Authors can get understandably frustrated when trying to navigate the crowded waters to a mainstream publishing contract, and often their perception is that the road to a published book is marked by a stoney-faced gatekeeper lurking at every twist and turn, ready with a bellowing bark; 'Thou shall not past less thee be worthy'. No-one can pretend that this road is not arduous, requiring careful and dedicated hard work to fine-tune a manuscript to catch the eye of an agent or editor.
I have no doubt there are many authors, who for the right reasons, make the decision to follow an alternative route to publishing their books. I am an advocate of publishing, whether a book is published by an author, a small independent press, a non-profit organisation or a mainstream publisher - whatever the source or means used - provided a sound education of the book publishing industry is demonstrated and a fair and reasoned expectation on the perceived measured of success is employed. The fruits of which tend to stand more chance of success from a savvy and informed mind, rather than from a mind filled with feelings of stubbornness, desperation or the pre-occupation with viewing every thought and dream through rose-tinted glasses.
I have always advised that the decision to pursue an alternative route to publishing should be based on several years of honing your writing craft in a writers' workshop or group and embarking on a journey down The Publishing Road Less Traveled. Just like Scott Peck's book, The Road Less Traveled, the journey may be difficult, frustrating and ultimately painful, but there is a strong likelihood a writer will learn a great deal about the value and merit of the words they write, as well as a great deal about themselves as writers.
Today, Jane Smith of How Publishing Really Works reflected on the opportunities and empowerment self-publishing can provide if executed correctly and for the right reasons. Vanity publishing is certainly the trapdoor many authors fall down because they choose to make their decisions to self-publish based on frustration, impatience and lack of research. Smith might very well have called her post today; How Self-Publishing Really Works.
"This is where self-publication comes into its own. It is available to everyone and needn’t cost a penny if you choose a POD provider like Lulu, CreateSpace or Lightning Source (and yes, I’m well aware that there are other options out there and I hope you’ll suggest a few which aren't vanity publishers in disguise)."
Real self-publishing does not involve vanity or vanity publishers. Crucially, it means the author retains all rights, owns the ISBN (book published in their name or imprint), and if they do not have all the hands-on skills required in pre and post-production; they contract out these services to proven professionals - not fly-by-night 'Publishers' who confound, mislead and exploit every possible cent from an author without doing little else.
Self-publishing is certainly The Publishing Road Less Traveled, but being prepared properly before you set out on the journey can allow you to avoid many a pothole, and most importantly discover that self-publishing undertaken the right way and for the right reasons can bring its rewards. It will be your approach, decisions and actions as author and publisher that will colour much of your experience.