Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Self-Publishing on My Mind

You all remember Narcissus, don't you?
Oh, NPR, how I love you.

A while back there were some articles on the publishing industry. This one ran on Monday, this one on Tuesday.

For years I've been extolling the virtues of self-publishing. I've self-published. I've even blogged on the subject for the Confabulator Cafe. My grandfather self-published a book of stories that he'd been telling the family for years and years. Well, vanity-published.

That's different, isn't it?

Back in '41 when my grandfather was a wee lad... Hold on. That's not how this should start.

Vanity publishing goes back to about 1941 (or earlier) according to this here article on Wikipedia. Pretty much what it comes down to is that anyone who charges an author a fee to 'publish' a book is a vanity press. But doesn't Amazon charge a fee to host or 'publish' your book? Sure they do. But they take it out of the sale of each individual book rather than charging the author up front.

When you see it like that, it kind of sounds like vanity publishing, doesn't it?

Well. Regardless.

No, hang on. That does sound like vanity publishing repackaged. The explosion in self-publishing fired by Amazon's hosting service for ebooks that they touted and that the big New York publishers refuse to deal on in terms of pricing is a prettified vanity press. (Maybe. I'm hyperbolizing here for effect. It's my soapbox here and you can do what you want on your own blog. Deal with it.)

Go on. Read that article on self-publishing that I linked to. Here, in case you don't want to scroll up. Want proof? How much risk does Amazon assume in 'accepting' your book for 'publication'? Hm? I guess they're selective to a degree, but in general just about anyone can publish anything on Amazon, right? Do you disagree? (Let's not get into a bunch of semantics here, either.)

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Even publishing with Amazon, you pay a fee, they aren't all that picky about what you write, and they incur minimal (if any) real financial risk.

I'm not saying you shouldn't self-publish. You should if you want to. But make it truly self-published. Do the work yourself. Don't depend on Amazon's name to 'sell' your book for you. Sell a high-quality, DRM-free PDF of your book. Your Kindle app will import it just fine. Spend some money on a cover. Spend money on an editor. Give artist and editor credit in the book and in the way you describe it. Then find a distributor.

That's not Amazon. Or any other platform that takes a fee out of every sale you make. If they're printing it, fine, paper and labor need to be paid for. But for ebooks? Come on. You can do it better yourself.

That said, here's my Amazon author profile. (He said with chagrin.)

Look, just think about it. You can sell just as many copies through your own website as through Amazon.

If you want to.

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