Why self publish
Short answer: Because you don’t sell your soul.
Let’s take a look at the process of using a publishing house once you've written a book:
- Find as many publishers as you can that could potentially be interested in your book.
- Make a letter personalized to each and every publisher explaining why they would like your book.
- Pray one of them finds it worthy.
- Edit or accept editing on their part. Warning: this may include changing the story.
We’re not in the seventeenth century anymore. We have this thing called “the Internet.” Words don’t have to be printed on a book so people can read them. Prints don’t hold the monopoly on distribution anymore. Why should you submit your work to a higher power that judges if it’s worthy?
When publishers say “We want something fresh and new,” they really mean “We want generic plagio di plagio.” Just read any “publishing tips” post by writers with accepted manuscripts, by publishers or by literary agents. These requirements are commonplace:
- Your book must stick to the word-count industry standards.
- Your book must have a clear-cut genre.
- Your book must belong to one of the acceptable genres.
I’ve ordered them by terribility. First of all, having to stick to a specific word-count is the worst thing you can do to a novel. It’s one of the main causes why modern novels are 90% filler. A standard, 90k-100k word book has a modest amount of plot that could fit in 20k words. “Oh but that’s too short.” For a paperback that needs to be large enough to justify its 30$ cost for weak-minded buyers, sure it does. So the 20k word book is stuffed with descriptive prose, filler secondary plots and other wastes of time until… Tada! It’s a 90k word book!
At least publishers look for original books, right? Wrong. Publishers and agents usually have lists of genres they are “interested in.” So what if you’ve written something that doesn’t follow the typical structure of a romance/action/science-fiction/fantasy book? Agents and publishers will auto-reject if you are a nobody and try to sell it as something new. You will just end up lying and saying it belongs to a clear-cut genre so they are gracious enough to take a look.
This connects with the last point. If you are interested in publishing poetry, short stories or literary fiction, good luck. Poetry is dead, short stories don’t fill 90k words by definition, and publishers don’t want to know about your character’s “inner lives.” Publishers won’t read past the genre if they don’t like it. And this might not just be because the genre is dead. Maybe it doesn’t appeal to middle-aged black women enough. Maybe it’s too conservative (yes, publishing houses are liberal nests.) They have the power to reject books on any grounds, and keep it jealously. They will stir up a ruckus if a self-published book they rejected ends up nominated for a prize.
Professional publishing boils down to this: give up creative and economic control and a large portion of the revenue share for professional marketing and physical distribution. That’s it.
I don’t want to sell my books at a fixed price in retail stores. We’re in the twenty-first century; people’s time is worth more than their money. That a reader even chooses to spend time reading is already a payment. Forcing them to also give money is ridiculous, no matter how well-written or how much effort was put into the book.