Self-Publishing: On the Wrong Side of the Revolution

I like to think that I’m a pretty egalitarian sort of gal. I’m all about individual spirit and performance, the success of the underdog, the joys of meritocracy. But when it comes to publishing a book, I think I’m a little, um, elitist.

Personal enterprise and entrepreneurship are fantastic, but I can’t quite get behind self-publishing. There – I said it. The proliferation of independent presses where authors can pay as they go, bypassing the entire agent-publisher-editor nightmare, sounds like a great idea. Authors can get their name in print without needing to get approved by some official source in New York; they can make of it what they will, schlepping their books from store and store and reaping in their own profits independent of publishing houses.

But I just can’t do it. I need that official stamp of approval. I want that traditional prize-winning route of publishing, the route that all my favorite writers took before me. I want to be vetted, to make it past the insane odds of getting noticed by an agent and invited by a publisher, to have the title novelist because I earned it, not because I paid for it.

The truth is, though, that in today’s publishing environment self-publishing is a smarter and smarter idea. The vise placed on publishers for the next big multi-million seller means so many books with smaller sales potential get bypassed. Smaller presses and bookstores are being pushed out. The only real opportunity could be in the ubiquitous self-publishing houses. And more and more writers are getting behind it: many of the writers on my writing listservs, and many bloggers, hail these companies, like Lulu, for good service, good pricing, and the ability to realize their dream of being a published author.

So my snobbery may have to come to an end eventually. I’ll keep trying the traditional route with my novel, clinging to the increasingly old-fashioned notions. Maybe one day I’ll feel more comfortable with the concept of self-publishing. Until then, I’ll keep my snootiness to myself.

And, um, you.