I've been scouring the internet today, sort of at random, and to be honest I can't even remember what started this whole journey this morning. I kind of feel like I've been wasting time doing something I probably shouldn't be - because it's fun - which opens me up to a whole mess of psychoanalysis, but I digress. Sometimes I
Let's take that little metaphor a step further. When you give birth to a child, you don't just give birth and then leave it to its own devices. You have to feed it, clothe it, love it, nourish it, teach it, understand it, guide it, cherish it... otherwise you may have a serial killer or a sociopath on your hands. Not good. When you self-publish, you have to nourish your audience, promote your book, and market yourself as an author and a brand. Yes, this may take some monetary and time investment, but it doesn't have to break the bank.
So, what is the difference between self-publishing and self-publishing WELL???
In a nutshell, it's taking pride in your work (which - unfortunately - hardly anyone does anymore no matter what industry we're talking about, at least in my experience). Make sure that you've done everything in your power to bring your book to a point of professionalism and excellence. It doesn't have to be perfect; nothing is. However, excellence is definitely achievable, even for us lowly self-publishers. Why do I say that? Because the stigma is still there. Why is it still there? Because indie authors are too eager to get the book out there to put it through that rigorous process I mentioned earlier.
Now, don't get me wrong... I completely understand. The last thing you want to do after finishing your novel is wait to publish. It's entirely too easy to find yourself feeling antsy and impatient once the ending is written, even if you haven't revised yet. However, think of it this way... if you know that a traditional publisher or agent would reject this book based solely on its unpolished, unrevised presentation, why would you subject the public - your readers - to it? Further, why would you put something out there that may inadvertently perpetuate the type of illiteracy that plagues our country these days? I don't know about you, but it drives me batshit when I see a billboard or advertisement with misspellings on it (unless they're obviously deliberate). It drives me batshit when I read emails or social media posts riddled with epic failures like, "wait lost" instead of "weight loss." It drives me batshit when I'm editing a book and find words like "massage" misspelled. My 11-year-old daughter knows better than that nonsense.
What I find even more puzzling is that I'm not even originally from this country (the US), but somehow my English is better than most college-educated US citizens twice my age. Wait... what??? Yep, you read that right. And that is exactly how it's been for my entire life.
I'd like to change the bad reputation self-publishing still has. Unfortunately, nobody can single-handedly change the world or even an industry, so I'll have to settle for doing what I can =). What I can do is teach other authors like you, especially indie authors, what I know and encourage pride in your work. The big difference between traditional publishing (and please don't confuse this with vanity publishing... that's another beast entirely) and self-publishing is that when you self-publish, you literally have to wear ALL the hats, and yes, hire people to do some of the work for you if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself.
If you do feel comfortable doing it all yourself, you'd better do it well. Your name will be on it (eternally immortalized, even if you try to remove it from existence later on - once it's online, it never goes away completely), which means your reputation is at stake... your credibility, your success, your future. This is actually way easier now than it's ever been because there is so much information available for free online that you can literally learn any skill you could possibly need in life within an hour or three, for free, through the Google machine (case in point, this is how I fix my appliances and make photo-worthy gourmet meals at home).
That also means there are no excuses for someone who calls themselves a writer to publish sloppy drivel. And yes, I am a bit in-your-face about this because I see so much of it on a daily basis that it makes me wonder what literature has come to. The website is called No Bull for a reason.
Being an author, despite having been an underpaid profession in general for a long time, is still a valiant, honorable, and beautiful calling. The difference between self-publishing and self-publishing well?
Those of us who respect and honor the craft refuse to diminish it by publishing crap.
Be a literary artist. Follow your calling. Create worlds with your words. Imagine, innovate, and be the force of creative inspiration you are.
But when you're finished penning that epic closing sentence on the last page, step away for a while and regroup so that you can put on your revision hat, then rinse and repeat to wear your editing hat. Even traditionally published authors revise, revise, and revise some more before sending their work to their editor. If self-published authors as a whole wish to earn the respect and perceived value we so richly deserve for our hard work (because it is indeed hard work), we absolutely must take pride in what we do and give it 110% (hell, make that 150%), even if that means our itchy mouse-clicking fingers need to be subdued for a few weeks before we hit that "publish" button.
Are you ready to help change the self-publishing industry into one that garners respect? One person may not be able to do it, but if we all pull together, we most certainly can.