Having been a writer for most of my life, I have tried just about every method to get published. I planned on keeping my rejection letters, but the file got so thick that it threatened to take up the whole drawer. Stephen King kept his rejections on a nail in the wall, but I felt that would look too cluttered. I ended up throwing all mine away after realizing it was a bit morbid … and pointless.
Options were very limited in the 90’s if you couldn’t get commercially published. I researched vanity publishers, but they wanted ten grand and couldn’t promise sales. I tried literary agencies only to discover how crooked some of them can be. There are websites dedicated to warning new writers of them. Here is one such example.
I ended up using an independent publisher that took my manuscript and transformed it into a paperback novel. I would not recommend anyone use this route. Not only does it cost too much money, but it takes too much of the creative control out of your hands. You end up with a stranger’s version of your dream. I have issues with my first book for a variety of reasons, least of which how much it set me back. On top of that self-published authors are exclusively accountable for advertising their books. For someone on a budget advertising costs can be cost prohibitive.
Print on Demand (POD) publishing was new when I first used it. Lack of quality and high cost were two major disadvantages. Buying one book at a time made the retail cost as much as $20. Who wants to pay that much for a paperback book, let alone an inferior one? The commission for such a sale was only a few dollars as well, so not only would you be selling few books, you weren’t making any money from each sale.
Things have changed so much in just the last few years. POD publishers are getting more economical, and their quality has significantly increased. Some have wholesale rates that rival printing presses. One that I highly recommend is CreateSpace.com. Authors not only can economically keep a small inventory on hand, but their book will also be listed on the popular site Amazon.com.
With the current recession, many of the major publishing houses are releasing fewer books. This leaves the door open for more self-published books. Celebrities are also discovering self-publishing as a better way to retain creative control and a larger percentage of the profits. Wil Wheaton is one such celebrity author as seen in this Washington Times article. He tried commercial publishing to find it disappointing before switching to self-publishing.
Many people might still say that they would never read a self-published book, but they may be forced to either stop reading or give them a try. They need to realize that self-published does not equate trash anymore than commercially published guarantees gold. I doubt anyone truly knows what editors are looking for when they reject a perfectly good manuscript (or when they accept a horrid one for that matter). I know I have given up trying to figure it out. I have thrown an award-winning author’s book across the room and thoroughly enjoyed an unknown’s work. I doubt too many people know that John Grisham had to self publish his first book or that War and Peace was given an alternate title and author name but was rejected when submitted to a major publisher.
Times are changing, and we must change with them. Self-publishing is finally getting some of the respect it deserves. Look out Goliath, David is on the war path.