Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why I Embrace Self-Publishing

By Stella Atrium

I saw a solicitation for a tenured position at my alma mater for which I will apply.  Professors seldom leave this department, and competition for vacancies is fierce. I experienced sudden anxiety as though my whole future depended on submitting a stellar letter with quality documentation.  I recognized that tense feeling as the same I felt when approaching agents and publishers.

And then I had an epiphany, not unusual for a spring day in windy Chicago. girls kite

As a self-publisher, those feeling of anxiety are mostly absent. In fact, I just completed a round of letters sent with review copies that were requested in response to a press release that I wrote.  I jotted off the letters citing connections with the group through a PR service (cost: $175), and good reports about my fantasy novel launched in January 2012.  While I completed the “shipping and handling” exercise, I considered getting an assistant for this busy work. That’s how low the work was on my scale of importance.

I have skills for promoting, and for creative writing. So why was I so anxious about traditional publishers and the agents who lunch with them?

I was victim to no fewer than three (count them 3) printers who called themselves publishers, including the infamous Publish America.  I never received positive results from any of their promised marketing efforts.  Nada, zip, zero.

long kiteHere’s an analogy. I was raised in the country, and each spring we had to clean the slough of debris.  We opened a trap that served as a bottleneck and flushed fresh water through along with the sticks and leaves and earthworms. Soon the fresh water ran clear.

Maybe the same is true with self-publishing.  Sure, some writers should take more classes, and some self-promoters should take a breath.  But the new shape of the publishing industry sorts the quality (and ambitious) writers from the sticks and earthworms.  Soon enough books from the fresh writer who lived with frustration all this time will flow freely to readers, so that great characters and original work find an audience.

I will continue with a small publisher because the quality of the product is better than I can weave together on the laptop. I will avoid Smashwords and offering books for free because I believe reviewers who work with magazines find that level of publishing repugnant.

But here’s the question…  If I can make a website and blog, connect with writers and readers on Twitter, GoodReads and LibraryThing, and grab press release leads for $175, then why were writers willing to pay $4500+ to agents (or marketing executives) for less response?

All those self-important agents and publishers and advisors and naysayers can go fly a kite on this windy spring day. 

1 comment:

Dexter said...

Great analogy, but maybe a septic tank would be more apt.

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