This post, by Matthew Iden, originally appeared on his site on 4/25/12.
There is a passage in Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book Outliers that, at its heart, speaks volumes about why writers should self-publish.
[T]hree things—autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether our works fulfills us. …Work that fulfills those three criteria is meaningful.
Over and over again on websites and in personal correspondence, I hear writers who have chosen to self-publish talk about how energized (or re-energized) they are. While there’s the inevitable grousing about low-sales numbers or promotions gone haywire, rarely are there complaints about the work itself. I know I find myself ready to write every day, eager to get to the page and get my latest words down.
That’s because, according to Gladwell’s definition, self-publishing is meaningful work.
The vast majority of would-be writers get up in the morning and write for a faceless agent at an unknown agency. They write so they can add their manuscript to a growing pile of manuscripts so large that at some agencies the interns can sit on them like chairs. That manuscript may be rejected for any number of reasons that, in most cases, will never be communicated to the author, leaving no opportunity for improvement.
The self-published author writes for himself or herself and sets the standard for quality, content, and length. There are no bosses—or, they are the best kind to have: readers and fans. Writing for yourself means there are no barriers or go-betweens. The relationship consists of you and your audience, and that’s it.