The entire publishing world changed dramatically – although people wouldn’t realize that until a couple of years later – when Amazon introduce the Kindle and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in 2007.
Now, ten years later, there are several platforms that allow individual authors to upload their books as ebooks and sell them. This development has effectively removed the need to find an agent or a publisher.
Indie authors – and indie publishers can do it all on their own.
Of course, this didn’t sit well with the traditional publishers, and of course, there was a learning curve involved (still is) for everyone who wants to self-publish.
Terms like “Tsunami of Swill” and “Overproduction” are still common, and naturally, there is some interest in keeping a stigma on self-publishing. Even though it has become easy to turn out a quality book on your own.
Now, in this article, I don’t want to go into all the technical details of self-publishing. There are excellent blogs out there that do it much better.
This post is about the mindset around self-publishing.
People tend to believe (and of course, this belief gets reinforced by the traditional publishing industry) that self-publishers simply cannot be as good as traditionally published authors, because their books don’t go through any gate-keeping or vetting. That they lack validation by “experts”.
To be blunt, yes, there are terrible “books” out there. Yes, there are even scammers who create dummy books for their purposes. But even traditional publishers create terrible books.
On the other hand, maybe one necessary shift of the mind is that we shouldn’t write for the “experts”. We shouldn’t write for the critics and try to impress them. Their validation is mostly meaningless.
Validation comes from our Readers.
How does that feel?
Readers give the true validation for any book through their feedback. Not necessarily through their number, mind you. (That’s where marketing comes in.) But if they don’t complain in their reviews and really like your book instead, that’s true validation. And it’s more honest than the opinion of “critics”, who have been trained by their profession to like only certain kinds of writing.
We can enjoy complete freedom.
Here’s another thing: Publishers tend to follow fads and thus want books that are similar to the latest bestseller. But since it tends to take a year from getting the author to sign a contract to getting the book to the stores, the fad is often over by the time the book is finally in the market. Chasing fads doesn’t really tend to work, unless you’re fast enough to follow through quickly.
Self-publishers can get to the market much faster (depending on how much they do themselves), and they are not constrained by market trends. We can simply write what we enjoy ourselves, and be fairly certain that like-minded readers can now find our work.
We can also write and publish as many books a year as we want. And we can streamline our production. I know indie authors who put out several books a year – because they devote all their time to writing them, they have editors and cover artists lined up, and they keep their own deadlines. If that isn’t professional, I don’t know.
Personally, I believe that going indie is a very good choice to make.
It may seem harder than signing a contract with a publisher who then takes care of the book in exchange for taking all your rights, but it is much more rewarding.
Because as a self-publisher, you can change what doesn’t work. You can edit it, get new covers, write a prequel, a sequel or a side-kick, you can do whatever is fun and makes your readers happy. Once a trad publisher has your book, it’s completely out of your control, even if they mess it up.
I have lost a full novel to an incompetent publisher, I know how that feels. It took three years and very hard work to write, and it languishes in ebook hell, because he can’t market and won’t listen to advice.
Think about all of that.
Freedom. Creativity. Speed.
These are good things to have. And it’s very simple: All you have to do is to decide to do it yourself, learn how to do it and maybe get some help for what you cannot do yourself. And I can tell you: It is very doable.
Here’s some tapping to help you shift your mindset and take away doubts and fears if you decide to go for self-publishing.
Even though it feels so strange and scary to do it all myself, I would rather just give the book to someone who can make it great, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now choose to realize that being in control myself is most important for the success of my book.
Even though I still want that validation and that pat on the back from a big publishers – that fame! – I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now choose to realize that even big publishers are simply businesses that don’t particularly care about an individual writer.
Even though I grew up wanting a book contract, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now give myself permission to shift my vision of success to making readers happy, instead of editors.
How do you feel about self-publishing?
What emotions come up when you think about it?
What happened while you were tapping?
And finally – what are you creating right now?
Please share in a comment.
Image Source: F. Moebius
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