Self Publishing: A Positive Or A Negative?

I read an interesting post the other day about indie publishing over at The article in question,  How Indie Publishing Could Revolutionize Expression But Often Doesn’t, had a title that intrigued me.

It’s a good read, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. So I figured I’d write something of my own.

In his post, author André Klein talks about the ease of modern day “publishing” and whether or not to publish.

To (unfairly) sum up, Klein seems to be saying that a writer’s ability to self publish hasn’t necessarily increased the amount of good books available, but has mainly succeeded in producing “more of the same, less of something else.”

In the end I wasn’t sure if Klein was for or against self publishing, but he did sum up nicely by saying,

The fact that I can publish something quickly doesn’t mean that it gets easier to publish something great, but it certainly allows for experimentation and creative development beyond my wildest dreams.

Makes me think he’s mostly for it.

As a writer, and an avid reader, I am absolutely for self publishing.

I’ll address it first as a reader. The ease with which new authors can put their work out thrills and excites me. There are certainly more than a few great manuscripts that were never published because someone didn’t think the book would sell.

Imagine if someone had passed up Gene Wolf because his writing was far too inaccessible for a large audience. Or if someone had passed on House of Leaves (which many did) because of its complexity.

Of course there are going to be people publishing books that attempt to copy Twilight or Hunger Games’ success, and really, who am I to look down on them. I want to say that those people, the ones that write a book for money, aren’t writers in their heart…but I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

If you write a book and someone enjoys reading it, well, I believe that’s enough right there.

Self publishing (especially in digital format) is still so new. I can’t wait to see what some writers eventually put out when they don’t need some entity to print and distribute their book for them.

In case you didn’t go out and read Klein’s post, I don’t necessarily think he’d disagree with any of this, but I’d be interested to hear his or your thoughts.

As a writer (and a bit of a stubborn individual) self publishing is just about the greatest thing I can think of. The idea that I can write a book, edit it, polish it up, then pay for someone else to edit it, and finally give it to you, without anyone else ever getting in the way, is like a dream come true. It’s like…it’s like magic that has made my oldest dream a reality.

No one is standing in the way of me giving my writing to the world.

Publishers and agents have always seemed like a nuisance to me. They’re something that I had to get in order to have my books go out to the world, which is really all I want. Of course I’d love to make millions of dollars, but that has never been the point.

In a recent interview conducted by Neil Gaiman, Stephen King said,

They pay me absurd amounts of money, for something I would do for free.

And isn’t that the truth for a genuine writer? It’s something we’d all do for free, not because we want to, but because we have to. Because there are stories that need to be told.

I need to write. I’m unhappy if I don’t. I can’t stop thinking of things to write. And with the advent of self publishing, I can directly publish all of my own work, interact directly with my readers, and give them my content in whatever form they want.


Moving on, here is my last point, the point I thought Klein was going to make when I read his title.

When are we going to see an a big name author, a King or a Gaiman, put out a book without a publisher? When will a best-selling author take a page out of Radiohead or Louis C.K.’s book?

These authors could set a new standard for the entire writing community. They could put out their books by themselves, set their own costs, and give their books to their readers in a multitude of formats.

There is no one more important to a writer than you, dear reader, and I can’t imagine why any writer wouldn’t want to do this for you.

To be completely honest, there may very well be reasons that these authors haven’t chose to self publish, but I don’t know what they are. So, if you do, please let me know.

To me it seems that the question becomes, am I writing to make money or am I writing for the love of the art? I do believe the two can be mutually exclusive, and I don’t believe that one is better than the other.

The appeal of a major publisher to me is their ability to market myself and my book better than I can on my own. To get my face and name out there, which would get me more readers and more money.

But I then have to ask myself, what is the trade off? Where do I, and all of the authors of the world, want to compromise? Potentially reaching a smaller audience, but being in direct control of how you reach them. Or reaching a bigger audience, but at the whim of something other than yourself.

For me the right answer is the former. Self publishing doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller audience, but going with a major publisher does mean someone else can control my content.

I’m just wondering who the first best-selling author will be to stop fighting the inevitable and embrase what writing and reading is becoming. Who will embrace the digital revolution that is sweeping the earth?

As always, I’d love to hear any and all thoughts, especially why I’m wrong. So shoot me an email or leave me a comment with any of your notes or thoughts.


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