Thoughts on Self Publishing

In Personal Stories, Thoughts on Publishing on March 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Many, many years ago I had a somewhat popular blog in which I rambled on and on about the assorted adventures I’d had as a younger man. It was the kind of stuff you talk about with friends while drinking a few too many beers and listening to music from a not so distant decade of excess and indulgence, the only difference being that retelling these tales on the blog was not done to boast or inflate the ego, but 100% to entertain.

After roughly a year of spewing my stories and entertaining a few people at my expense (and following in the footsteps of another young blogger who shall remain nameless at this time), I had the idea to compile the best of the bunch into a book. I knew that no agent or publisher in their right mind would touch this drivel, so I thought it best that I take it the route of self publishing.

At the time the thought of self publishing conjured up images of an old creepy man selling tattered books from the trunk of his tattered car. I saw two crumbling cardboard boxes barely holding back the stacks of unsold books. A handwritten sign proclaimed to all that you could purchase his book today for the low price of $14.99 $10 $5. The wind kicked up, creating small cyclones of trash and other street debris that would eventually pick up his old hat and toss it clumsily down the street…

Basically, as a good friend once put it, I thought of self publishing as a place where good books went to die.

And I did self publish that book, and I did learn a lot about the business. I did everything from beginning to end and eventually put my book on the market, where it promptly died. Truth be told, there is a good chance that attempting to sell a book to the same people who have already read the blog for free wasn’t my best business decision. It was a great learning process.

Many years have gone by and the self publishing landscape sure has changed. The options and possibilities are almost endless, but there still seems to be some fear (or so I thought) about going down the road of self publishing.
I conducted several informal questionnaires and talked with several of my author friends and I was shocked at what I learned. I honestly thought that the main reason why people go the standard route of publishing would be simply because it is the more socially accepted method, the process that has more credibility. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not one of them cited credibility as a reason.

I should have guessed that the number one reason why “struggling artists” choose not to self publish would be MONEY. More people than not mentioned that having the expenses paid for by someone else was most important.
I do believe that the face of self publishing is slowly changing. Every day more and more quality work is published by everyday people who choose to go the non-standard route. Being able to get your work into a large distribution channel and seeing your book available for sale by major book stores is a far cry from the days of peddling your books from the back of creepy looking cars. You still have to wear many hats when self publishing and work your tail off to get your product noticed, but that’s the life of an up and coming author!

Self publishing can work for you, but you have to work for it.

Ryan O’Neil

  1. Very insightful 🙂

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