Self-Publishing: The Punk Rock of the Publishing Industry

Image credit cellar_door_films via WANACommons

The beast known as self-publishing is both simple and complicated. It’s simple because, well, writing is simple… and complicated. Damn, this could get confusing. All right, so it’s like this:

When punk rock first began, it seemed to be (at least from my knowledge of it) about jumping around on stage, yelling and screaming, wailing on your guitar and drums to make a lot of noise and make everyone jump around. It seemed to be about not conforming, doing what you want, and how you want to do it. Sure, the bands may try to do cheap recordings in their garages and sell them, and they won’t be perfect; but it’s all part of growing, and it’s all part of building an audience.

This isn’t too different from a beginning self-publishing author. The author pounds on his or her keyboard, jumps around and screams on the internet, and doesn’t conform to what the big publishers want. They’re in control, they know how they want to publish and how they want their books to be, and they want to do it their way. It might be rough, but it’s something. It’s progress. It’s learning.

But then, as punk rock got more popular, it began to grow and refine. More people got into it, so more people bought it and supported it. Thus, the band makes more and can afford to put out better quality recordings. Plus, they’re better as musicians, so they just sound better. Now they’re getting big. Now they’re achieving their dreams.

Now back to the self-published author: He or she has a few books out and is starting to build their own audience. They offer some free fiction on their blog, and people are taking notice. More people are buying their books, and the author can afford more services. They can afford professional editing and better cover designs. They are growing in their skill as a businessman or businesswoman, and they are getting better at their craft. They’re writing better, they’re publishing better, and they are better. They’re writing full time now. They’re achieving their dreams.

Self-publishing is not the easy way out. It’s a learning process and it’s growing. It’s about hard work, dedication, and getting yourself out there for everyone to see. Oh, it’s also more hard work. And then even more hard work. Few people can say it as well as Chuck Wendig:

“Write as much as you can.
As fast as you can.
Finish your shit.
Hit your deadlines.
Try very hard not to suck.”

And that’s all there is to it.


One thought on “Self-Publishing: The Punk Rock of the Publishing Industry

  1. When I first started writing I made the easy assumption that self-publishing was the easiest and quickest way to success, but when I started looking into it, I realised the thought of doing my own marketing filled me with terror, as did the idea of me having the final say over whether my story is good enough to go out into the world.

    That being said, I wouldn’t say self-publishing is a bad thing, just that the perception that it’s the easy way out is an urban myth. Ultimately though, I think the lack of quality and editing I have seen in a lot of self-published novels is what puts me off. I’ve even seen spelling mistakes and typos, which is just inexcusable.

    My opinion on self-publishing lies somewhere between the idea that it holds all the answers and that it marks the death of publishing.

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