Saturday, January 30, 2010

Self-publishing symposium: Greg Banks

How does self-publishing differ from traditional publishing?

Self-publishing's biggest difference, from the author's standpoint, is that the entire burden of producing a quality end-products rests on the author's shoulders, as does getting the book into the marketplace and promoting it once it's there. Yes, there are services (in particular, Print-on-Demand services) like Lulu.com and CreateSpace that can help you with many of those things, but still the burden lies on the author to make good choices and, in the end, it's still up to the author to spend the time and effort required to market the book. This can be a daunting task, but for those prepared to take it on, also a very liberating one.

Do self-published book review blogs help to raise the reader awareness of self-published books?

They can, and many do. However many of these blogs are short-lived endeavors with small readerships, in essence themselves self-published. The impact they make on reader awareness is subjective, and varies from one blog to the next. I generally try to research the places I submit to for reviews, be they blogs, ezines, etc. A savvy author must learn to look for those review sites that are best suited, and most useful to, spreading the word and promoting your particular book.

How do you respond to the following statement?--Self-publishing is not a serious way to get one's work into print now and never will be.

I strongly disagree with this statement. Firstly, with the growing market for ebooks, print is slowly becoming a less significant marketplace. Secondly, while of course it is harder to get a book out into the marketplace when one self publishes, it is not only possible, but has been done. If one is strictly talking about getting the book "in print" (sales and distribution aside), then with the advent of Print-on-Demand Publishing, getting one's book into print is extremely easy. The critics of self-publishing might even say it's become too easy, in fact, since the quality of the writing doesn't always hold up to the quality of the book itself.

Has the golden age of self-publishing already passed or is it yet to come?

The "golden age," in my view, is when self-published authors are able to compete on equal footing with the mainstream publishing houses, and are therefore empowered with full control over their books and a greater profit margin on each book sold. And that time isn't in the past, it's happening right now.

What about the challenges posed to the self-published writer by having to promote and edit his or her own book?

It's a challenge to be sure, which is why anyone considering self-publishing needs to understand what they are getting themselves into before committing to it. I find that a lot of authors self publish first, and then learn how different it is from traditional publishing too late. But neither problems of promotion or editing are insurmountable, and one can (and probably should, if at all possible), get help with those things, particularly editing. I think the most important things are that: a) You must take those two elements of self-publishing seriously and be prepared to tackle them head on, whether you do it yourself or seek help; and b) If you are not prepared to take on these challenges, then you should seriously reconsider self publishing. As high as I am on self-publishing, I've also learned that everyone isn't suited for it.

Why is it that a self-published author has yet to emerge into national recognition as a self-published author? (As opposed to being given a mainstream publishing contract after a self-published book attracts attention.)

It depends on how you consider that question. I do know that I have seen self-published authors featured on nationally broadcast programs in the past. But unfortunately, to achieve real success requires two things that most self-published authors don't have: Large promotional budgets and access to prominent media sources like The New York Times Review and Publisher's Weekly. The only difference between self-published authors and the 10s of thousands of people who try out for American Idol is that there is no such show for authors that can suddenly put you into the National spotlight. But it has to also be pointed out that acquiring an agent and/or traditional publisher and then achieving national recognition is also a monumental task.

Has the experience of self-publishing changed the way you write? (If you have self-published.)

I don't know if it's changed the way I write, but as a writer who enjoys writing short stories, I am much more free to publish collections of my work, which, as I understand it, is harder to get accepted by a traditional publisher unless you are already and established "name" in the industry. I would hope that if self-publishing had any effect on how one writes, it would be to work even harder to produce a quality product, since we self published authors do still have to work for greater acceptance in the marketplace. Fortunately, the advent of devices like the Kindle and how it's further empowered authors to get their works in the hands of readers, is providing authors with a growing level of success and acceptance among readers.

- Greg Banks, BDDesign LLC - The Self Published Author's Best Friend
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* BDDesign Online - www.bddesignonline.com
* Cover Designs Online - www.coverdesignsonline.com
* BDDesign Art Gallery - http://bddesign.imagekind.com
* BDD Tees - http://www.cafepress.com/BDDtees

5 comments:

Michael said...

>>What about the challenges posed to the self-published writer by having to promote and edit his or her own book?<<

A self-published writer who does not hire a professional editor is unprofessional, unrealistic and probably doomed to publish garbage that will get bad reviews and have few sales.

Michael N. Marcus
-- president of the Independent Self-Publishers Alliance, http://www.independentselfpublishers.org
-- author of "Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don’t be a Victim of a Vanity Press," http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661742
-- author of "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)," coming 4/1/10. http://www.silversandsbooks.com/storiesbookinfo.html
-- http://BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
-- http://www.SilverSandsBooks.com

John said...

I completely agree with you Michael.

Just because you are given a way to publish your words, doesn't mean you should. The art of being an author is no longer respected. Any Joe/Jane can now claim to be one.

Bonnie Kozek said...

Michael,

The challenges of self-publishing are daunting indeed. I agree, a professional editor is essential. Yet, hiring an editor certainly is no guarantee of good reviews or sales. Ditto for public relations and/or marketing. Timing and good fortune play a mysterious role in a writer's success. But ultimately, it is and will always be about the writing.

Bonnie Kozek said...

John,

Writers write. Eventually I think those who claim to be "authors" solely because they have published a book will fall by the wayside. It will be the writers who are left standing. At that point, the question of a writer's legitimacy will be the same as it is now: Does the writer produce good work. And on this question there will always be disagreement.

Michael Mulvihill said...

I think Indie and self published authors are experiencing a revolution.
There have been many success stories from people published in this form. Some people are making an income or a living from this. Others are achieving international success.
The short story has been revived because of ebooks.
So times have never been so good for self published and indie authors. Its actually time to be happy.
But...caution....do self promote...do professionally edit your manuscript and work hard. I wrote Siberian Hellhole you can get it on Amazon. There, this is an example of an indie author self promoting. Bye for now.