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According to articles like this one, which are essentially pep talks for indie authors suffering from shaky confidence, the previous disregard and indeed disrespect aimed at any writers who published their own books or paid for the privilege via a vanity press – even though there are famous self-made success stories throughout literary history – is gradually fading. The reason for this is that those isolated examples are now becoming much more common, as evidenced by bestseller lists dominated by DIY authors.
This major shift in both public and professional opinion is almost as abrupt a social sea change as the currently broad acceptance of gay marriage. Authors who once had to contend with near unanimous animosity for producing and marketing their own wares are now being rewarded with both praise and profits.
And it’s not just on Amazon. More and more, eBooks are being stocked and offered by libraries, further validating their co-existence with traditional publishing.
Of course, as with any trend, there are exceptions.
Retailers Slow to Adopt Self-Published Works
It is still very hard to get “officially” reviewed by any high profile publications, online or otherwise. Likewise, most bookstores, independent and chains alike, simply won’t stock self-published (or even small press) books, chiefly because it isn’t cost effective, given the lack of publicity for the titles, as well as practical bottom line considerations.
Retailers balk at cooperating with any product of Amazon’s CreateSpace (the most popular resource for both self-published authors and small press distributors), given direct conflicts of interest, as online sales have long since overtaken brick-and-mortar operations. Plus CreateSpace doesn’t provide much financial incentive for retailers in terms of their share of the profits. (However, many bookstores will order products via Lighting Source, a specialized branch of the largest book distribution service, Ingram’s).
As for the crucial reader’s point of view, that’s likewise a mixed bag. While the bulk of them (particularly less picky genre fans) won’t even check who published a particular title if it sounds promising and boasts good customer reviews and positive word of mouth, you may still encounter those whose expressions literally drop when they ask who published your book, and your answer is, “Me.” But again, the rapidly changing tide is on your side.
Even Publisher’s Weekly has been known to give shout-outs to self-published works of note. That’s a pretty significant development in favor of the self-publishing industry.
Just follow some basic guidelines, and there’s no reason why your work can’t sit proudly alongside the output of “real” publishers. You’ll just have to work harder to earn general respect, but now more than ever, that respect is within reach.
Do you consider quality self-published books as worthy of respect as those from an established house?
PHOTO: STATE LIBRARY OF OHIO
New Orleans, LA