No matter what you argue, self-publishing will just never be the same as traditional publishing.
In many instances, it’s far, far better.
For one thing, with self-publishing, it’s a lot more likely to actually happen. If you’re determined, it will definitely happen. If takes an awful lot of hard work, but that work is certain to result in the publication of your very own book. There’s absolutely no guarantee that the book will sell, but success is not guaranteed with traditional publication, either. I don’t care if your book is published by one of the Big Six with all the publicity they have to offer – nobody knows what’s going to sell. In fact, if your traditionally published book doesn’t sell well, you’re going to have a lot of trouble getting a second book published. With self-publishing, it could be your third book that really takes off. With the traditional model, nobody’s gonna give you three chances to be a success.
Traditional publishing is a lot like winning the lottery. It’s fun to fantasize about, but it probably won’t happen. Even if you are wonderfully talented it Probably. Won’t. Happen. That’s a very hard realization to come to when you are a serious writer. You can spend a lifetime working for a dream that has very little chance of coming true. Literary agents can reject up to 99% of the works submitted to them. They have to. It’s a numbers game that is very difficult to win. Unfortunately, hard work and determination won’t get you as far as pure luck when it comes to getting published. You have to catch the right agent at the right time to get them to give you a chance. Many agents will only talk to you if you are referred by somebody else. That’s luck, not talent. If your neighbor is Stephen King, you’ve got a much better shot at being traditionally published than I do even if I work ten times harder.
Another great thing about being a self-published author is the feeling of empowerment. You don’t ever feel like you’re degrading yourself or begging for an agent or publisher to throw you a crumb of bread. Most professionals in the traditional publishing world really don’t treat writers that way, but it still feels degrading. You send out hundreds of query letters that are mostly met with resounding silence. The recipients aren’t being rude – they simply don’t have the time or the resources to answer all those letters. I don’t blame them at all, but it’s still quite demoralizing.. I’ve always felt degraded whenever I’ve gone to literary conferences. Good luck getting near anybody who could help advance your career. You just get caught in the stampede of other hungry writers and you almost always go home empty-handed and with a lighter wallet. Very, very discouraging.
In the traditional art-by-committee model, the creative person – the one who comes up with the actual product you are going to sell and profit from – is often treated as the lowest man on the totem pole. This is especially true in the case of screenwriters. They’re pretty much treated like dirt and their work will get re-written by a team of executives so the final product is so homogenized that most screenplays start to all sound the same. I don’t think traditional publishers are quite as bad, but the fact is that they’re only going to select tried-and-true book ideas that have already made money and that they think are going to hit again. Good luck trying to shop anything even remotely original to a traditional publisher.
Enter self-publishers. We can write whatever the hell we want. If we want to write a romance about two robots from the planet Mercury, we can do it. If it doesn’t make money, oh well. There’s more ideas where that came from. We can write the most outrageous, most creative things we can think of and send them out into the world with very little risk. We can take control of our own destiny without waiting for external validation that may never come.
So what are you waiting for? You’re in charge now, so get to it!
– Linda Fausnet
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