Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Self - Publishing versus Traditional Publishing
Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing few books that were self published by the authors. Reading the books changed my perception of self publishing. My initial view was that books that were turned down by publishers were self published by the authors who were unable to wait for the long time it took to encounter a publisher willing to invest time, money and energy on them.
I was also under the impression that self published books would not be of a good quality, both in the literary sense : plot, character, grammar, and story line and that the quality of the books: paper, printing and book covers would not be good. The books I reviewed were of a superior quality in each and every way. As a reviewer, I did find few mistakes in the plot structure of one book and felt that the author had been in a hurry to end it, and the length of the other book was too long. Perhaps as writers we tend to get too harsh and critical, not just of other writer’s books, but also of our own.
I did wonder why editors of publishing houses had turned them down. The books were good. With a little bit of rewriting and editing the books would have been great. I indulged in a bit of pop analysis to uncover the reason why both the books missed the traditional publishing bus.
One thing I realized is that it’s next to impossible for publishers to publish every book that lands at their doorstep. Many times they have to turn down books that they like, because they feel there will be no market for such books, or they have done similar books earlier, or the book is ahead of its time. In such scenarios the authors have no other option but to self-publish.
I am not sure if I am right in my suggestions. But here they are. I feel the first and foremost thing someone taking the self published route should invest in is few critique partners who can catch the initial knots in the story and help shape it up with critical and valuable feedback.
After the final rewrite the author opting for the self published route should invest in a professional edit. A professional editor will catch all the mistakes that crop up in the plot structure which the editor of a traditional publishing house would normally have done.. He or she can spot the weak links in the story and pay detailed attention to character growth and help tighten the plot. The editor will also take care of grammar, punctuation and tense.
This is just my amateur analysis, I am no expert. I now have only admiration for self published authors who choose to take the difficult route to publishing. These authors have so much faith in their stories that they are willing to shoulder the burden of editing, publishing and marketing onto their own shoulders. What about you all? What do you think of self publishing? Any advice you would give to authors seeking that route? Would you opt for it? Please share your views and feelings on self publishing.