Does self publishing still involve a stigma? It would be great if the answer were no but, in spite of the ever growing popularity of self publishing, it’s still a negative to many. A good friend of mine still seems pessimistic about self publishing even after publishing his own book. I helped him publish and it turned out quite good. He is very appreciative of my publishing help and the quality of his book. Still, he seems to view self publishing as a stigma.
At dinner recently, after complimenting my wife on her children’s book, which I published in 2007, he said she needed to find a traditional (real) publisher to market it successfully. I know he meant well but, as publisher of the book, it bothered a little. Since it was high praise for the book and a wonderful evening, I avoided starting a discussion about self publishing.
Obviously, my friend really believes a traditional publisher would do things with my wife’s book that we didn’t do, perhaps not realizing that traditional publishers do little marketing for books by unknown authors. After a few preliminary actions they turn it over to the author to market alone, unless he or she is famous.
I was learning when I published my wife’s book and we both learned fast and worked hard to get her book noticed, including sending out press releases, contacting media, and conducting book signings. Because my wife is a retired educator, we went even further and collaborated with a reading specialist to create a Teacher’s Guide which we made available for download to teachers at no cost. We followed that by contacting every school librarian in the state about the book and the Teacher’s Guide. We did manage to sell quite a few books but it wasn’t a big seller.
I don’t believe her book, “Lottie’s Adventure: A Kidnapping Unraveled,” suffered because it was self published. Perhaps a professional publicist could have done more with it since I was just starting out at the time and lacked first-hand experience, but another publisher was not the answer and still isn’t.
As long as even some who self publish view it negatively, self publishing will face a stigma. Nevertheless, if done professionally, self publishing can equal and even exceed traditional publishing and some, admittedly few, self publishers have already become millionaires and famous, in some cases receiving substantial offers from traditional publishers because of the fame. As I write this there are four Smashwords, self published ebooks on the New York Times Best Seller list. So, in spite of the stigma, it would seem that the most important thing about a book is still the quality. If it is informative or entertaining and well marketed, who published it isn’t important.