The case for self-publishing

 

hub-citySelf-publishing is a bit of a polarizing topic. It does certainly have some shortcomings, but I feel that a lot of good writing gets overlooked due to its perceived stigma.

I self-published my novella Hub City Survival six years ago. Would I have done things a little differently today? Absolutely–I don’t think anyone can say they didn’t make mistakes in their time, especially with a six-year gap in between. There are scenes I would have re-written altogether, there’s dialogue I would have scrapped and I certainly would hired someone to smash it down with a hammer. But I didn’t, and I’m okay with that. Here’s why:

Hub City Survival wasn’t even supposed to get published. In fact, it just kind of popped out one day. I started writing it on DeviantArt and quickly gained a small following. It was a short project. As it gained popularity and reached its conclusion, I decided I wasn’t done with it, so I decided to compile it and sell it. Self-publishing Hub City Survival was never intended to be anything but a limited print run.

But, luckily for me, it turned out to be a bit more than that. And, in fact, I keep telling myself I’ll do “one final order” of a batch of books… but every so often there’s a demand, and I end up ordering more!

In the wake of the surprising amount of attention the novella got, I decided to try and gently nudge it in the direction of a few media outlets. One of these outlets was a small newspaper with a focus on independent music, local events, and some literature, so I figured I’d be a shoe-in–but I was surprised when I was met with “we don’t really do self-published books”. Of course, this is fine–they can write about whatever they please, and my book didn’t fit their criteria. But I found the focus on independent music and local arts contrasted with their rejection. Independent creators in other media were fine, but apparently writing can only be good if it’s pre-approved by an industry professional. If you post your stories online, nobody thinks twice. If you write a blog post, nobody thinks less of you. But when you decide to put them into print of your own volition? The conversation changes.

For those of us whose ideas don’t direct toward a conventional reading audience, self-publishing is a viable option. For those of us who are niche writers, self-publishing is an excellent option. For those of us who don’t want their ideas to direct toward a specific audience, self-publishing is, arguably, the best option. And some people just like the freedom they’re allowed through self-publishing. Why is there such a difference between self-marketing written work versus other forms of craft or art?

Please don’t get me wrong! I am extremely appreciative of all the reception Hub City Survival has gotten over the years, and I wouldn’t change anything–rejections included. These are merely questions I ask when I see the reactions when self-publishing is mentioned. I understand minor skepticism that surrounds self-publishing, especially when it comes to editing and re-writing. But, I also feel the self-publishing market has gotten a bad reputation, needlessly.

My next book, Mushroom and Anchovy, is being crowdfunded through Inkshares which, essentially, is a self-publishing platform. If it reaches a certain amount of pre-orders, the book will be published through a professional publishing house, but I’m still the one directing the progress. I have developed an audience through Hub City Survival, which will help me with my campaign, and, in my opinion, can be a useful way for other writers to gauge interest in their projects.

It is my hope that one day I will be able to professionally publish one of my books through a well-known house, but I don’t want to treat my little “misfit” projects like they’re inferior. They’re still projects I worked hard on and poured a lot of myself into. They still mean a lot to me. That’s Mushroom and Anchovy, that’s Hub City Survival. And that’s why they get self-published instead.

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