A non-evangelist self-publisher? What?

Why is it that stating I want to self-publish makes me a politically-charged topic for people who couldn’t possibly care about publishing in any form, traditional-, subsidy-, self-, or e-? I’m speaking primarily about readers, friends, co-workers, etc. I understand why fellow writers who prefer any format would want to–at the very least–discuss the matter.

I am a published author who wants to self-publish. You all know that, right? If you didn’t, you do now, and I welcome you to my blog.

Why would I want to self-publish? What’s the difference between self-publishing and subsidy/vanity publishing? Why would I want to bother publishing if I obviously can’t write well enough for traditional publishers?

That’s the one that I don’t understand. I mean, I do understand, because culturally speaking, we seem to assume that by following the big boys with their big editors, we’re weeding out the bad books. And that’s true, to an extent. But we’re also not taking chances on books that don’t cater to the masses.

There are pros and cons to the publishing situation, as there are to all situations. But my choosing to self-publish isn’t the political statement people assume I’m making. The fact is I’m an entrepreneur, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, and hey, if I’m going to write, and if I want to publish, why wouldn’t I learn as much as I can about this industry that I love so much, and try to do it my own way?

I’m not expecting to make bank with my books, no author does. Do you think JK Rowling knew she would be richer than the queen when she began writing on that train so long ago? Do you think Jane Austen knew she would have a cult following and a movie industry obsessed with adapting her stories when she asked convinced her brother to allow the local printer to take her seriously? The following authors self-published, and I’m happy to be considered one of their crowd.

  • Virginia Woolf
  • Walt Whitman
  • Christopher Paolini
  • Edward Tufte
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Mark Twain
  • Stephen King

“True self-publishing” according to Wikipedia, means…

Authors undertake the entire cost of publication themselves, and handle all marketing, distribution, storage, etc. All rights remain with the author, the completed books are the writer’s property, and the writer gets all the proceeds of sales. Self-publishing can be more cost-effective than vanity or subsidy publishing and can result in a much higher-quality product, because authors can put every aspect of the process out to bid rather than accepting a preset package of services

Or to put it simply, self-publishing is a labor of love. I don’t want to send my story through the ringer, have a stock cover slapped upon it, and have some random title that says nothing about the book. I’m not making a political statement, I just want to make a good experience for my reader. It’s not that I don’t trust editors, I plan on hiring a copy editor et al. to make sure I release a quality product. I want creative freedom. Is that a political statement? I don’t mean for it to be, and I hope I will never come off as an author who rails against the evils of traditional publishing.

So I’m a self-publishing author-in-progress who isn’t on the warpath, and isn’t trying to evangelize readers around the world. I just want to tell my story, and hope to touch some hearts. Does that make me crazy? Or is it simply that I’m playing pacifist in the middle of a war where it’s either choose sides or go down burning with the loser?

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