The concept of self-publishing has changed dramatically over the past 40 years; I should know, because I have been involved in publishing in one form or another for that long. My first two books were traditionally published by a NY house, meaning my agent sent them the first manuscript, they read it, they liked it and they decided to take a chance on an unknown and publish it. I even got a small advance on it. When they saw my second book, they snapped that one up, too, and both books had several runs over the ensuing few years. When the publishers decided the books had run their course, they took them out of print and reassigned all rights to me to do as I wished. Well, what I wished was to keep the books viable--but how?
Enter self-publishing. Yes, there was a time when self-published meant your old weird uncle wrote down his ideas about UFOs and how they came from the center of the (hollow) earth to monitor our burgeoning nuclear capabilities, books that no traditional publisher (at that time) would touch. Back then, many of those books probably had bad spelling, bad punctuation and a dicey plot line.
In the intervening years, self-publishing has become the method of choice for many, but not because they write like your uncle. The truth is, traditional publishing has gotten very conservative, and the big houses will very seldom, if ever, take a chance on an unknown. If they're not convinced the book will be a best-seller (and who can predict that?), they will likely pass. Luckily, self-publishing has become not only an option but even a preferred method. Why self-publish? There are many reasons, but I'll tell you why I do it: (1) Total control--I control everything about my book: the title, the cover, the editing, the way it's packaged and the way it's marketed. I don't have to worry about my book fitting into the latest trend, and I don't have to worry about a page count. I write what I want to write (and read), and don't have to worry about getting approval from anyone. (2) Time--it's a fact that traditional publishers move slowly. I'd always heard that publishing was like mating elephants: It's done at a high level; it's accomplished with a great deal of roaring and screaming; and it takes two years to produce results. With self-publishing, I can release a book almost instantly, as soon as it's edited and done. Additionally, if I need to make changes, if I find one of those horrid little typos, I can fix it and upload a new version immediately. No traditional publisher has that kind of response time. (3) Royalties--it's not my goal to become a zillionaire, but neither is it my goal to be a starving artist. With self-publishing, I set the retail price for my books based on the production cost, and while I keep the price low so I'm not gouging my readers, I still make more than I ever did with traditional publishing.
All that being said, some people still regard self-publishing negatively, which is why I was very pleasantly surprised to see that some bloggers/book reviewers had banded together to create Self-Published Authors Appreciation Week. Bloggers and book reviewers are worth their weight in gold. Most of them read a crazy number of books, they have a very good idea of what makes an enjoyable read, and they share their insight with anyone willing to follow them. I was humbled and grateful to find my name on their list of worthwhile authors. Now you, dear readers, can read a long list of reviews of my books and decide if they're your cup of tea, plus I have a feeling you just might find some authors new to you that also fit the bill. I hope you'll check out all the posts during Self-Published Authors Appreciation Week, and I send out a hearty thanks to those bloggers that participated.