Self-publishing authors modernize, not mar


Nicole Schroeder

Today’s society is built upon the idea of independence. From the encouragement to reimagine or innovate one’s way to success to smartphones that provide constant connectivity to the Internet, the modern world has reinvented the idea of self-reliance into not only a character trait, but a necessity.
Such is the case for many new authors, who have been turning to self-publishing as a means to get their name and work in ink and on shelves in less time and for considerably less work. In fact, according to, 31 percent of all Amazon Kindle ebook sales in 2014 were from self-published authors.
Yet, from traditional publishers and practiced authors alike, the idea of self-publishing is frequently met with disapproval or discouragement. Even Neal Pollack, a New York Times journalist who wrote an article in support of self-publishing, said he wouldn’t recommend self-publishing for a first time author, as “a self-published book [by a new author] is almost certainly going to end up on the digital slush pile, with fewer readers than the average blog post.”
Most of these arguments stem from the idea that publishing away from a major company may reduce the author’s reliability. By not having the work hand-selected by an agent or editor as marketable, the author is somehow less likely to write coherently or to create a decent plotline. Instead, most opposers believe the majority of self-publishers are producing bare-bones manuscripts that have barely been shaped into a first draft.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. For those authors that truly care about releasing their work to the public and marketing it for a profit, the amount of time and effort put into their writing makes it far from the skeleton that many seem to expect from Indie writers. Not only that, but the self-publishing world arguably demands more of writers than any traditional publisher, requiring them to become their own editors, marketers and agents, among other things. Such dedication, while not always present in self-published authors, is present in a vast majority of those in the business, making the poorly-formed novels that some may expect surprisingly rare.
Still another argument against self-publishing lies in the aversion some larger publishing houses have against those who have self-published works in the past. While this may be true, such a practice is disheartening and altogether immoral. According to a 2013 interview by Writer’s Digest, one literary agent estimates taking interest in only about 10 percent of the queries, or requests for the representation of an author’s manuscript, she receives. With many publishing companies refusing to even consider work that is unagented or unsolicited, it becomes impractical to ask new professional writers to find their footing in a system already catering to well-known names and cliché stories that aren’t as risky to sell.
Of course, this isn’t to say that self-publishing doesn’t have its drawbacks. Many ebook companies that allow authors to market their manuscripts directly make it difficult to weed out “writers” who are looking for a bit of extra cash or who don’t keep their readers in mind. Prices can be set at a maximum value far lower than the average prices of most competing ebooks and the lack of a professional marketer can cause many self-published books to be lost among the countless other books for sale on sites like the Amazon Kindle bookstore or Barnes & Noble’s online bookstore.
Still, when authors as admired as J.K. Rowling and Stephen King experienced countless rejections over their own — Rowling boasting 60 rejections by 12 different publishing houses before the first novel of her Harry Potter series was accepted — it seems logical for authors to have the option of self-publishing their work without receiving backlash from the rest of the writing community for their decision.
Like any other artist, the greatest joy most authors find comes from sharing their work with others. Self-publishing, while at times less distinguished, can provide a wonderful opportunity for Indie writers to test the waters of the publishing community and begin creating a base of readers. It is only right that such a decision by these artists be celebrated and not chastised by anyone in the community, from the writers who started in much the same way to the readers who may one day launch these wordsmiths into their future careers.