It’s time to stop whining about the stigma and DO SOMETHING about it. I could write a list of all the mistakes I’ve seen in self-publishing (from an unknown author putting his/her face on the front cover to refusing to listen to Stephen King’s advice about the craft in his book On Writing). However, that would take twelve days. The number one, biggest mistake in self-publishing today doesn’t have to do with the cover design or the marketing. The biggest mistake in self-publishing today is: Publishing before the book is ready!
I know–this sounds oh-so simple. But the truth is that most brand-new authors truly don’t know what it takes to make a self-published book successful. Heck, many “veteran” self-published authors don’t know what it takes, either–they’re often the ones who created the often well-deserved self-publishing stigma.
Writing 60,000 words is easy. Did you just hear that symphony of gasps and indignant rebuttals from authors around the globe? Yes, I said it–writing 60,000 words IS EASY. It takes time, but that doesn’t make the act itself difficult. What is difficult is doing it well. Yes, some people are just truly more talented at writing than others. Does this mean that writing is not a learned skill that is improved by greater understanding and practice? No. It’s like any other art form: talent can only take you so far, and then training comes in to refine the talent.
If authors don’t take the time to read books on the craft, take writing classes, learn the rules, get critiques, read other books in the genre, take the time to research the genre’s audience, write multiple drafts and rewrite scenes and sequences multiple times, etc. (I could go on, and on, and on…), the book will NOT be ready to publish. It won’t even be ready for the editor. Unfortunately, this has not stopped many books from being self-published before they’re ready for the marketplace, thus exacerbating and supporting the stigma self-publishing is fighting.
Self-publishing poorly is just too easy nowadays. There are too many publish-instantly-for-free buttons out there that keep duping would-be successful self-published authors into just “getting it out there,” preventing them from ever having success and inflaming the already red and itchy rash that is the self-publishing stigma. The answer is to STOP FALLING FOR IT.
Self-publishing is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It should not be easier simply because you don’t have to go through agents or traditional publishers. It has the potential to be very rewarding–I would argue that it has the potential to be even more rewarding than traditional publishing. That is if it’s done right and well.
It’s time for self-publishing authors to quit jumping the gun. It’s time to put in the time, energy, and money (remember–time IS money, and it takes LOTS AND LOTS of TIME to make it right) to publish the right way. It’s time to take some responsibility–let’s stop the practices that make self-publishing deserving of the stigma. The success of the indie-author revolution depends on it!