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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another option added to the mix (Oh my aching head)!

I came across a link the other day that was very intriguing (and, of course, have since lost said link). But the link was about self-publishing on Amazon's Digital Text Platform.

Self-publishing still has a lot of stigma attached to it. Lots of people are doing it, but there is still a lot of the "wasn't it good enough to be traditionally published?" and "big whoop, you're self-published, any fool could do that" attitudes about self-publishing (whether through vanity publishing or a print-on-demand publisher).

First, a little about the differences, as I understand them: vanity publishing is when you pay a publisher to produce copies of your book; self-publishing is usually done through print on demand, where you provide your book to a publisher and they print it only to fill orders. In the case of the first, you have to come up with money up-front and have a certain print run of books done. In the second, no upfront money is usually required; the publisher takes their cut from each order. In the first, you might be stuck trying to unload the 100 book minimum the publisher requires for a run, trying to recoup your costs. In the second, if only three books sell, those three books are the only ones that ever see the light of day (but at least you aren't out any cash). That's how I understand it anyway. I've never tried either method, so I'm not an expert (I also haven't tried to have a book published through traditional means, either).

So when I heard about Amazon's Digital Platform, I had to go take a look. Basically, it's works just like the self-publishing I've described above, except no books get printed. It's all done digitally on e-readers. You upload a digital copy of your book, Amazon puts it up for sale, and people buy it and download it onto their e-reader (or PC, or whatever). No money exchanges hands until an order is placed; Amazon takes their cut and you get the rest.

I still haven't made up my mind about how I feel about self-publishing, so my initial feelings about Digital Platform publishing are mixed, too.

But the first thing I thought of was, "Geez! You have to do all the marketing yourself!" But according to all the publishing industry experts, most of the marketing for traditionally published books is left up to the writer, too. So does it really make a difference? At least with self-publishing, you don't have the endless querying and long waits for responses. You write your book, polish your book, make a cover, and start selling (or trying to sell, anyway).

But there's still that stigma!

One could argue that if a book isn't accepted by a traditional publisher, then it's not good enough to be published (a miss-spelled, awkwardly written, flaming pile of poo, I heard one anti-self-publishing writer call a self-published book). And that may be true in some cases (maybe even most). But how many bestsellers were passed over by many, many publishing houses, then rose to bestseller? Sometimes, the editors really do make a bad call and pass on something that's gold. How do you know if your novel is gold?

I just don't know. The pros and cons are almost equally matched. But I'm still going to try for traditional publishing options when I get my novels finished. I just don't think I'll be satisfied unless I try traditional publishing, first.

What do you think? Self-publishing: new writer's dream, or really, really bad idea?

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