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If you self-publish your book are you a published author?

I read an interesting blog post today that states "First and foremost, a self-published novel does not a published author make." I find that statement most disturbing. It goes on to talk about the expectations of the author. If one just wants to put their novel out for a few friends then it is okay to use a vanity press. But you won't ever sell a "zillion" books. She also points out that if you self-publish you receive no editorial advice. So what! The act of being published has nothing to do with editorial advice. However, let's look at this for a minute.

I don't like the term self-publish because it causes so much confusion. I prefer the term indie-publish. Now, let's look at some basic definitions:

publish - to issue (printed or otherwise reproduced textual or graphic material, computer software, etc.) for sale or distribution to the public.

- by one's own effort

independent - Not determined or influenced by someone or something else; not contingent

Being published means preparing to issue a work (book) for sale or distribution to the public.

Being self-published is using your own efforts to prepare a book to issue for sale or distribution to the public.

Therefore publishing ones own book for sale or distribution does a published author make. It has nothing to do with editorial advice. It has everything to with putting a product out to the market. A prudent author would procure some editorial advice prior to taking his/her book to print. There have been several authors who got their start by taking control of their writing careers and self-published their own books. Some of these authors later signed traditional publishing deals.

I know I have some strong opinions and feelings on this matter but I would love to hear your opinions regarding this topic. I believe that an author writes for an audience and should use whatever publishing method works best to get his/her work to that audience. I completely support those who take control of their writing career and self/indie-publish.

How do you feel about self-publishing? What are your perceptions of those who do publish their own books?

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Comment by pen_duelr on January 2, 2010 at 1:12pm
If a writer is looking for validation they won't find outside themselves. Besides what does it matter how a product is put on the market? The only thing that matters is that it is good enough to find an audience, better yet a paying and appreciative consumer. Look no farther than the creators of the highly successful film "Paranormal" for inspiration, who financed this film themselves. Now I am sure they have agents and big time producers falling over themselves. Where were they before? So also it could be for writers who decide to stop waiting for the biased opinions of a bunch of outsiders (who probably have their own agendas) for personal validation and what amounts to are scraps from the table. I for one have more respect for myself, for my craft and the hard effort it has taken me to get this far. And the truth that they don't want us to know is this is...those days are over.
Comment by Bill Walker on November 8, 2008 at 1:54pm
Thanks for your comment. I agree that in many ways it is a matter of ego. I am writing a couple of books which I intend to indie publish. My ego is definitely involved. I want to be in control of the process. I want to choose my own editor. I also want the financial reward for success and I'm willing to take responsibility for failure.

I forgot to add at the beginning of my post that I wasn't talking about the quality of self-published books or whether or not a person could be financially successful.

I have myself seen several books that are self-published that are not professionally done and quite honestly I haven't been able to finish reading. These types of books would never be touched by a traditional publisher. In the end, for me it is all about the intent of the author. I support anyone who wants to "publish" a book. The market will decide if it will sell.
Comment by Gene Alvin aka "Aelf" on November 8, 2008 at 6:40am
I've always had the opinion that self publishing is, in many ways, a matter of ego. I realize that a few have actually made it big by doing so, there's nothing like hard work and talent. However, most self published books that I've come across are not done professioanly, contain huge errors and, for the most part, don't follow any particular known formats for novels. When I started to write, self publishing was one of the first things I thought about. Now, having been at it for years, I'm really thankful that I didn't put out any of the amateur trash (seemed like gems at the time) that I wrote. It was a learning curve, a long and arduous one that continues to this day. Of course the other side of the coin is that if the writer is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a winner and publishers won't touch it, then by all means, self publish. Their book sales will confirm or deny their belief. I could be, and probably am, all wet when it comes to this subject but this is my perception of self published works...Aelf

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