Why I Embrace Self-Publishing
By Stella Atrium
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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
All those self-important agents and publishers and advisors and naysayers can go fly a kite on this windy spring day.