With all the self-publishing going on out there, one might imagine the following:
1. Anyone can do it.
2. It is easy to promote through Amazon, B&N and the like.
3. Self-Publishing authors are not concerned about quality.
4. Self-Publishers are selfish and don't want to go through the vetting process of Traditional Publishing.
I can speak to self-publishing and these myths since I recently published my own book "Discoveries in the Closet" and in a few months will have another book out on this very topic of self publishing for less and avoiding the scams.
I'm not going to argue that there isn't crap out there in the self-publishing world. The world of Self-Publishing is like someone who has opened an aircraft hanger with planes fueled and are ready to go, letting anyone fly them whether they really know how to fly or not. The ego centric and over excited make crash landings. However, traditional publishing is like a closed hanger owned run by the wealthiest of companies. These elitists keep 1000's of potential candidates out of ever flying a plane, no matter how trained or well they can fly. This is like the traditional publishing market. Unless you are known by the owners and able to bypass all the booby traps set to kill your dreams, you will be among many who never even make it past the front door. Why should so few get their book successfully published by the decisions made from only a handful of publishers?
What this tells us is really Self Publishing are the lesser of the two evils. Why? I guess I should qualify that statement. First, I weigh on the side that life is too short to have someone's writing dreams squashed by elitism and the lack of being able to rise above everyone else's snappy pitches. The fact also is those that really want to be a success with their book have to work really hard. Can anyone do it? Well, can anyone fly a plane? Not really: not successfully. Definitely, not if they don't know their "stuff". Authors approach self publishing in pretty much a naive state of mind. They want to learn for the sake of saving their "baby" after the threat of miscarriage in the Traditional market. They want their project to make an impact and mostly authors just want to write. Period. We don't want to learn about how to size the spine of our book cover image with the right trim size. We don't want to learn about promoting and marketing ourselves. For example, as an author, personally, I hate Twitter. Though I use it, I don't have it on my phone. I think in the author world it has become an ever scrolling billboard of self promotion where everyone promotes their books and pays no attention to the ones they are "following". Twitter itself has companies now that will dump on you, for a small fee, followers so you can have that 17.2k (thousands) of followers and look popular when you really aren't. For a small fee, you can look like you are a Kardashian in the world of writing but without the actual fame. Nevertheless, I do Twitter because that is what I hear works so I'm giving it go. I can honestly say that none of my followers are from some paid sight. If I have to be on this scrolling campaign of self promotion, then my followers will always be "organic" finds.
Frankly, I love to write but to post what I'm writing to garner readers makes me feel like an Encyclopedia salesman or Amway member. Worse, I'm knocking on the same doors I just knocked on a few days ago to see if they want to read something new. This is not something most authors want to do. They want to write and have someone help them get their book out there...to do the things for them they aren't gifted at doing. But, all that has changed in both Traditional and Self Publishing markets. In the Traditional market, you now have to market yourself more than ever before. However, in self publishing it is even worse. In order to be successful, one not only has to write and edit till your eyes want to fall out and fingers fall off, but you have to garner free help to edit (unless you want to pay a hefty price for that). Then you have to learn all the ins and outs of creating a book cover and interior that meet publisher specifications. You have to learn all about software programs you never used before just to get your book in the right format to make it ready for a PDF or what not. You have to create profiles on applications you never used before, generate posts that will generate interest to the...yes...the website you had to learn to create from scratch.
Yes, you could pay a fee or no fee (in the case of Amazon's Prime) and upload your book directly to sites like Amazon as an e-book. Why not just "do that"? Well people do it all the time and yet they don't make much sales beyond friends and family. This is because there are thousands upon thousands books and items on sites like Amazon. The odds that anyone is going to read your book are relatively small unless you market it very well. You cannot;
1. Market a crappy written or crappy formatted book
2. Make any kind of impact with a book no one knows about except your friends and family.
On top of all of this, self publishing companies that will get your book on the platforms you need, know you little naive authors are out there--the first timers or second timers. The ones who can't even get a place in the traditional market to be heard. They know you are a blank slate coming to them about an industry you know little about. Sadly, like any other market, scams and unexpected fees abound and the little money you walk into your book project with can be sapped up in bubbling crude before your book ever reaches the market. Don't think they won't up-sell you? Think again. Even review websites that will offer packages to help you "format" or "design" can be over priced and unnecessary. Worse yet, when you research companies to self publish with, you have to be careful for reviews that are paid for or by people who work for those companies.
Authors who self publish are not trying to get around a fair system but rather a traditional market that is slanted against them. Just because it could be technically easy to get a book up on Amazon doesn't mean authors who go this route are selfish or trying to scam the system to send something out there that is totally sloppy. There is no doubt in my mind after what I've been through that folks just give up and go with what they go and others are probably just frankly, sloppy. In truth, if they truly want to be successful, authors would have to do much more than upload a book to these websites. Much, much more. It is not easy and not for the faint of heart. Therefore, though there is a lot of junk books out there, don't be so quick to knock those who are giving this a go and may not meet the standards you are used to. It truly is not easy route to take--it just sounds like it is.
For more help on your next venture into self publishing, stay tuned for my latest book on this topic coming out in early fall 2015.