Are Self-Publishers Lazy?

I usually try to avoid three things: controversial subjects, shameless marketing, and bar fights. And most of the time I’m lucky.

But today I feel like making a stand. Yeah, it’s late and the USB ports on my laptop stopped working, but I want to tell you my honest opinion about self-publishers and all the people who have been criticizing them.

A number of agents, editors, and traditionally published authors consider self-publishing as some sort of mistake. Self-publishers are just lazy. Why? Because they didn’t go through the route. They didn’t query agents, they didn’t get rejected over and over again. Stuff like that. Also, they’re bad to the world of publishing, because some of them did try to get published via the traditional way, but were rejected. Oh, and did I mention this stupid, stupid habit they have, of selling e-books well below what the big Six deem as a fair price?

First of all, all these people earn money from publishing houses. They get salaries, commissions, and advance checks. So their opinions are biased. But there’s one more aspect that I find quite interesting. That most of these people think they really know something about books. Or should I say, what makes a book worthy of being published.

The matter of fact is that no one knows anything about these sort of things. The literary world is just a misty unknown. Publishers don’t know why a book doesn’t sell, they don’t know why a book sells, and most certainly they don’t know what’s going to sell.

So that’s just the financial factor of this book business. Because, whether we like it or not, publishing is a business. And publishing houses want to make money. The same principle applies to self-publishers.

But what about the so-called literary factor? Surely publishing house are there to sift through the pile of junk and choose the best of the best. Yeah, right. Besides the fact that a huge number of great writers got rejected more than once by publishing houses, I’m pretty sure that in such a subjective world as the art world no one can make such a decision.

And no one should have this power.

I honestly believe that. Except the audience. The readers. They should be the ones who choose whether a book is good or not. Other than that, prestige, experience, college degrees, whatever, they just count for less than nothing.

If there’s one thing self-publishing has really changed, it is simply this: it has given POWER to the reader. If the reader decides that trashy vampire fiction at a cost of .99$ is worthy of hitting the New York Times Bestseller List, then so be it. If he decides that paying $12.99 for a e-book is too much, then we, as writers, should respect that.

Any writer should respect his readers. By writing the best book he’s capable of. Without my readers I would be just a 21 year old Romanian who butchers the English language during the night. With you, I have a voice. I can deliver a message.

Also, this world is changing. Oh, it’s really, really changing. We live in an online world — and publishing houses don’t know how to market a book in such a world. People love to buy stuff from real people. That’s why my mother will buy a perfume because some actress she likes endorses it. The same principles applies to books. In this online world, people are going to buy a book because:

1. they’ve somehow interacted with the author via social media.

2. a friend recommended that book.

3. they’ve read a review about it.

The first one didn’t use to be there. It was all about word of mouth, reviews, and some other promo stuff, like book signings, etc. But in a mostly online environment such as this one, writers had to evolve.

That’s why self-publishing is growing at such a fast pace. Because we, as writers, are allowed to control the outcome. We can choose what to publish, when to publish, how to present it to the readers, how to market it. And then the reader does his job and decides whether your book is good or bad. There’s no middle man anymore.

Writers are allowed to make mistakes. We can fail, and there’s no one else to blame other than ourselves. Don’t you love that?

You can write a steampunk novella about cowboys and aliens and a god made of soap and his half-brother, Billy. And there’s no one to stop you from publishing it. Or, as some people say, you’re free to do art for art’s sake, without worrying about some guys in New York agreeing with you.

There’s one more thing critics have to say about self-publishing. That there are so many stay at home moms who decided to go indie that the market is saturated. If you self-publish, you’ll never stand out.

And if you go traditional, odds are you’ll never see a dime more than what you’ve got from your advance. Most books, traditional or indie, will never sell more than 2,000 copies. Most books never get enough attention. And it’s easier to blame a marketing department than to blame yourself.

That’s why self-publishing isn’t for everyone.

I have to admit, there are a lot of bad books out there. But not just indie books. Traditionally published books as well. But the reader is the one who’s doing all the hard work. Not the publishing houses. The reader, along with book bloggers and reading communities.

There are certain things that money can’t buy. Success is one of them.

In the end, no one knows what might sell. Publishers, agents, writers. It’s all just wishful thinking, actually.

I’ve experienced this myself. For some reason, my short story, Remember, has been constantly outselling my other short story, A Sad, Sad Symphony. When I wrote them, I would have put my money on the latter. Why? Because I believe that it’s a better story.

This is one more thing most writers don’t get. Success is not determined solely by the quality of a book. In fact, by judging some of the bestselling books of the past decade, we might even say that success isn’t determined by the quality of a book at all.

We can attribute success, to some extent at least, to marketing, covers, blurbs, reviews, etc, but in the end, when the time comes for a book’s sales to explode, nothing can stop it. I think Fifty Shades of Grey is a good example.

To be honest, I think publishing houses are headed for a slow death. And it’s not self-publishing who’s the threat. It’s the fact that the world is going full digital. Bookstores are slowly becoming an excuse for nostalgia. E-books are outselling paperbacks, more and more writers are going direct, choosing to ask readers whether their books are worth the trouble or not.

Self-publishers aren’t lazy. Self-publishers know that readers are the ones who have turned Gutenberg’s press from a nice gadget into one of the world’s most important inventions. And, of course, they act accordingly.

***

P.S. Remember is #2,520 Free in Kindle Store and #44 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Short Stories. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, you can do so by going here. It would make me very happy to see my short story in the top #20 in the Short Stories category.

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195 comments on “Are Self-Publishers Lazy?

  1. indigokittyknits says:

    Seems to me that self publishers are people who are driven to succeed, and willing to do what it takes to get their creation into the hands of those they made it for. Who cares what the "establishment" thinks? They are quaking in their boots as they are losing control!

    Great post!

  2. I agree. I think anyone who has something to say should be able to self publish.. If its good then people will read it. If they don't then at least you get real feedback about your writing.

    I imagine publishing would be more about what's selling or hot in the minute…

  3. Christian, you make an excellent point and the key is the willingness to accept the feedback that can make the product 'better' whatever that might mean.

    Ivon

  4. Mihai, you make a valid point. It's a great thing to be part of this thrilling new direction the publishing world races through. The digital era is here to stay and it made already a strong stand, but like everything else the unknown is scary. Thanks for the post!

  5. tarunss says:

    Great post. I've been recently contemplating whether or not to continue pursuing the traditional route, and this certainly puts some of my misconceptions and fears at ease. I believe that there are pros and cons to both self-publishing and traditional publishing, but I think that until we shelve our misconceptions of self-publishing, then we won't be able to properly compare the pros and cons to see which works.

  6. crowgirl11 says:

    one can do both. i do. there are pros & cons to either and each way one has to be motivated, get on the road and do one's best to sell the work. end of story :)

  7. I received a couple dozen rejections for my novel, Unspoken, before I opted to go the route of self-publishing. It wasn't the rejections that led me down that path either, at least not in the sense that one might think. I received an email that was sent to me from the assistant of a fairly well-established literary agent which consisted of, "Thank you for sending **** the query for your novel, UNSPOKEN, which she’s read with interest. Although there were several strong elements to the narrative (especially the overall concept and poetic voice), I’m afraid that on balance she was not sufficiently compelled by the book to feel that she would be able to market it as effectively as you’d like to publishers.

    We do hope that you will soon find a good, enthusiastic champion for UNSPOKEN.

    This comes with all best wishes."

    That bit of praise contained within the rejection hammered home the fact that I could have written the most brilliant manuscript that has ever been seen, and it would more than likely receive hundreds of rejections before anyone actually accepted the full manuscript for perusal. It's a problem with the market being at saturation point, I think. There are too many aspiring authors with far too many manuscripts for the agents and publishers to really pay adequate attention to even those that perhaps deserve it.

    I decided on self-publishing because I wanted to see if I couldn't get myself up and going without a publisher behind me; if I couldn't make some sort of name for myself in time for my next manuscript to maybe receive a bit more attention. It remains to be seen whether that was a wise decision, but I stand behind it just the same.

    All of us, the self-publishers, have our different motivations for why we do what we do; and, right or not, at least we're doing something. It's better than sitting at home with a manuscript that never sees the light of day because we're too afraid to take a leap of faith and see where we land.

  8. L.S. Engler says:

    I'm pretty sure anyone suggesting that self-publishers are lazy hasn't ever self-published anything. All of your points are dead on, Christian. It's interesting, because in so many other industries, the Self-Made Man is usually a symbol of strength and determination, but the publishing world has been dominated by the traditional method for so long that the opinion is a little skewed. Granted, in most artistic professions, there's always this undercurrent of the independent faction doing their own thing and eschewing the status quo…my mind immediately goes to the '90s 'zine scene or dime novels and pulps before then. The start of the ebook and really great, easy ways like Lulu and CreateSpace to bring a book to print independently is just an extremely great tool to give that indie artist another venue for potential success.

    It's so exciting to be an independent author in this day in age. Fantastic post!

  9. Bella Grace says:

    Christian,

    Great post! I decided to self-publish as I said above because I didn't want my words distorted. I wanted to make sure the lesson would be taught well. I wanted to go against the traditional way and make my own tradition. If I never sold another copy, at least I can say I did it. I am proud of myself, and that's what matters.

    Be encouraged. Be inspired. Be who He created you to be.

    Bella Grace

  10. ljr3 says:

    All so very true. Some of the best writing would never see the light of day if left to regular publishing. It is all subjective. I am still wary of self-publishing though. Not because of how I will be seen but because of legal concerns. Perhaps that is more of a non-fiction issue, I'm not sure. Thus why excellent citation and a professional editor, if nothing else, are so very important.

  11. Malcolm Miller says:

    I have self-publishe two books of poetry. Nobody else would have wanted to publish them – there's no profit in poetry books.

  12. Lois says:

    I've self-published on Kindle because despite all my efforts over years and years and years I have not been able to find a publisher or an agent. I am an ordinary person who knows no-one in 'the business', I have no connections or contacts and am up against such competition that unless I do it myself it will never happen. That is why i self-publish, and I work damn hard at editing, proof-reading, publicizing and promoting… all my own work.

    Great post, thanks very much! I hope it receives lots and lots of likes

  13. win says:

    Reblogged this on I WIN.

  14. How right you are. And while Fifty Shades of Grey continues to sell so well, its literary quality is highly debatable. So it's all up to the reader in the end.

  15. win says:

    AS OF sept 22 i will be sold on amazon and smashwords too yahoo nook too

  16. lens1 says:

    Taking mental notes: No bar fighting and controversial subjects. I already really suck at shameless marketing, so… Back to Guantanamo arguments and bar fights! : )

  17. I think self-publishing is hard work and a great opportunity for us all. Great post!

  18. I've been traditionally published eight times. It was good experience for when I decided to self-publish. 1) I knew my writing was good enough. 2) I like controlling every aspect from start to finish. 3) I could do most of the work myself: the writing, the preliminary editing, the cover art, the promo. 4) I found good betas to make sure I released a good product.

    My first self-published book is being officially released tomorrow. I'm tired, anxious, happy, elated, and everything in between. :) It's been one heck of a ride, but I love it! I love having that control.

    I don't think I could go back now. I'm enjoying the process so very much. Promo is the hardest, but going through a publisher, I did a lot of that myself, too. I get better at it every day. Are self-publishers lazy?

    FAR FROM IT.

  19. Very well said! I'd love to see this entire post re-published in http://www.selfpublishingreview.com – would you consider submitting it there?

  20. Reblogged this on pigeon weather productions and commented:
    Christian Mihai's excellent post about self-publishing.

  21. A superb post and very very true. Thank you.

  22. Odette says:

    (I write the character of Odette) I didn't even bother with self-publishing and went straight to the blog. I have 3 kids and a business. Also I get the pleasure of having a blog and writing fiction :)

    Great post, loved it.

  23. David Crews says:

    Hi Christian,

    I've been following your recent posts with interest. This one is excellent and insightful.

    I've waited forty years to do the unquestionably hard work of writing a big science-fiction novel because the traditional publishing system was a total conceptual barrier for me.

    I did not want to write something that took so much to do and meant so much to me only to wade through the muck of years of submissions and rejections and, even if lucky enough to be published, receive a pittance for it. Not to mention losing control of my work, my title, my art, my edit, and everything else to some aloof marketer, someone who would toss my book and twenty others at the brief wall of bookstore commerce to see which one might make any money. You are right–they do not know what will work. For them, it's a numbers game and not a quality game.

    I cannot relate how enthused I am to see this monumental sea change in publishing and to be able to try my hand with it as it grows and evolves. I'm halfway through writing my first novel and I am amazed at how much fun and how much work it really is. I can't wait to finish it and begin to create a social media engine to promote my work and myself as an author and see if I can join the ranks of those who have made self-publishing a success–not as the Industry defines it, but as we define it for ourselves. The product and its success or failure will rest squarely on my shoulders, but at least I won't hand my pearls over as a supplicant to others.

  24. Dr Wm Ryzek says:

    so, what do all of you think-better to go solo with a book or use one of the self-publishing places like xulon or crossbooks? They are expensive but are they helpful, really, or just another black hole sucking up money?

  25. Dr Wm Ryzek says:

    BTW, I forgot to say what an outstanding post this is Christian-thanks much

  26. iamnaia says:

    Very well written.

    Thank you,

    Naia.

  27. pcawdron says:

    Great post. Self-publishing is tough…

  28. Tj Burdick says:

    I too like the freedom that self -publishing offers, but I would love to work with a publisher for their expertise, training and insight.

  29. Great post and very much in line with what I have been thinking (as well as some of the "experts" out there). I think it's time that the Big Six loses its death grip on writers. They rarely treated writers with the respect they deserved (personal experience) and are now reaping the rewards.

  30. Excellent post! All of it very true! For self-publishers that do all the work properly (professional editing, cover art), it's hard work, there's so much to do. But it's really rewarding all the same!!

    And I'd love to read about a soap god and his half brother Billy! :)

  31. dlacoursiere says:

    you’re free to do art for art’s sake,

    …..without worrying about some guys in New York agreeing with you.

    You said it Brother!!! Right on!!!!

  32. Emma McCoy says:

    Great post. The publishing world is changing rapidly and the traditional route is so limited. I've been struggling for a long time over whether or not to self-publish. I have realized, though, that i need to just jump in on my own and see if I can swim. Thanks for your insight.

  33. I think many people who self publish don't care what other people think about their decision not to take their work the traditional route. They're not only telling their stories, but they are also working and making money to help support themselves. Some do better than others in this arena no matter how good or bad somebody might think they are as a writer. Opinions are just opinions and what's horrible to one person might be amazing to another person. Why let your voice be silenced based on some perceived glory of the traditionally published world. From somebody who has gone both routes via short and longer stories in the past I would say I like self publishing better. It's the one place where I have complete control over my story and if I don't want that sex scene in there I don't have to add it for the sake of having one. Some of my readers aren't always happy when there isn't one, but at least I still get to tell my story the way I see it, not the way somebody else thinks it should be seen.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your take on the issue.

  34. The problem with being prejudiced towards those who self-publish is that people self-publish for a variety of reasons. The type people think of with disdain, perhaps, is the person who throws out a first draft of a novel or story, and with no editing or further thought, self-publishes it. Yet I'm aware of people who have been offered traditional publishing, had agents, and then chose to self-publish because, after much research, they believed it was the better option for them. Then there are the people who receive rejection after rejection, not because their writing is poor, but because their idea is too different to be seen as marketable, or because many agents liked it and almost bit but they didn't love it as much as they loved another piece of work, and they had limited slots. Finally, there are those who simply want more control over their work and finances. I suppose the list goes on. Honestly, I don't buy many e-books, because I enjoy holding a real book in my hand too much, and I don't get as immersed in a story when it's digital, but the market is growing. I don't have a problem with the growth of digital books, or self-publishing, so long as I can still get the majority of my books with proper pages and a spine.

  35. sula1968 says:

    Great post thank you. I have had a few pieces published in anthologies, I never received payment but that was unimportant what mattered to me was that someone had chosen and believed in my work. A few years ago I wrote a children's picture book which I believe is excellent, my mother is an award winning artist and she did the illustrations for me. I spent days submitting to publishers and months anxiously waiting for their response but all I got was heart breaking rejections. I REALLY wanted the satisfaction of being accepted by a publisher that meant more than anything else. However reluctantly I am now getting the book into the right format to be published as an e book. I don't know much about the practical side of this but at least all the work which we put into it won't be in vain.

  36. Thank you Cristian for this encouragement. This is such an encouragement to me to go ahead and self-publish my book.When you approach the ivory towers of traditional publishing you are told of the daunting task of creeping forward, fearfully, tentatively with your offering that may or may not be accepted by some high priestess who sits in judgement on your writing skills. And you're told to wear the rejections as a badge of honour. Bah, I say! Self-publish it is!

  37. I enjoyed this post A LOT, Cristian! I've considered self-publishing myself, especially on the Kindle market for short stories because I can't seem to make any head way anywhere else. It's a tough world out there in publishing. I don't know what makes for a success either, but you're right. No one knows. I downloaded your story! Can't wait to read it.

    Cheers,

    Cristi :)

  38. combs2jc says:

    This was great ! I know what you mean by thinking one book will do better than another and it turns out the other way. I attitude is that my readers are right, and I can learn something from them. What I want to do is to give my readers what they want, while finding a way to express what i want. But without readers we would be just writing to the wind.

    PS I never worry about what the "experts" say … they are usually the last to find out.

  39. Thank you very much for this post. You are so right! I will try to self-publish soon – up to now I did take the "traditional" way, but I need to have things published… Thanks a lot for your brilliant insight!

  40. Valentina says:

    I self-published 3 books, the third one will come out on the market by the end of september 2012. I will publish two additional books, which now in the making. I had a message and the world was waiting.

  41. ohbenjy says:

    this is brilliant and filled with relevant information!!

  42. Terrific post Cristian… thanks again for the 'view from the real world'… LUVIN'IT! cheers

  43. Simon Eskow says:

    I hope this doesn't come off as crudely mercantile, but crowdsourcing is a brave new world, with the potential for some interesting literature.

  44. simonhlilly says:

    Not that experienced, but with twenty-odd books published, even with the best publishing houses it is difficult not to feel like a whore being pimped sometimes! There is a huge Gordian knot of Art, Business and Value that plagues and skews appreciation and acceptance of creative endeavour….

  45. […] Are Self-Publishers Lazy?. Rate this:Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Filed under Writing/Books and tagged creative writing, Publishing, self-publishing, shaking things up, short stories, writing | Leave a comment […]

  46. Starr says:

    Amen. Either way should work for people given their own choice and appreciation of each medium. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Thanks for posting this.

  47. stickyquote says:

    Great post!

  48. I for one love the self publishing realm. You get to create your book from start to finish. Most traditionally published authors can't say they helped their "BABY" learn to walk and talk, but as a self published author I did. I was there for the first cover creation, the first big edit, and all the marketing. I was in control of how my book was seen and where. Not to mention you get a better royalty payment than most traditionally published authors. They would have to sell 30% more books to make the same as some self published authors. Thanks for this blog!

  49. AJ Rose says:

    Here's another one the Big Six haven't considered: those of us who HAVE been published traditionally (myself by a small press, not one of the biggies, disclaimercakes) and found the entire experience somewhat lacking, and decided to venture out on our own.

    If I'm ALREADY doing more marketing than my publisher, and

    If I'm ALREADY buying the cover from an artist whose work I prefer rather than the rancid cover I had the first time around, and

    If I'm ALREADY dealing with delays in royalties, snarky attitude from the press's owner about said delays, and THEIR MISTAKES on MY WORK (they butchered my blurb right at distribution and while most ebook outlets fixed it AMAZON didn't, ouch!), and

    If I'm ALREADY taking it up the tan track with THEIR gouging contracts offering such deep discounts that for every $50 in sales, I make about a buck…

    Then WHY SHOULD I STAY? Why shouldn't I control the discounts I'll agree to with retailers? Why shouldn't I get the entire cut of profits if I'm already doing the majority of the promo? Why shouldn't I have veto power on the cover, and hell, learn how to design them myself? Why should I split the sales with them when I'm doing everything but the actual uploading of the files?

    I'm a good enough writer to be published, and I did go through the query/rejection/finally accepted process.

    I'm just no longer drinking their Kool-Aid.

  50. I disagree with a lot of what you said, but it was a very enjoyable, well-argued rant. Speaking as a real book aficionado who haunts second hand book shops and never reads reviews. I also have a wax model of a Kindle, into which I stick pins now and then.

  51. Interesting angle…by do you think all self-publishers secretly want to earn some attention of the publishing houses and agents?

  52. seapunk2 says:

    While I don't think that self-publishers are lazy, I do think that there is too much garbage out there and with that, the quality of the written word will diminish and readers will eventually think less, imagine less and settle for less.

    If an individual, such as myself, does not have the following necessary for via social media, he or she is doomed in terms of self-publishing.

    Traditional publishing has it's place, for fine literary works and those with time to wait.

    Fifty Shades of Gray? I've read some of it and find it to be pure garbage.

    All that being said, it's anyone's right to speak and create through the written word, just as it's wonderful to paint a masterpiece or get out the coloring book and crayons.

  53. You bring up some really good points. Maybe someday I'll do self-publishing, but for now I want to see if I can still make it the traditional route.

  54. Whitney Rains says:

    Reblogged this on A Serendipitous Happenstance and commented:
    Great article of the current rift between the publishing world and self publishing.

  55. Whitney Rains says:

    Well said sir!

  56. jclfaltot says:

    Good post. I'd have to agree on most of this when it comes to my own writing, I usually pour a ton of work into a certain subject or idea, only to find out that most other people prefer a completely separate idea of mine over the former. Weird to think that as artists, we feel that the pieces we are most connected to are the works others will identify best with as well. I've since found that the works we attach ourselves to the most (as being 'better', for instance) may never touch others the way it touches us, the writers. But hey, you really can't please everybody.

  57. Jim Brennan says:

    So true, and said in the voice of a true writer. I was at the Michener Museum yesterday in Bucks County, PA and read rejection stories he got to the point he was about to abandon being a writer at all, before he went on to be one of the most prolific writer of his time. I downloaded Remember and will do a review when I get around to read it. Stay true!

  58. Wait, so *agents* say self-publishers are lazy because they don't go through *agents*? This may have as much to do with with self-interest as it does self-publishing. I see similar arguments in regards to musicians selling and distributing without a label. The publishers/producers are no longer the only road, the gatekeepers.

    Not that they were flawless gatekeepers, as far as this notion of "literary standards" go…raise your hand everybody if you've never read or even seen a really bad book put out through a publishing house! Which is not to say there aren't self-publishers who put out crap as well, just that as an argument, it doesn't seem to make that much of a difference, as ultimately the talent lies with the creator, not the means of distribution.

  59. Pamela Hodgdon says:

    Well said! I'm of a generation that grew up with books and bookstores. I'm still reading books. I will be getting an e-reader soon and the thought of self publishing is exciting. In my lifetime I will see myself published, where I didn't see much hope the traditional way. I really think that there are just as many bad "traditionally published" books out there as there are in self publishing. Publishing is changing for the better. I'm ready to embrace it.

  60. Sara Flower says:

    Thank you for writing about this!

    Self publishers lazy? Indeed. It takes a lot more guts and work to make a decision to go on your own, but it's worth it.

  61. No Lettuce says:

    So true. I see it like this: You have something to say and a need to convince others to listen. You can express the entire story and do it better than anyone else. I use the analogy of a dramatic court case in which you bear the burden of proof, know each and every detail, memorized the time- line and have dirtied your hands enough to be passionate about it in your sleep. All you're doing is choosing to represent yourself in the case in lieu of hiring an attorney. This is something that is done often even when the person needing representation is assigned a public defender costing them nothing.

    He or she still feels that they are the best expert, the star witness and wants to tell their story their way.

    As a writer, you want to speak and you don't need to pay someone to do it for you. Nobody is going to love your "baby" (book) like you will and no attorney will be as passionate about your "case" than you.

    I liken the publishing houses to the jury except they are made up of faux-peers paid to listen with one ear on your story and the other left on the money. It's biased as you said. The readers are the true jury and they may or may not like your story or see you as convincing enough, but at least you were able to directly deliver your story and shine light on your "proof" that your work is worthy of reading and admiring you, the lawyer….uhm, writer.

  62. I am looking to self-publish my first photography book via Blurb. Once I get a copy of Lightroom 4, my plan is to self-publish my book by the middle of October, the end of October at the latest. I enjoyed reading your post.

  63. Lu says:

    Great post! I decided not to self-publish because I wanted to make sure that my work was good enough to get attention. I was able to pick up an agent and have been working a re-write, which I am thinkful for. So, in the end I think it will be better if and when it ever gets out. This publishing stuff is so hard to navigate. Thanks for the insight.

  64. frenchfry36 says:

    I don't see self-publishing as lazy – I see it as brave. But I'm not sure I'm brave enough! (yet)

  65. If I were ever brave enough to finish my novel, I'd consider self-publishing. I don't like "playing politics" and I'm kind of abrasive. I tend to get on people's nerves. It would be easier if I had to deal with less people lol

  66. Lois says:

    Brilliant post! I've been building up to writing something similar but your post is really excellent!

  67. bookpeeps says:

    Great post. Having also read many of the comments I believe I will end up self-publishing. I think which way to go depends on so many variables and having both options available is a good thing. I do believe traditional publishing houses have to be concerned though with all of these talented writers coming out by their own steam. It's too soon to see what the ultimate impact will be but in the meantime, Christian, keep doing what you are doing!

  68. Yeah I have to agree with you there. Although there are some howlers out there in the ebook world, I've found probably just as many in the bargain bins, traditionally published paperbacks with cliched characters and tired plots that have me yawning. Truth be told lately I've found some of those books tend to get put down before I'm halfway through because I can practically predict the ending and usually I'm right. I've always thought we should write what we want as well, art for art's sake. But I think one thing at the back of my mind is still that traditional model. It's like the difference between using a library card and the Internet for researching. Both methods involve hours of study but one means you have to catch a bus to get to the library and then you're limited by hours, the number of books you can borrow, how much you can copy for research. The other method sees you sitting at home downloading material to look through at your leisure. I guess though one thing that I try to keep in mind is that having your work published makes you a published writer. It has nothing to do with who published it first.

  69. Reblogged this on thescribblaire and commented:
    The Scribblaire pretty much agrees with Christian. There's some great stuff available as e-books which would never see the light of day if it wasn't possible to self-publish. Traditional publishers seem to focus their attention on 'celebrity' writers or established ones.
    A fellow author says that having to find a publisher takes the fun out of writing.
    Check out the following on Amazon. https://kindle.amazon.com/work/harry-says-ebook/Bhttps://kindle.amazon.com/search/books?keywords=ahttps://kindle.amazon.com/work/greece-venice-trav

  70. Debra Colby-Conklin says:

    Both my books were self-published and I've never regretted it. I'm first and foremost a businesswoman and selling my books…to me at least…is a business and should be treated as such.

    I wrote my column, Mom's Eye View:
    http://www.exploringlincoln.com/2012/08/moms-eye-

    for 3 years before writing my book. I found an established market and was able to use that following to sell dozens of my book.

    Are we lazy…no way Jose', we're some of the hardest working authors out there!

  71. sharna sammy says:

    Hi Cristian

    I'm working in a publishing house for the last 7 years, and I have to say, this is a damn good post! I have great respect for self-published writers.

  72. Here's a little story about self publishing the old fashioned way … anything but lazy. Self publishing is a proactive response to an outmoded system that has become an impediment to getting the greatest amount of good, quality writing into the hands of readers.

    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/08/30

  73. AlphaEN says:

    You took the words out of my mouth with respect to 50 Shades… In this instance, the reader's test clearly failed. To think it was once a work of a fanfiction – and as a fanfiction writer I cannot bear the bad name it creates to those who actually put a lot of effort into writing a quality piece, even though it is a fanfic. I suppose, with more opportunities self-publishing offers, we as readers must be more diligent in maintaining our bars high and our critical thinking sharp. Not every bestseller is good. Not every rejected novel is a failure. And to self-publish successfully both from financial and reader's feedback standpoint actually requires a lot of hard work most of which the author has to do himself.

  74. The most reassuring sense I have read for a while – thanks

  75. Very insightful post! In my humble opinion self-publishing is self-capitalism.

  76. coastalmom says:

    So thought provoking. I so needed to read your point of view! Thank you for not getting into a bar fight and staying home to give us your perspective on this subject! (smile) When I was young, I knew I wantedt to be a writer and I imagined young readers going to my shelf and finding my name with a slew of books attached! I love the smell of a good book and I reeeeeally wanted to see my name on one! But I agree, digital is probably going to take over the market someday. But then they said that about movie theaters when companies started mailing dvds so maybe we still have time… I did go the self publishing route for one of my children's books many moons ago… funny, I still tried to get i published and I got a rejection letter from filled with spelling errors from a publisher telling me that they didn't like my font. Soooo you are the publisher… change the dang font! Ya know? I mean you usually don't get the whole book with illustrations laid out for ya… knowing the rule about never arguing with a rejection letter (lol) I always wondered it this was some young kid interning for the summer there but just moved on.

    But your blog is timely, since I have a book on the racks with just a few pages left, ready for something. Self Publishing? Digital? Your points are all worth pondering! Thanks!

    Now maybe you have given me the proverbial kick in the butt I needed to stop procrastinating on my blog and finish my book!

  77. […] everyone! So, I  have some smashing news. Inspired by this post by the wonderful Cristian Mihai, I decided to take a shot at self-publishing through the […]

  78. avwalters says:

    Lazy, eh? So that's what they're saying. Wouldn't know because I'm so damn busy with this self-publishing thing. There's a myth that we're self-publishing in hopes of attracting the attention of a 'real' publisher–as though that would be a solution. After several "this is very nice but not what we're looking for" rejections, I stumbled upon self/small publishing. I can't say I'd go the traditional way now. First book won an award, second book set for print release this week. More work than I'd imagined. More satisfaction that I ever dreamed.

  79. Reblogged this on Fantasyfic and commented:
    Outstanding post by Cristian Mihai. I thought you guys would be interested.

  80. Hi, there, a lot of good points, which in the end means writers, as with everyone else, must do their own thing, must study the marketplace if they want to earn money from their labours. I believe the traditional publishers have lost their place in society and the marketplace. They have forgotten who they serve. In fact I'll go on and say they suffer from the disease of the age, self-absorbed complacency and greed. I like what you say, keep doing it.

  81. I look forward to reading your short stories. I never thought I would like a kindle, but since I have one I have read so many books I normally would not have. I am also finding I am enjoying books by self publishers – I for one never thought of them as lazy but courageous in opening a door to publishing.

  82. foldedcranes says:

    I find this post really interesting, thanks a lot. I've thought on and off about the self-publishing thing ever since I read a book called "Flyboy action figure comes with Gasmask"; it lead me to No Media Kings: http://nomediakings.org/

    Self publishing is many things, and some self publishers may indeed be lazy. But that's surely got nothing to do with anything?

  83. Colleen says:

    From my perspective, writers waiting for publishing houses are the lazy. They are counting on someone else to do their bidding. In today's age, we have almost everything we need to get feedback as well as promote ourselves without a anyone else doing it for us. Anyone ready to self-publish is eager, wants to learn and wants to see how far they can even take it. Also, I disagree that money can't buy you success… actually, if you have a lot of it and know what you're doing, it can.

  84. Reblogged this on Indie Thinkin' by B.G.Mitchell and commented:
    This is the first blog post I've ever reblogged. Cristian is a wonderful writer who articulates much of what I think about indie publishing and the life of an indie author. But don't believe me. Judge for yourself. Here is 'Are Self-Publishers Lazy?'…

  85. Sharon Salu says:

    I agree with you: self-publishing is the future. The only thing constant in life is change, and the world of publishing is changing before our very eyes.

  86. […] Are Self-Publishers Lazy? (cristianmihai.net) Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  87. ModernIdeals says:

    Lately I have been thinking along the same lines. I as an avid reader of just about everything make the ultimate choice to buy or not to buy. Price may affect my final choice but when I sit down to read I want to be entertained, and I find it hard to put a price on worthwhile entertainment. As a side note I feel the same way about the music industry. They care more about their bottom line than helping truly good artists.

  88. Self publishers are creators. The true creator doesn't prefer to follow the pattern of others. But sometimes creators find more success by having patterns that they use and can alter.

  89. mastersquill says:

    There are endless tales of now-famous writers who compiled long lists of rejections before the big break came. As as been said here, one cannot know in advance what will or will not sell. More to the point, perhaps, sales do not necessarily indicate quality. I've read several books that received very little acclaim but kept my attention from beginning to end. We all want our books to sell but just getting a book written and published is an incredible feat and brings great satisfaction. I think the statement, Be who He created you to be is most important.

    David

    Doulos Christos

  90. Bella Grace says:

    Hey David,

    I totally agree!!! I told my mother and my children the same thing. The fact that I can say I did it, means more to me than anything. Thank you for sharing! :-)

  91. jefferyrn says:

    Wow! You have inspired me to self-elecronically publish. If only I had something to put out there.

  92. I appreciate the rant, and there is a lot of truth to it. As one who does have the fancy degree and is attempting, for a variety of reasons, to traditionally publish, I couldn't agree with you more about self publishing leading the charge in the rise of the reader. I applaud it. I have to say, though, I am not hearing, in the publishing world, an argument that self-publishers are lazy. Quite the opposite in fact. I think (and from what I've seen, the industry more or less agrees, perhaps bitterly) that self-publishers are some of the hardest working, most motivated writers out there because they have to be, or they won't get the attention their art deserves. Of course, that's becoming true for the traditionally published as well because there is less and less publicity support behind them as the industry transforms. There's a lot of muck out there. Unfortunately you're right that a lot of it is also coming from traditional publishing houses. Ultimately the cream rises to the top, or at least some of it does. Either way, the road to a good book is hard, for both the writer and the reader. Good luck to you!

  93. […] The second is from the blog by Cristian Mihai: Are Self-Publishers Lazy? […]

  94. Ron says:

    I self published (via Amazon), a teen sci-fi novel, Alien Assistant. It's been out for a few months with little sales beyond friends and family. Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin were no help. It cost me more to have the manuscript edited, eBook formatted, and for a cover than I've made so far. Even putting it in the KDP Select program was a waste. Not one sale or loan. So right now I am on hold. I have more books to format, but I'm not sure I want to enter the market with another loss at the start. Hopefully, someone will stumble upon the book and it might take off. In any case, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I wrote a book and had it published.

  95. lauramccain says:

    Thanks for that post. It gives me some hope.

  96. Personally I find some of the best written content has been by people are self published and simply wanting to put something out there because they would like to share an idea or a story with the world – the money that comes in afterwards being an icing on the cake rather than the motivation. Reminds me of two books I purchased from a philosophy doctorate student regarding existentialism – great books (at least where I stand) that I could never get to enjoy if one were reliant on the old institutions that filter out and decide what is and isn't worthy of published based on the almighty dollar.

  97. madysonhall says:

    I think this is absolutely correct. My husband just published his debut novel on his own through a reputable self publishing company, Booklocker as Tyler Rudd Hall. But the process of actually getting it to that point took almost years. We hd it professionally edited (and paid for it to the tune of $2000) and he spent time writing at least three or four drafts. Self publishing is actually more work and a little more money at first than traditional if you want to do it the right way and actually produce a quality piece of writing. I think the only reason it gets a bad rap is because of publishing house bias and those who do self publish crappy writing with a second thought to editing, rewriting or their audience. Readers are smart enough now to choose for themselves and as writers that is enoowering. This is a great post because it really shows the state of the market now!

  98. This is such a great article. It seems that the self publishers are the ones who are more driven to succeed

  99. John says:

    It's so fascinating how the Web is changing so many things all around the world. Great reading!

  100. Tamsyn says:

    The problem now though is not so much laziness, but desperation. I've been looking for a publisher and/or literary agent, but the fact is that they all declare "no unsolicited manuscripts"

    It is almost virtually impossible to find someone that will even read your email, let alone open an manuscript and read it.

    Because of this I understand those that self-publish. It's because they couldn't even get feedback from the so-called experts.

    Really, for someone without personal connections, is there actually another choice, other than self-publishing?

  101. George Vagabon says:

    Excellent well thought out article. As you say – and I can confirm that from 40 years of writing experience – nobody knows nothing. What will or won't sell. Agents and Publishers feel they have to give an opinion on your work because they know it al!l What one has to understand is that it is only their opinion and not a the final judgement. The writing and publishing culture is changing dramatically and us writers need to embrace it because we can benefit from it. Sadly some Agents and Publishers are resisting this. But in the end they are going to be the losers.

  102. ltownsdin says:

    I'm thinking of self publishing. Thanks for the good info.

  103. Reblogged this on beginingsinwriting and commented:
    Good points: all of them.

  104. psampson2888 says:

    nicely done

  105. naomiwrites2 says:

    thank you so much Cristian,,,I chose to self publish because I had something to say that I feel would help others…you have spoken for us all so well,,,

  106. naomiwrites2 says:

    I love your writing style and what you have to say…thank you for your encouragement…that's what it's all about to encourage one another to soar higher…:-)

  107. Excellent article. I couldn't have said it better myself. I'm one of those who got rejected numerous times, not because my writing was bad, but because the book was too long and I refused to take anything out. Fast forward twenty years and my husband convinced me to cut the book in two and self-publish. I did this in Feb. and May of this year. I'm ecstatic! Am I rich? No, and I may never be. Am I discouraged? Not in the least. I'm writing my third book which I hope to have out by the end of the year. So what am I, exactly? Satisfied. I'm doing what I love, writing what I love, and it feels great!

  108. kelloggs77 says:

    I've been working on a children's book, and I am almost completely convinced that I will go the indie publishing route. Guess I'll be one of those stay-at-home moms saturating market. I've been reading David Poynter's book on self-publishing, and it has become very clear that people who are driven to self-publish and succeed at it must be the antithesis of lazy. In fact, at times I become a bit overwhelmed at all the work ahead of me and wonder if it might just be easier to send my manuscript to publishing houses for the rest of my life. But then I remember the fact that even with a publishing house, the author is often charged with taking on the bulk of marketing anyway, so I may as well just keep control over my book from the get-go. Thanks for posting this and reaffirming my goals. Wishing you much continued success.

  109. micmilgarden says:

    Although I agree that self-publishing is the wave of the future I do lament the fact that we have lost the art of editing. So many books nowadays–whether rushed to publication or self-published, could have used the hand of a good editor, both for molding the content to a well-crafted story, as well as for simple grammar, etc. Maybe a book finds an audience because of salacious or trendy content, but in the long run if this book is not well-written we all (writers and readers) will suffer.

  110. stephenpruis says:

    If you look at what has happened to the Hollywood "studios" that used to control the business big time, they have become pretyy much the distributing arm of the movie making industry. The studios don't make movies anymore, but they do market them and distribute them.

    And, while many self-published books could use a good editor (if I had the energy, I would hang out my shingle) we are a long way down the road from the vanity press era.

    The big publishers could seize the moment by offering what they do have to offer (and it ain't literary juice) and offer distribution, editing, and development services.

  111. Very well said, Cristian! Since 1994 I've been published with Bantam, HarperCollins, Dorchester, and RandomHouse. This year, I decided to try self-publishing for many of the very reasons you put forth. So far…so good :)

  112. naomiwrites2 says:

    I agree totally with you on that one…:-)

  113. naomiwrites2 says:

    Very well articulated…thank you…:-)

  114. mbali09 says:

    Why wait for someone else to tell you that you are worthy? When did validation from other trump what the individual knows to be true or real? The reality is that those who consider themselves to be custodians of quality are actually gatekeepers. They decide which voices will be heard and which topics make headlines.

    It seems that at some point someone decided that we can't be trusted to make our minds about what is worthy of our time and money. Self-publishers give the power back to the public. They give us the opportunity to decide what is worthy and what we are prepared to pay for it.

  115. Amy Duncan says:

    Having just become a self-publisher myself, I agree entirely with what you've written here. I may want to reblog this, with your permission of course! Excellent piece.

  116. Self publishing is doing for writers what digital music services like iTunes have done for musicians. It levels the playing field and allows any writer to publish. From there it is the strength of their work and their ability to market it that will make or break them as a writer, not the opinion of an editor. Publishing houses may not die off completely if they learn to play in this new world. Great post by the way. As a guy who owns several printing presses I totally agree with your comment about Gutenberg’s press.

  117. Suzanne says:

    I really like this article. You make some good points. Self publishing isn't lazy – it makes good sense in the modern world and it cuts out the middle man.

  118. leamuse says:

    When the power goes out, I will be the one with a ragged paperback and a candle!

  119. I think you hit the high points. Anyone who thinks self publishers/indie authors are lazy should try it sometime. Sure it might seem easy to write a trashy novel, skip the editing, then post it up with Kindle Direct Publishing. However, left alone, only a few copies will sell and no harm will come to the other Independent Authors in the community of interest who work hard on a good story, work hard to properly edit that story, then work hard again to self-market it to the target reading audience.

  120. Chris says:

    Well said!

    I fell into self publishing some of my older short stories while waiting for responses from traditional publishers.

    I agree with gregorylambpdx above, If the product is poor, only a few copies will find life and no real harm will be done ( other than the fact that we drive the prices down somewhat? )

    Chris

  121. JPF Goodman says:

    There's a lot of sense in what you say here. Interacting on line is good, but I'm easily overwhelmed by the numbers, and distracted and disheartened by the good postings of others! Now I must read your two stories and see which I like the best. That will take longer than it should, but once I have I'll get back to you!

  122. caljacobs says:

    Amen to that, homes.

  123. sued51 says:

    Great post, Cristian. I know for myself, I seem to be absolute clueless when it comes to my own writing what's good and what's not. Makes it impossible for me to send poems out to be published; it feels as random as the lottery.

  124. psampson2888 says:

    Writing is such a valuable tool. It has helped me through the rough patches in my life and has given me direction. No one can take that away. I also believe no one has the right to say what's good or not, if I believe it to be worthy of publishing than why can't I do it by myself. That is our right as people and I refuse to let anyone tell me otherwise.

    Thank you for reading my stuff though, much appreciated!

  125. Excellent post!

    As a self published author, I can vouch for its virtues: control of content, covers, editing: in fact, what makes it uniquely ours. (My husband edits, and designs covers.) The problem seems to be a perception that self published works are simply second class. Patently, this is not necessarily correct, and as you so rightly pointed out, the ultimate judge of merit is the reader.

  126. What a well written piece and so spot on. I am an avid reader and love my Kindle. I have found many authors whose books I have enjoyed who self published.

  127. CozyAum says:

    I self publish & its out of pure laziness. For me, writing is the joy, the rest of the process (publicity etc) I just can't be bothered with

  128. I enjoyed reading your post but i agree more with the last comment cutting out the middle man and letting readership decide if your writing is worthy.

  129. illero says:

    Like others, I have found many really good books that appear to have been self-published as e-books (I'm not certain of this, since I've bought them through Amazon). My biggest gripe about them, though, is that they tend to have a lot of grammatical and typographical errors in them. It irks me when I find a traditionally-published book with even a couple of such errors — now I get to grind my teeth every four or five pages.

  130. You make many good points, thanks for sharing them. I have had many of the same ideas and come to these conclusions.

    1. Conventional publishing is for blockbusters, companies have to make money and need to sell lots of copies to keep their machine running. That's the world of editors, publishing houses etc.

    2. The birth of self publishing is only new because of the tools used. In another time self-publishing was called pamphleteering and many important things got published as self paid pamphlets. For instance, many of the seminal documents leading up to the Declaration of Independence in the US, were self published.

    3. At the end of the day, it's about the size of the audience. We've gotten good at micro targeting and social media makes this even easier. I've done two books as self-published volumes and don't regret any of it. My books aren't for wide circulation but the people who read them really want the information they offer.

    I don't believe in asking permission for my writing and a publisher is nothing but a permission granting bottleneck. I might not make much for my efforts, but they support other activities like consulting and speaking. Publishing has become my marketing plan and that's fine. I recently sold 200 copies of my book to one client who had a book signing at a corporate event. It was good for them and good for me. So call me lazy if you want, but I'm catering to a definite audience.

  131. ewgreenlee says:

    Great post! I am a fantasy author, but I am also a CPA and financial advisor. I wanted to protect my intellectual property rights, revenue streams, and control inventory. I am willing to take the financial and critical risks for my mythological creation. When completed I will have 19 total stories. I have a trilogy out now that is the basis for this mythology. After eleven years of writing, editing, and now self marketing, everyone owes it to themself to give self-publishing a chance. Times have changed and there are many not happy with this change, but I am loving it. Go for it!

    EW Greenlee – "The Chosen One of Allivar" trilogy.

  132. leesbj says:

    good post. I'm actually attending a (paid) seminar in a few weeks time for guidance on how to publish my much rejected book

  133. mikelopez says:

    Self publishers just found a new and faster way to publish their stuff. Not lazy at all.

  134. As a self publisher myself, I couldn't agree more. We work at least as hard as anyone else and possibly a lot harder!

  135. Awesome post! My son is self-published, and so will I be once I complete my first novel in progress. Self-publishers are not lazy, just smart. I know my son well, and there is nothing lazy about him. He works a full-time job (telecommuting from home), helps with a non-profit ministry, spends time with his family, and writes.

  136. Yaz says:

    You said it all…I've bitched the same bitch for a long time, but you said it best! Thanks!

  137. […] Are Self-Publishers Lazy?. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  138. steviegill says:

    When you cut out the middle man, the middle man usually gets riled! Cheaper and more accessible technology is giving people the means to publish their own literature, music and film, and the publishers are getting left behind. I think this can only be a good thing – they've had their own way for far too long.

  139. Norma Chang says:

    Well said.

    I am a self-published author and proud of my accomplishments. If I were lazy I would look for a publisher, but I like things done my way which a publishing house would never agree to.

  140. cafecasey says:

    "Power to the people!" You're right–music and publishing will never be the same. And that's not a bad thing, in my mind.

  141. shalam123 says:

    Being a self published author myself I have to agree with this post. You are absolutely accurate in your prediction and I for one am grateful for the option to self publish. Especially living in a small caribbean, third world island as I am where it is difficult to get any kind of marketing done. Keep up the great work!

  142. Hi Christian, As a blogger who is not creating content as a business, I also appreciate the freedom of the world of self-publishing. By the way, on the horizon is an author of a different sort – an author that is a computer algorithm. That will certainly be something for us flesh and blood writers to think of and watch closely. Who can tell how tech. will change the world of publishing yet again. Good thoughtful post today. Have a wonderful weekend.

  143. RDoug says:

    Lazy? Far from it. Disgusted, perhaps, but not lazy. Have been represented almost continuously since 1995 by two of the biggest names in the business, and neither could get a publisher to bite on any of my novels.

    That's not laziness. Nor is it a lack of talent (agents don't represent hacks on whom they cannot at some point sell). That is traditional New York publishing looking in the rear view mirror of the NEXT big thing, and then wondering why they missed wave.

  144. Beatrice Potter self-published Peter Rabbit.

  145. naomiwrites2 says:

    Very well said, RDoug…disgusted and frustrated…:-)

  146. Shawn Bird says:

    I think there is lots of room here. The trad folks will pick up some work by an author. Why shouldn't the same author take advantage of any publicity the machine generates, and self-pub other work? The nice thing is that the readers decide what they want to read. It's all about marketing. However, even some of the biggest names in award winning Canadian publishing told me, "We all sell our books hand to hand." We are selling all the time, because we're the brand. Whether we're signed by a big house, a small house, or publish ourselves, we still sell our books to our readers with individual contacts or recommendations.

  147. -Boy! I can relate to this blog..my husband has self-published three books and his fourth one will be out soon..he has worked hard on all these and gotten positive feedback! I am proud of him..but he wonders if with marketing help and an agent if he would sell more. He is working on his fifth and thinking of trying to find an agent and a publisher and going the traditional route.

  148. themofman says:

    I must say that I've long been quite annoyed with most book publishers. Money is hugeley important but it really clouds judgement moste severely. I'm pig sick of incredible, virtually unknown authors being constantly overlooked by well established snide publishers who are too ready publish arrant rubbish by some celebrity who barely knows what he or she is writing about. This harsh reality of unfairness has disuaded me from merely trying to get anything published.

    I admire creative people who can find a backdoor to bypass the elitist. This includes those who find alternative means to publish books that deserve to be read. Quite simply, it gives me hope.

  149. I love it when someone else says/writes about exactly what I've said/written about/thought!

  150. epbeaumont says:

    All right, a small essay, which I'll likely republish on my own blog. Thank you for inspiring it.

    Of all the things to call self-publishers, "lazy" is the last word to come to mind. Self-publishing means taking on the entire workflow of a book, from inception to production to marketing. I think that many of the people in publishing who say this are either seriously disingenuous or know only their part of the process.

    I am old enough to have learned the term "self-publishing" not in English but in Russian: anyone remember samizdat? Copy out a favorite forbidden novel using a typewriter, pass the copy on. Not only labor-intensive, but risked a serious prison term. Needless to say, put me off any complaints about problems of distribution.

    I remember the moment I heard about this, in comfortable America at the age of 14. It fired my imagination, as did the last echo-shock of the 1960s in the form of so-called underground newspapers, whose direct descendants include both neighborhood political newsletters and political magazines such as In These Times and Mother Jones. I've been involved with Amateur Press Associations (APAs) as well as zines, both forerunners of the blog and its children; I heard the same noise about both of those forms. It didn't help, of course, that they were associated with grubby matters such as science-fiction fandom, progressive politics, or independent music.

    This last hundred years (a relative eye-blink historically) have been the anomaly. Throughout history people have "self-published," i.e. taken the manuscript to the printer! (Galileo, Voltaire, Rousseau, I'm looking at you.) Sometimes intermediaries were involved, and sometimes not; sometimes both author and printer produced pseudonymously, for reasons of safety.

    My role models in "lazy self-publishing" include the following historically notable slackers:

    Virginia and Leonard Woolf, founders of Hogarth Press. She was a novelist whose revision process typically included 10-15 major drafts; he was a journalist. They did all the work themselves in the beginning, including hauling the equipment (iron presses) into place.

    Alexander Herzen, founder of the Bell (political newspaper) and the Polar Star (magazine). In exile in London, he founded the first Russian press that did not answer to the czar's censorship, promoted investigative journalism by printing reports of corruption and abuse from correspondents in Russia (anticipating by a century both the work of Amnesty International and the news bureaus at their best).

    George Sand, novelist and independent journalist. When her publisher told her that her political and metaphysical novels weren't his idea of a "George Sand novel," she brought them out herself, serialized in an independent newspaper that she had founded to bring progressive ideas to her home province. (By the way, at least one of these novels is singled out for specific attention in the Vatican Index, which otherwise condemns her body of work en masse.)

    Walt Whitman and Henry Thoreau, two of America's most notable nineteenth-century writers. Whitman had been a journalist and publicist, and if he'd had a car would have been selling copies of Leaves of Grass out of the back of it. He wrote his own publicity materials and more than once ghost-wrote his own reviews. (Not an uncommon practice in nineteenth-century American journalism, I should add.) Henry Thoreau was less of a salesman, but never attempted to make a living from his work (he was already the heir to a minor industrial concern). I still remember his quip about getting his book printed, as a result of which he now possessed a library with hundreds of volumes, most of which he had written himself.

  151. asiapasek says:

    I absolutely support self-publishing of everything: books, movies, music etc. This is the best thing about internet – everybody who wants to create things, may show it to the whole world without begging for help! And the final reader/watcher/listener is the best judge anyway.

  152. bhdandme says:

    It's only a couple of generations ago that even well known and 'successful' writers were subsidizing their publishers, and many (as now) were dependent on other sources of income. There was also a tendency to publish for a quite narrow strand of friends and class 'colleagues', with only few breaking through to a wider public – in fact many did not want to be read by that wider public. The net has in some ways allowed/encouraged a return to this I think. I enjoyed your article, btw!

  153. kathrinjapan says:

    For a kid from Romania born after the 1980's you don't write too bad. ;)

  154. tonettejoyce says:

    Yes, Cristian's English is better than most people who live where I am serving my exile,(so to speak). But then, every Romanian I have met has been very smart. Where are you now, Cristian?

  155. This was great Cristian. Thanks for writing it. I feel better.

  156. ddwright says:

    I just self published a book of poetry called Poetry 2Life which will be available for purchase on October 17th. I have been writing poetry for over 20 years but in order to puruse my dream as a professional author, I had to borrow money from my pension to make it possible. In addition to that, I had to revise, edit, edit, wdit again & solely responsible for marketing. HEAVY price to pay yet when chasing dreams, you must sacrifice as I am sure you know. Traditionally I woukd never have had such an opportunity. I have been a teacher for 10 years so may not have appealed to traditional publishers in terms of poetry. Whether my book sells or not, whether it is reviewed by book critics or not, I feel successful. The success was me believing in myself enough to invest. The purpose to touch people, not become a millionaire. The title of your blog caught my eye. I found this post interesting. Self publishers work so hard that we need to pat each other on the back. I will buy your short story just because I am intrigued by writing, fictional or non fictional. Best of luck & many blessings to you ;-)

  157. Heather says:

    Yes agree Fifty Shades of Gray is GARBAGE! So is Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus! Complete crap. Yet they have marketing teams, spin doctors and Oprah to thank…

  158. I would say there is no doubt that a certain number of people who are self-publishing are thinking of it in terms of the latest "get rich quick" scheme. However I think these are easy to spot and far less in number than there are represented to be. I think for the most part the people who are self-publishing are honest and authentic and simply taking advantage of the new and wonderful opportunities the internet provides us. I love to read. I have wanted to write but was always discouraged by the thought of putting that much work into something that would never be seen. The first person that reads my book that I don't know will validate the work put into it.

  159. I say, why are people so upset because there is a new venue for sharing the written word? Not to mention a new way for writers to make a living.

  160. Looks like we're all in the same frame of mind….I have gone the route of looking for an agent (they won't talk to you unless you've been published. And looking for a publisher (they won't talk to you unless you have an agent….yikes!) The narrow, narrow door of those publishers who will talk to unagented authors is just that narrow.

    I find solice in knowing that John Grisham was rejected something like 37 times (I've got that beat) and then self-published A Time to Kill, got some good press and the rest as they say is history.

    I wrote three books over the past 10 years. Last month I published all three under my pen name Joanna Carroll. I've sold a dozen or so (besides mom, dad and the rest of the family) and feel awesome! And thankfully didn't have to put out much $$$.

    So, if you like murder mysteries….let me know what you think. Are self-publishers lazy? No, I think we are all very dedicated to our craft.Thanks for opening this up for discussion.

  161. davidbiddle says:

    Nice job with this Christian. I think the first blood drawn in everything is that pulp fiction (whether sci-fi, romance, erotica, fantasy, thriller, mystery, etc.) is all about readers who just want to consume story. They don't care that much about who wrote it. 2.99 vs. 12.99 says a helluvalot about who will win in that war. Going up the chain is another ball game. We haven't really started to see that one at work in the indie author world yet. Whether you're talking about writers who can compete with Stephen King, Clive Cussler, PD James, John le Carre, Jennifer Wiener, Tom Clancy, Mary Higgins Clark, Jodi Picoult, etc.

    Or how about versions of Joyce Carol Oates, James Elroy, Richard Russo, Russel Banks, Pat Conroy, Anne Beatty and so on?

    And then go up the ladder higher — when will we see an indie Toni Morrison, Anthony Doerr, Jennifer Egan, Don DeLillo, Rick Bass, Ian McEwan, Annie Dillard, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, Julian Barnes, Alice Walker, etc?

    And for that matter, what of the world's next Kurt Vonnegut, Dorothy Sayers, Truman Capote, Ray Bradbury, JD Salinger, Ursula K. Le Guin, or Agatha Christie?

    We do need to be careful in how we think here. Publishers didn't just push books on us, they pushed literature and great writing and profoundly amazing popular authors that shaped culture in so many different ways…

  162. […] gadget into one of the world’s most important inventions. And, of course, they act accordingly.*” Speak for yourself, shout the hordes of internet-addicted, procrastinating self-publishers. […]

  163. charlieray45 says:

    Anyone who thinks self-publishers are lazy should spend a month (or even a week) in my shoes. I have to take care of everything in order to sell a few copies, and believe me, it's hard work.

  164. SjSchafer says:

    I don't have the money to go the traditional route. I am self publishing because of that. And I am independent, too ;0))

  165. LeTalib says:

    thanks for sharing this useful post christian

  166. My husband had three golf books published by major publishers and still had to market them basically on his own. When someone asks me why I didn't go the "acceptable" route of query, agent, publisher, etc.to publish my novels, I tell them I tried, but it's an expensive, lengthy, discouraging process filled with lottery-like chances of ever being accepted. Believing in and loving my characters is the one thing that kept me going.

    I write for the pure joy of it and bringing imaginary, realistic characters to life! If someone finds my novel and wants to come along, I enjoy the company! Thanks Christian for providing a forum for truth.

  167. meridabill says:

    Gutsy truthful stuff, el hombre joven. I've restarted my life a few times and I've re-written books more than a few. There comes a time when you know you've written your truth and when you do it's time to stop. Let the reader decide if your truth is their truth. Most of us don't write for money we write for love. When you do it for love you can say F U to a world that questions why you didn't do it for some other reason like money or success. Good stuff, Mihai.

  168. thewolfstreasure says:

    I was eager to read this post because the title its self caught my attention. I spent 3+ years trying to find a publisher. When I finally did, the whole thing blew up in my face. At that point, I finally decided to turn to self-publishing, something that I had been told was horrible for many, many years. When I finally went digging around, I realized that self-publishing was an author's beautiful dream! Vanity publishing… now that's a different story. I think many people get the two confused.

    I was nodding throughout your entire post, agreeing with you every step of the way. No one can really predict if a book will become legendary or not. It's something you have to put faith into. I don't believe that publishers really look for the diamond in the rough. They look for what they think will sell the best. I understand that it's a large market and many people blame self-publishing for the millions of bad books out there. However, you're absolutely correct. Many traditional publishers have plenty of crappy books to show for! I believe that it doesn't matter the size of the market, a good book will shine on its own. You don't need a big publisher's name. Besides, I'd rather people know my book for MY name.

    Thank you for this post, it was heartwarming. Honestly.

    ~Shelby

  169. alyossr111 says:

    "To be honest, I think publishing houses are headed for a slow death. And it’s not self-publishing who’s the threat. It’s the fact that the world is going full digital. Bookstores are slowly becoming an excuse for nostalgia. E-books are outselling paperbacks, more and more writers are going direct, choosing to ask readers whether their books are worth the trouble or not."

    Totally agree with you young writer..

    • sarwah2012 says:

      Self publishing is one of the hardest jobs in the world.Also, unless I am mistaken the reason for going down this route like alot of authors is simply because we have been rejected from the traditional route..How many famous writers now, were not rejected at first .Nearly all of them. They make the struggle route too hard.Then ask the question – how much are you willing to invest in your book. Sorry but howy writers have that sort of money.It is tough and cruel and not sure how E James did it with 50 shades of Grey. But there are mote writers thrn cases of such success.

  170. grafixp2012 says:

    Self-publishers are not lazy. It's as simple as that. I'm new to all of this and I don't think I've worked this hard in years. I am semi-retired and I work three days a week at a bookshop (we are in the middle of closing down) but my four days a week off are far from relaxing. They are enjoyable though. The whole marketing/promotion aspect is time-consuming but fun. Just keeping on top of comments from the blog and facebook pages takes time but it's time well spent. As for digital vs real books…there will always be 'real' books as there will always be 'real' records. Vinyl has never truly passed on and is, in fact, making a comeback.

    As a first-time author I was delighted to see my book on Amazon/Kindle but it didn't feel real. That feeling came when I held the first hardcover in my hand…and when I sold and signed that first copy. I don't have rose-colored glasses (I did in the sixties though, real ones!) and I know I'm not going to get rich off my book but that's not what it's about for me. Indirectly, through the characters, I've stated my case…my thoughts, ideals, and philosophies…and they will be around long after I'm gone.

    Great post Cristian!!!

  171. laurenjweaver says:

    I love this post! I was always under the impression that self publishers actually work harder than others because they take the reigns of all aspects of getting their stories out there. From marketing to writing to editing and, if you're a "part-time" designer (as I try to be), even book cover design. None of these are small feats, and if an author can self publish and find success doing it, they've certainly earned it.

    Not to say that putting up with rejections for so long before finally landing a publishing contract isn't fulfilling or means you haven't worked at all. But on the whole, self publishing definitely couldn't be labeled as lazy.

  172. drewmcgee says:

    Very interesting read. Adapt or fade away!

  173. I agree with a lot of your points. Literary agents and publishing houses are about to go the way of the cassette tape, cathode ray TV and transistor radio. The way self-publishing is blossoming, and the way most books today are purchased online, they just won't be necessary.

    Not that I mind. Like a lot of people have posted here, I've received my share of rejection letters from agents. Some don't even bother to reply. One sent me exactly two words, "I'll pass." No matter how good a writer you are, my sense is that they don't want to take a chance on a noob. They only want proven writers who are guaranteed to make them rich.

    I love self-publishing as it places the destiny of my book in my hands, and as you've pointed out, into the hands of the reader. Also as you've mentioned, it means a lot of bad books are getting self-published. A lot. But as you noted, that's where the reader is the ultimate critic.

    I say cut out the middle man. God love Amazon and Smashwords!

  174. That's telling 'em, sir– well said! Write on, wishing you much success! : )

  175. annajroberts says:

    "The matter of fact is that no one knows anything about these sort of things. The literary world is just a misty unknown. Publishers don’t know why a book doesn’t sell, they don’t know why a book sells, and most certainly they don’t know what’s going to sell."

    As William Goldman once said "Nobody knows anything." He was talking about Hollywood screenplays but he may as well have been talking about the publishing business. You're absolutely right – it's largely a business of throwing mud at a wall and hoping some of it sticks. Obviously if there's something suitably 'sticky' doing the rounds at the moment then they make more similarly adhesive things (There are a terrifying amount of Fifty Shadesesque books out there at the moment.) and mid-list authors get told that that is what's selling so could you write that please?

    This leads to some very boring bookshelves.

    I self-published because it appealed to my control freak instincts. I've done the whole traditional publishing thing and these days, unless you are a six-figure-advance author you're pretty much going to have to do all your own promotion anyway, so you may as go full on Do-It-Yourself and self-publish. Took me a while to get my head around the idea, I must say – it involved forgetting everything I had learned about publishing while growing up, but it's really liberating to be able to concentrate on the stories that I want to tell. I don't have to worry about trying to catch the next marketing trend, don't have to listen to editors tell me what's hot and what's not – I can just write, which is what I wanted to do in the first place!

  176. seule771 says:

    Hi,

    I am a self-published (fake author) no readership or existence. I am not real and I am lazy in that I don't try; I have stopped and given up since folks treat you only as you are to relate to your own ethnic makeup. To sell it must be to your own kind and if they don't choose to see you; than the real world will never see you either.

    Currently I have an Ebook with (selfselfself.com) publishing and it has not earned a dime. No bearing, other than I am broke and miserable.

    "Ben Ottridge" for contacting them if you wish.

    Thank you for this site and good luck.

  177. davidbiddle says:

    I think this deserves best comment in this string. No offense to others, but it really hits the nail on the head. "No one knows anything." is a good motto for all artists. I use profanity in my version, but it still means my work has meaning…

  178. hakesplace says:

    I read this post once before and found that it gets to the gist with the problem within the publishing world. Publishers know nothing about literature, creative writing, grammar, editing and the like. Why do I say this? As an educator using well-known publishers’ textbooks, I realized how many problems existed–too many to list here. I will mention one thing about editions–each time we received a new edition of a textbook, which was about every semester, I noticed that there was 1% change and 99% shuffle. What does this mean? It means that publishers only shuffled the chapters around, adding a new image here and there to make it look as though it was in actuality a new edition. Students pay about 30% more for the new edition that is anything but. This is where my expertise and experience with the publishing world exists. Authors/writers need to realize that the publishing world is set up to make money–lots of it. In short, kudos to all you “self-publishers”! The same thing goes for self-marketers–don’t be ashamed. At first, yes, it appears as though we “whore” ourselves. We are but learning how to promote our skills, our crafts within a system set up long ago that caters to those who meet “certain criteria”–whatever that may be. I too was a marketing director for a major pharmaceutical company at one time–assistant to the vice president. Same process as publishers–a world set up to make money. What counts most is not that the individual artist, author, or whoever is skilled, talented or gifted–no. What counts most is that the individual plays the game as instructed. Most of the time, the winners are losers and the losers are winners. Does this make sense?
    Great post.

  179. marsha4852 says:

    I just purchased two of your kindle books. The one that is selling well and the one you think is a better story. I don't have kindle, but I have a reader on my PC.

    One thing about this topic on self-publishing is that any author that plans on going that route should make sure their story is edited the best it can be as some self-publishing companies, maybe all (I don't know) don't edit the material for you. You want your story to shine.

    I purchased a book a few years ago and it was riddled with mistakes, from grammar and punctuation to plot. Worse book I ever read.

  180. Renato says:

    Reblogged this on Renato Vasconcellos David and commented:
    Completely Honest and Blunt post, Love it!

  181. darryl3027 says:

    The main reason that I decided to self publish was cost. A lot of agents want hard copy manuscripts and do not accept email manuscripts. On average it was costing me $11.00 per manuscript to fed ex a packet. Every article that I read on the subject said that I should send at least a dozen at a time to different agents.
    Well after about a year the cost became a burden. I narrowed my field by only submitting to agents or publishers that accepted email submissions which is a different style of formatting but I did it.

    The other reason was the fact that the preponderance of agents wanted paranormal romance and young adult paranormal romance, yuck! Then you get the, we are no longer accepting submissions from unpublished authors.treatment. I don’t mind that I would have to self edit but isn’t it the job of editors and proof readers to do that. I can’t afford to pay for editors. If i have to pay them for anything then why do I need them. Publishers and agents are the ones that are lazy not the poor struggling author. They want a best seller handed to them without doing any work except making a profit off of someone else toil.

    I E Published on iBooks Publisher and have it on sale in iTunes books It’s called G.E.B.O. there is a preview up as well. Just saying! Have a look I won’t mind.

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