But There’s The Context Thing

August 9th, 2004 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

Self-publishing, like any publishing choice, is a highly personal decision. In our experience, those who choose to self-publish fall into two broad categories: the first, people who just want their books published, no matter what (and no matter the quality of the work; this is our mental definition of vanity publishing); second, those who have tried every avenue and, despite strong work, cannot get published. It is usually the latter who find eventual success via traditional publishing routes.

We will not deny that self-publishing scams exist (this is the modern world) and we will not suggest that self-publishing will save anyone’s life. But we cannot accept the argument that (all) self-publishing skates close to the edge of fraud:

I can’t honestly call it fraud, because it doesn’t meet the legal definition: Stealing a writer’s dreams does not count as depriving him or her of a property interest. I can call it “intellectually dishonest” at best… and much nastier things, too.

The author of the article quotes from another article but chooses not to link back (“protecting the innocent”), thus we are left with his analysis — no context for making our own choices. Isn’t that equally intellectually dishonest?

After striking out various self-published success stories, as indicated in the source material, for various reasons (though we’d suggest there is some commercial validity in poetry as evidenced by the fact that publishers still buy and print books of poetry), the author concludes the success of self-published works is overrated:

Perhaps self-publishing has been successful, for some authors. It does not follow, though, that it therefore holds out any reasonable possibility of success for authors who are competing against seasoned commercial publishers for the same market niche.

We glanced back through our archives, because we recalled writing about self-publishing quite frequently over the past few months. We were not surprised to find a variety of posts from a variety of angles — and more than a few about self-publishing success stories (small sampling below). Perhaps it depends on how you define success. We doubt most self-published authors hold out hopes of hitting the USA Today lists or going head-to-head with offerings from Random House. But success means different things to different people, and if you achieve your goals, isn’t that indicative of, well, success?

And yes, as always, we recommend that any author choosing any publishing route educate himself (or herself, as the case may be) about the pros, the cons, the good, the bad, the ridiculous, the contract elements that seem so logical, but aren’t…

File Under: Books/Mags/Blogs

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