If you spend any time cruising message boards and e-groups of writers you will soon notice that there is a small but loud group of people who take every opportunity to bash the self-publishing process. Often-times the credentials of these “book-snobs” are dubious at best. In most cases the ones who bash self-publishing the most have published the least…or nothing at all. The ones who actually may have published a book the traditional way are quite happy to let those reading their posts remain ignorant about the true level of their accomplishments. Take for instance the author who has published 41 books throughout his career. Come to find out his books were not books at all, they were scripts for one act plays ranging from 14 to 26 pages. If that wasn’t bad enough, the poor fellow collaborated with his wife on over 30 of them. To combat the wisdom of such experts, following are the 7 biggest myths (and the truths) that are most commonly spouted out by those who I like to call the “book snobs”.
No self published books have become a commercial success.
This myth always rears its ugly head and always comes from a person with little to no “street cred” Often the phrase they use is “Someone just show me one self published book that became a best seller (insert magnanimous smirk here)”.
Even though this is the most often spouted out myth it is the most ludicrous of the seven. The fact is that many, actually too many to be listed here, books have had their start as self published books. My favorite recent example is Financial Peace by David Ramsey. The daytime financial talk host began selling Financial Peace from the back of his car. As his financial radio program grew in popularity he was able to sell the continuing rights to Financial Peace, thus cementing his own financial future. One good site to reference is the Self Publishing Hall of Fame at www.bookmarket.com/selfpublish.html. This site details a near complete history of the success stories in self-publishing.
Self-published books cannot get reviewed.
Although there are still some hoity toity publications that still bar self-published books, this is becoming rarer each year. The very well respected Publisher’s Weekly now commonly reviews self-published works. In addition to the large publications many small town newspapers have a weekly book review. In most cases a local author will be practically guaranteed a review for the small price of a sample copy. Regional magazines also provide another outlet to self-published authors, as this was the case for my first book
Self Published books are never found in book stores.
Wrong again! While it may be a little harder for a self-published book to gain precious retail space, it is not nearly an impossible task. The major book chains actually seek out local authors and save space in each store for this purpose. They do this in order to combat the argument that the big box store format doesn’t cater to the local literary scene. In my experience I have actually found it a lot more difficult, yet not impossible, to get into the small independent stores. They must be run by the same book snobs on the message boards.
All self published books are poorly written/edited/formatted etc.
Although a lot of self-published books could use more polishing, I would venture to say that the same holds true for traditionally published books. Stories of plagiarism, lies, and errors, come out weekly about some book that a major press has put out. Can anyone say A Million Little Pieces?
Self-Publishing hurts your chances to become a “real writer”.
Self-publishing didn’t hurt David Ramsey, Zane Grey, Stephen King, Debbie Allen, and Dorothy Bryant. The exposure that self-publishing provides also helps those in niche markets to make financial gains, as well as achieve career goals.
You will never make any money self publishing.
This myth is the closest one to being true. Notice I said closest. The fact that is most authors make very little, even the traditionally published ones. Most books do not even sell enough copies to cover the advance which a lot of authors receive. The flat truth is writing is a hard business to make a living doing. Most authors do not live solely on their royalty checks. Almost all writers have day-jobs, or are retired pensioners. They will not eat or starve based solely on their royalties. As far as efficiency goes, depending on the self-publishing channel you use, the payouts per book, to a self-published author, normally dwarfs those which a traditionally published author gets. For a niche market book, self-publishing is the only good way for an author to make anything in excess of beer money.
Self-Publishing will brand you with a scarlet letter which everybody will see, and you will never be able to shake. The truth is about 95% of the people you talk to, and sell to, will never even know you are self-published. That is unless you tell them. The average consumer simply doesn’t care who publishes the book they are reading. As an experiment go ask the next John Grisham fan, or Stephen King fan you see who published their favorite author’s last book. They will probably guess Random House! Bookstores do not care who a publisher is, as long as they think they can make a buck. The last person who noticed a book of mine was self published worked at a large, regional chain book store, the next thing she said to me was “We’ll take 40, where do we send the check?”