30 November 2009

How taboo is self-publishing really?

How taboo is self-publishing really?

By Nicole E. Avery
GVL Columnist

I do realize the irony of advocating self-publishing in a printed column, but I think this topic is often just shrugged off as being taboo when its really deserves closer inspection.

The reason why I like the idea of self-publishing is because I like control, and it puts the control of your career as a writer in your own hands.

When I sat down and thought about the pros and cons of self-publishing and about writing in general I realized successful writers are successful because people like how they write but more importantly what they write.

Think about Christians. They advocate Jesus and we gobble it up, beg for more and then turn around and spread the Gospel to someone else.

Think about Rappers. One of my particular favorites is Ludacris -- he sold mix tapes until he got signed.

Aren't these all really just ways of self-publishing the product you are trying to market?
Is self-publishing frowned upon because it defies the way things are traditionally done?

Some will say it's not the same, but I believe it is exactly the same.

Self-publishing is a writer's way of making a mix tape and getting it out to be "heard." Maybe I'm too eager or to hasty, but time is so precious and I want to get the ball rolling, not wait 20 years to become discovered. I want to give myself that extra push.

I am not encouraging anyone to publish what isn't polished. I wouldn't self-publish without having an editor and a group of people I trust read my final draft and offer their personal opinions.

I'm also not encouraging people to stop sending out their writing to publishers -- I think both avenues for getting your work published have their own place. Everything you write doesn't have to be traditionally published, but having some type of work, whether it be creative or professional, in print would add to your credibility as a writer.

Your mom shouldn't be your biggest fan -- you should be your biggest fan. Why not promote yourself?

There are a couple things on which both supporters of traditional publishing and advocates for self-publishing would agree.

Research different publishers and publishing options. To succeed in a market you need to understand how the market works, what is selling and why.

I feel most comfortable with the idea of self-publishing my works on Lulu.com. The process is straightforward, the different publishing plans allow me to control how everything is done from the illustrations to the type of pages and paper used. This online self-publishing site was introduced to me by a fellow Grand Valley State University writer, who in his senior year published a book of poems now sold on Amazon and locally at Schuler Books and Music.

You also need to be sure you're ready. I look at hiring an editor the same way a musician would their private lessons instructor or an ice skater would their coach. I do not pretend to have it all figured out -- I want and need extra guidance.

I just cannot resist the urge to make it happen instead of waiting for it to happen. I'm thrilled by the self-empowerment provided through self-publishing. You can have a dream and make it happen.

You can always reach for the stars, but sometimes you need to just grab them right out of the sky.


1 comment:

Aryel Nachman said...

Nicole, As you know, my first book (Zeyde and the Hidden Mine) was published through Lulu. It was good enough to get me a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and make it to the top 10 for the Americam Library Association's Best Book Young Adults. Not to mention 6 other award nominations.

Publishing companies today are mostly concerned with marketability. It is far safer to stay with known names and themes, than to take a chance on an unknown. So, like the bloggers, the writer goes to the self publising houses. If the book is any good, the big houses will take note.