In the article “Self-Published Authors Are Poor and Can’t Sell Their Books,” Michael Kozlowski quotes Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, as saying:
“The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible — unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world….These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment.”
As a writer, a self-published author, and someone who helps others self-publish their books, I found Kozlowski article to be particularly mean-spirited. It debates the economic validity of being an author with lots of gloom-and-doom about patched-together careers and poverty, concluding with the loud-gavel judgement of Mr. Franklin that self-publishing is a “deeply corrupt world.” The end.
But it’s not the end. In between the dollar signs, the doomsday predictions about books and readers, and the pompous presumption that if we’re not represented by a real publisher, our work is shit — in between all of that naysaying is the fact that self-publishing is an effective medium through which a writer gets to be heard.
Just ask Lisa Genova! Genova tops Electric Lit’s list of “11 Books That Prove There’s Nothing Wrong with Self-Publishing.”
“New York Times best-selling novelist and a neuroscientist on top of that, Lisa Genova jump-started her writing career with Still Alice back in 2007. Self-published with iUniverse’s print-on-demand service, Genova sold copies out of the trunk of her car for about two years, along with discussion guides in support of people with Alzheimer’s and their caretakers….After getting picked up by Simon & Schuster, Still Alice has over 2.6 million copies in print in over 30 languages. Genova’s subsequent works have been no less praiseworthy, earning her several international prizes and an honorary degree.”
We all have to start somewhere, right?
But let’s be honest. There are a lot of things that go into making a bestselling book like Still Alice. Good writing and an awesome concept, sure. But also: honest self-evaluation, brave editing, a good support team (i.e. sounding board, editor, proofreader, designer, printer, therapist), patience made of titanium, and the willingness to spend two years selling your books from your car.
OK, maybe not from your car, but you know as well as I do, nothing good comes without hard work and effort.
What I tell my clients is this: self-publishing is a choice. You can choose to seek out a traditional publishing company and do your hard work that way — polished manuscript, query letters, agents, editors, and publishers. Or, you can roll up your sleeves, decide to self-publish, and take the reins. That means taking the reins for your book’s creation and its sales if you want to avoid Mr. Franklin’s prediction of “deathly silence.”
My experience of self-publishing has had moments of disappointment — sure, what doesn’t? But there have been so many more moments of gratitude, fulfillment, pride, and excitement.
Self-publishing was my choice. Yours might be different. Remember, it’s your work, your voice. And ultimately, your book.
Have questions? Let’s find time to talk about You & Your Book!