There Is More Than One Way To Publish Your Work

November 13th, 2006 · 4 Comments
by Kassia Krozser

Let’s play a Monday morning game. Read the following sentence and remove the word “travel”. Then read the sentence again:

Internet technologies have created new forms of publishing that are making it possible for any wannabe travel writer to see their work in print.

Fun, huh? We lie awake all night long thinking of amusements for you. It’s not just travel writers who are finding new opportunities thanks to digital technology — other writers are finding creative ways to sell and publicize their works as well. While there are advantages and disadvantages to publishing your work online (or, horrors!, giving it away for free), the fact of the matter is that certain works naturally lend themselves to the immediacy of the Web.

“But, but,” you sputter. “However do these people make a living?” Ah, well, that’s the question authors have been asking since time immemorial. As much as we all wish it were otherwise, very few of us are growing rich from the hours we spend hunched over our keyboards. For some, the considerable effort expended barely covers the price of coffee. Yet we continue, day after day, week after week, month after, well, you know. It’s not like you can just quit.

You can make money from publishing your work online. Some make money via advertising — the travel writers noted above are well-positioned to get some advertiser love, incoming traffic and user interest willing. Other types of writing do equally well with advertisers. We have seen other web authors try to take advantage of another time-honored tradition among artists: the sponsorship (formerly known as patronage). If being kept is your goal, there is no shame in admitting it. If you ask around, you’ll discover that other humans have equally strange ambitions.

The Observer article notes that some of these adventurous travel writers are turning to print-on-demand to extend their audiences (also, to offer bound copies of their endeavors to family members as the ultimate holiday gift). Do not discount the practical nature of having hardcopy versions of your online efforts — it’s sometimes very difficult to get an Internet connection in Tibet.

We are not suggesting that all of these self-published works are hidden gems. As with any writing in any genre, the really good (or, at least, really useful) stuff will rise to the top. They say the era of the blogger book deal has come to an end (so quickly? We hardly knew ye!), but we all know that publishers are secretly lurking online, desperately seeking the next big thing, whatever that might be. And in some cases, going the traditional publishing route might be a hinderance — all that waiting and distribution and hoping the royalty statements will arrive in a timely manner. It is amazing how slowly the postman walks when he’s carrying big, fat checks.

Every writer dreams of seeing his or her work with a glossy cover (unless matte seems more appropriate — it’s your dream, we will not judge) and lots of lovely typeset pages. If that and only that will satisfy your soul, then we encourage you to keep working to that end. Others, as we are seeing with increasing frequency, are looking at how the entertainment industries are changing, some might say they’re making it up as they go along, and test-driving new ways to get their words out to the readers.

So as you’re banging your head against your monitor, use the jostling of neurons and synapses to turn on some of the creative lights (as we have studied the matter and determined that electricity is “magic”, that’s as far as we can the analogy…or is it metaphor? We so need a refill on caffeine. Where is the nice man with the big pot of coffee?). Try something new and different.

[tags]writing, publishing, self-publishing[/tags]

File Under: Non-Traditional Publishing

4 responses so far ↓

  • Mark Hodson // Nov 20, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    It seems rather cruel raising people’s hopes when this is surely little more than vanity publishing. For writers to make a living they need to be massively outnumbered by readers. If everybody’s is writing, who’s reading, and who’s paying?

  • ktwice // Nov 20, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    As the article noted, there is an element of vanity publishing to some of these. But there is also a growing market for self-published works along these lines. I think it’s really important for authors to take a look at the wide range of possibilities open to them — I would never advocate uninformed decisions to go the self-publishing route; that is how dreams are shattered.

    But I’ve also seen far too many self-publishing success stories to discount that avenue of distribution. As long as you know what you’re getting yourself into, it can be a viable avenue.

  • kirkb // Nov 20, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    Mark – I suppose you could argue that any form of publishing is cruel. Finding an audience isn’t easy, even when a more traditional publisher is supporting your work.

    “Vanity publishing” is an insult that has almost no meaning in a Long Tail world.

  • Maximum Persuasion // Jul 16, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    I’m self-published via Booksurge Publishing and through my own websites via clickbank etc.

    Know what? I don’t regret it nor do I feel ‘lesser’ than regular published authors. After all, I’ve achieved two goals: hit a massive readership base and gotten well compensated for my efforts!

    Can every author who got published the normal route lay claim to that?