When you are an indie or self-published writer, you come across a strange phenomena. Should you tell people you are not traditionally published unless they ask?
For several decades, self-publishing was referred to as “vanity publishing.” Vanity publishing was when a writer would pay to have their books printed in limited runs, and they would then try to sell them. The vanity aspect comes from the stereotype that self-published authors were people who were not good enough to be published by a major publishing house or were hipsters who were too good for the publishing world and wanted only limited copies of their books.
Modern self-publishing is quite different. Self-published authors are not under contract with a publishing house, but now, this is mainly because they choose not to be. By self-publishing authors maintain all artistic control over their work from the cover, to the formatting of the book, to the content. There is no interference from editors or agents telling them what to write next or what to stay away from. Some writers do fit the stereotype and self-publish because they have been rejected repeatedly by the industry, but most authors choose it for the freedom and the profit margin, which is often better than what the major publishing houses are willing to give.
Sadly the stigma of self-publishing being an act of vanity still exists mainly because most people don’t realize how common self-publishing is with sites like Amazon, Lulu, or Lightning Source. After publishing The Earl of Brass, I have found myself holding back when someone mentions the publishing process. I’ll skate around it by nodding and saying that it was a lot of work and took a while to get ready. When I have mentioned it was self-published, people who were enthusiastic suddenly deflate, as if the book lost its worth because it wasn’t chosen by a major publisher to be printed. Because I am new to this phenomena, I am still unsure how to respond to it, but I think the best way is to have people read it, hopefully enjoy it, and then say it was self-published. That way, they realize it wasn’t self-published because the quality was poor but because I wanted to do it that way. As I explore my experiences in this endeavor, I will create blog posts about what the process was in publishing in paperback and ebook form and how I prep my books for publication. If there is ever a topic anyone wants me to explore, just leave a comment or message, and I will try to write a hopefully helpful post.