Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Indie Life: How is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Doing These Days?

Indie Life is a monthly feature hosted by the Indelible Writers.

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I'm posing a question today: Is self-publishing still frowned upon the way it used to be?

I don't exactly know. My views have certainly changed. There was once a time when I thought the self-publishing route was the absolute last option. A total fail! But several years down the road I've done a complete 180. I'm excited to be an indie/self-published author! I like having control over every aspect of my books. I love the freedom I have to choose what I want to write and set whatever deadlines I want to set. And I admire others who've chosen this route as well.

I suppose because my own opinions have changed, I had this idea that the rest of the world was changing its opinion of self-published writers and books. And I think it has to a certain extent (look at the self-published authors who have ended up on various bestseller lists -- and I don't mean the Amazon category lists. I mean the Big Deal bestseller lists!), but I think there are still a huge amount of people in the writing/publishing industry who think of self-publishing as the highly embarrassing, distantly-related member that threatens to give their family a bad name.

From what I can tell, here in South Africa self-publishing is still Not Cool. When people ask me who I'm published with and I say "myself", I still sometimes get That Look! And here I am thinking, you should be more impressed, not less, because I've done the entire process myself!

So ... what do you think? What do your family and friends think? What do people you've just met think? Do you get That Look when you mention the word "indie" or "self-published", or does it really not bother people what publishing route you chose?

I want to know what people are thinking about self-publishing these days!


28 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

The general view toward self-publishing is still that it's done by people that "couldn't make it;" therefore their work is sub-standard. Of course, people who don't do the work to make sure their books are well edited don't help the overall attitude people have toward self-publishing. The main issue for this, I think, is that most people are still invested in paper books even as they are switching over to e-books. When they think of a book, they think of its physical form. If you don't have that and if they can't go to a bookstore and find your book, they don't think of it as "real." All of that will just take time.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think it's changing. I know I don't view self-published authors differently. With fewer book stores, having a print book doesn't matter as much.

Carrie Butler said...

As someone transitioning from traditional to self-publishing, I hope the stigma is getting better! ;)

Sandra Almazan said...

The self-published stories I've encountered have varied in quality. Some I abandoned after a few pages; other works were so good they sent me looking for more from that author. I think having beta readers and hiring content editors raises the quality of the work. The more indie authors who present their work professionally, the quicker the stigma will fade.

Juliana Haygert said...

I know what you mean.
In Brazil, most people don't even know what self-publishing is ...
It's a shame because like you said, we do everything by ourselves!

J.L. Campbell said...

Most of the stories I've read that have been self-published have been good. Some, not so good, but with time and more well presented books coming out, the stigma will continue to fade.

I have no prejudices, some of the best books I've read in the last couple of years have been self-published.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I think most of us authors are just glad to have so many options for a change. And I think people are realizing that there isn't a right path to being published.

Toby Neal said...

Changing, but not there yet. Still doesn't have the cachet of being carried in bookstores, the main difference to me.
I console myself with the piles of filthy lucre I'm raking in!

Cathy Keaton said...

Whether the stigma is any better or not, I don't even care. People can think whatever they want, as long as they're not spouting false info and lies. Of course, all I care about is becoming successful and that is the best "revenge" against those who keep railing against self-publishing.

disregardtheprologue said...

I wonder the same thing sometimes. A year ago, I thought self-publishing was a last-resort thing, something you did when you ran out of other options. My attitudes have changed SO much! I'm 99% sure I'm not even going to pursue traditional publishing options at all, because I want self-publishing to be my first choice.

I've done so much reading on the subject that's been very enlightening... but I forget that not everyone I know has had the benefit of that experience. When I mentioned to my mom that I was going to self-publish, she went dead silent and said, "but... but you can still get famous that way, right?"

Um...

I feel like I need to put together an information packet to hand out to friends and family, and anyone else who still thinks that this route is "less than."

Cherie Reich said...

I still think we're in the process of changing people's minds about self-publishing. The more successful indie authors out there will make it easier for the authors to come, but at the same time, there's still a lot to prove.

I'm happy with the choices I've made to self-publish, but at the same time, I mumble my choice when someone asks, or make light of it. It wasn't a last resort (didn't try any other options), yet I still worry about the stigma. Of course, we work hard to prove the doubters wrong, and that's the most we can do right now.

Libby said...

I think the stigma is changing but SLOWLY. I'm still in the independent filmmaker mindset where doing it on your own is more about freedom than anything else. Will there be terrible books published? Sure. Look at Youtube for the filmmaking corollary. But there's great stuff too.

Elle Strauss said...

Yes, this: you should be more impressed, not less, because I've done the entire process myself!

RaShelle Workman said...

I turned down a traditional deal AFTER I self published. Just saying. There's more money, more freedom, and just plain more on the indie side.

Would I ever become a hybrid author? Maybe, if the right deal came along.

But I've even been negotiating foreign rights.

Indie is the right fit for me.

Gina Gao said...

I guess the view of people who self-publish is that they are people who never got discovered. That might hold people back.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Patricia Lynne said...

I think the stigma is slowly fading away. Some people still cling to it, but there are fewer and fewer people.

My grandma likes to ask me about my books and I can tell she's very proud of me, but she'll say things like "Maybe a publisher will..." I don't think she's taking a crack at the fact I self published, but that she is hopeful that a publisher will see my books, recognize my talent and I'll be the next JK Rowling. To her success = publisher.

Laura Pauling said...

I still see it but at the same time many people have changed their minds. Traditional authors have switched over and found success. It's any man's game!

Thanks for participating!

M Pax said...

I noticed opnions changing drastically among my local peers over the last year since I started publishing. Now many of them are doing it, too.

I think it doesn't have the stigma it used to, but I think we're still squinted at with a cautious eye.

Cally Jackson said...

Interesting question, Rachel. I'd say that it's still looked upon as substandard by most people I know. I agree that it takes heaps of work and deserves respect, but I also agree with other commenters above that some self pubbers are doing a slap-dash job and so are bringing down the reputation of the whole.

It will be interesting to see how the image of self publishing continues to develop in coming years.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I think the perception is that it's still inferior - unless you happen to sell a million and get picked up by a big publisher. I sometimes forget which of my blogger friends are self or traditionally published - it's not an issue or a concern. The more professional self-publishers become, the less the distinction will matter.

Rachel Morgan said...

Andrew - I think you're right about people's idea of paper book = real book/real author. So it's kind of funny when people have seen my books on a bookstore shelf looking like all the other books from publishing houses, and then they ask me who my publisher is and I say, "Me" ... And they say [pause] "Oh!" (Fortunately some of them say things like, "Oh, that's really cool!")

Alex - In South Africa ebooks haven't yet taken off like they have overseas (although it's starting to get there), so there are still just as many bookstores. So having a print book is still quite important if I want people in THIS country to read my stories!

Carrie - In my opinion, it is ... But very slowly!

Sandra - I've had the same experience with self-published books.

Rachel Morgan said...

Juliana - If many people in Brazil don't even know what self-publishing is, then hopefully you don't get That Look when you tell someone you're self-published!

J.L. - I agree the stigma will continue to fade over time.

Natalie - So true. There isn't one RIGHT path. There is only the path that is right for a particular author, and that isn't always the same as someone else's "right path".

Toby - That sounds like a good consolation to me!

Rachel Morgan said...

Cathy - You're right. It's a great feeling to show the "haters" that you can self-publish AND be successful!

disregardtheprologue - Haha! Looks like we've had similar experiences! I also did loads of reading and research about self-publishing before choosing that route, and I often wish that family and friends knew all the things I know.

Cherie - I also didn't try any other option. Self-publishing was what I chose first.

Libby - Yes, choosing this publishing route has a lot to do with freedom.

Rachel Morgan said...

Elle - Yes! People should be impressed by us!

RaShelle - Negotiating foreign rights? Now that's pretty cool!

Gina - Yes, that is the view many people have.

Patricia - I used to think like your grandma, that success = publisher. But I've seen a lot of different roads to success now, as I'm sure you have too!

Rachel Morgan said...

Laura - I think we'll see a lot more hybrid authors in the future. Traditional authors that have switched over to self-publishing, and vice versa.

M Pax - That is great! While I haven't seen this happening locally, I have seen it happening amongst all the writers I know online. A lot of them who started out looking for publishers are now deciding to publish their books themselves.

Cally - I think by the time we're at the end of our writing careers, things will have changed quite a bit :)

Annalisa - Self-publishers definitely need to be just as professional as traditional publishers.

Ros said...

There is, of course, another upside. If you go for 'traditional' publishing and your book doesn't sell, they will take it off the shelves and it may end up in the 'Bargain Bin' for pennies (how embarrassing and depressing!).

I went with CreateSpace and now I am up on Amazon (paperback and Kindle) and it will ALWAYS be available.

Rachel Morgan said...

Ros, it's great to know that our books will always be available :-)

Lee Tyler said...

I adore this quote from your article, "you should be more impressed, not less, because I've done the entire process myself!"