling point. It can often simply be a promotional tool used to present an idea, service, strategy or philosophy.
The core focus of POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing has always been to look at global publishing from the perspective of the author considering the possibility of publishing his book outside of the mainstream channels—that is—sans literary agent and even the sniff of a publisher or small press of any kind. I’ve never seen self-publishing as some form of compartmentalised oddity on the soles of the publishing industry’s shoes, or the guy who hawks folded and stapled A4 sheets of verse through the pubs of Ireland. This romantic notion of bard with verse may have once been the view of self-publishing in its bad old days of vanity publishers, but it no longer reflects the burgeoning industry within a larger industry.
Though our pub crawler with his sheets of stapled verse may consider himself as published and legitimate an author as Joyce, Yeats, Hemmingway, Pynchon or Picoult, the fact is, the self-published fraternity have dramatically upped their game in the past ten years. Self-publishing may have an unfair perception of poor-quality books and content, but is no longer the outpost for Aunt Maple’s home recipes for family and friends. It is now the playing field of talented authors with true and original voices, as well as highly motivated business entrepreneurs.