Self(less) Publishing

Today is a better day than yesterday. Yesterday, I read a post from a writer who claimed, “I can’t believe it. TWO DAYS and I can finally say I’m a real published author!” She said this because, after self-publishing her début novel, she had connected with a self-described “team publishing platform and a social marketing engine for books.” She’s ecstatically happy about it, and good for her. Each author should publish her books the way she wants.

The problem I had with that statement, though, and previous statements made by the writer, is the implication that a self-published author is less than one who is traditionally published. I commented on that post, and the writer attempted to backpedal, posting “I think you’re a real writer if you write and you’re a real author if you finish a book, but a published author is someone who’s been published by someone else. So, I was a real author before, but not a published author because I didn’t have a publisher. It doesn’t mean my work is any better or worse.”


Ha! Okay, whatever. Hugh Howey, Jasinda Wilder, and Catherine Ryan Hyde might disagree. I disagree. I am both an author and a publisher, and very real at that. I publish my own books, so how can I not be a published author? I’ve established tremendous relationships and friendships with self-published authors online – I wouldn’t think of even one of them as anything other than a (real) published author.

So this morning I headed over to my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. It’s minutes away from home and a nice place to visit before the frenzy of Christmas shopping turns it into a circus. I bought a small non-fat salted caramel mocha (no whip) and a copy of the current issue of Poets & Writers magazine. What a great issue! There’s a big section about self-publishing in the current issue – well worth a read. Here’s some of what I took away:

“Both traditionally published and self-published books can be amazing, good, or just plain bad. So it’s an author’s job to do his best to be in the amazing category and blow readers away.” (Jennifer Ciotta, author of I, Putin)

“The bitter reality is that this is a ludicrous way to make money. No creative endeavor – actor, rock star, dancing, etc. – is a plausible way to make money…So if you’re doing it for the money, you’re on a pathway to bitterness. Do it because you love it, you love the process, you love the engagement, you love getting better at what you do.” (Richard Nash, founder of Cursor and publisher of Red Lemonade)

And relating to the term “self-publishing,” as if it existed in contradistinction to “selfless-publishing,” Nash says, “I do hope we abandon the term quickly, so we can proceed to helping individual writers realize their goals, matching their skills with peers and intermediaries without regard for how closely they mimic what was once called traditional publishing. We’re all publishers now. That’s both a desire and a prediction.” [my bold]


12 thoughts on “Self(less) Publishing

  1. Can I get an “Amen”? I’m as “real” a published author as someone peddling their wares with the help of a team from the Big Six… or smaller. At least, I was the last time I checked. But this may all be a dream…


  2. Great post, Martha! I agree that every author should find their own path to success – there is no right or wrong way to get your work out to the public. I really wish that the term “self-published” would no longer be used. “Indie author” sounds SO much better (hipper and more professional.)

    And I think the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” should be changed to “Don’t judge a book by its publisher.” Just because a book is published by a big/small house doesn’t mean it’s going to be good and just because a book is published by its author doesn’t mean it’s going to stink. There’s a wide quality range coming from all publishing sources.


  3. Nash’s statement that writing fiction is a ludicrous way of making money would not be so true if we could win over more people to reading. Surely there exists an audience for an experience deeper than video games and UFC.


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