I’ve run across a blur of information about self-publishing in the past 24 hours or so, all of it deserving attention.
- From the New York Times, a nice piece on Pondering the Format of E-books before you self-publish.
The proliferation of formats has come about, in part, because most companies entering the e-book market have created a proprietary version.
This rugged individualism started falling out of favor several years ago, and today many companies have adopted the ePub format developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum, an industry consortium. Sony announced in August that it was switching to ePub as well.
Repeat after me: proprietary is bad. Independent authors do not want a third party to own the means of distribution in any way. If Sony or Amazon wants to sell hardware (e-readers), more power to them. But I’m not interesting in anyone who’s selling hardware that requires me to use (pay for) their software. I understand why people can own fonts, but I’m not down with someone owning the alphabet.
- Five Good Reasons to Self-Publish Your Book. The subtitle here is: Because No Publisher Will Take You No Matter How Good Your Writing Is.
- Finally, e-Fiction Book Club chimes in with Why You Should Self-Publish…, including more links on the subject.
When you self-publish, as I have said before, your book comes with no guarantee of quality or even readability. Readers have to take a punt on your work, and unless you have a great word-of-mouth campaign going on, you’ve got very little chance of being noticed and selling significant copies. Not that I’m disparaging all self-published authors; I’m just pointing out the facts. You are shoulder to shoulder with some of the worst examples of writing ever produced, and you will be lumped accordingly.
Sad but true.
An interesting side-effect of reading all these posts is that I’m getting a renewed appreciation for the skills of the craftspeople who work inside the staggering publishing industry. Clearly there is a lot of really useful institutional knowledge and business experience there that is applicable to all of the decisions individual authors are now making for themselves, and I have respect for that experience.
— Mark Barrett