Friday, January 04, 2008

It's January Again

{sigh} It's that time of year again. Every January, a new crop of writers decides, "THIS is the year I'm going to see my book in print; even if I have to self-publish it."

In the last two days, I have seen at least six writers offer variations on the above statement.

I've been pretty proud of myself. I haven't made a single negative comment. I've resisted the urge to say, "Don't do it. Don't throw your money away."

After all, it is their money.

The thing that bugs me is that there's always a pattern to these things. A new person shows up on a list, posts for a couple of days and then--out of the blue--suddenly starts extolling the virtues of self-publishing.

If you're not familiar with the terms "sock puppet" or "astroturfing," go here and here.

As far as self-publishing goes, I read a post on a year ago that resonated with me. Here's an excerpt:

When you self-publish . . . you are essentially going around (the) system. You’re taking your ball, going home, and making up your own game in the backyard. Your game might be fun, it might be valid exercise, it might be the perfect thing for your situation, but it’s not the same way all the other kids play. And to pretend otherwise is to invite scorn and derision.

Many newbie writers believe that having a physical copy of their book is the end goal. Their impatience blinds them to the impediments they'll face:

  • The need for a distributor
  • The need to market (you have to have a way to drive traffic to your site or to your book on Amazon)
  • The refusal of many bookstore chains to accept self-published books for sale even when you have a distributor and accept returns
  • The high costs charged for returns that eat into any profit
  • The negative opinion throughout the industry for self-published books

The would-be writer shells out $2,500 and ends up with a box of unsold books in his car trunk or on a shelf in his garage.

Worse yet, he gives up on his dream of writing. And who knows, if he'd been less impatient, more willing to accept feedback and better able to tolerate rejection, he might have become a published writer by following the traditional path.

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