Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

My bread-winning profession is in the arena of Information Technology or IT. I love it and am fortunate to have a day-job that I greatly enjoy. Writing is a passion for me and I'm quite content to keep both of these flames alive. I don't see myself choosing between the two.

I receive a plethora of technology newsletters, eagerly lapping up all the different news and information on the latest and next great thing in techology, as well as all the information on the evils of hackers and the like.

So, I was both pleasantly suprised and dismayed at an article in PCWorld online with the title - How To Pubilsh Your Own Amazon Kindle Ebook.

Pleasantly surprised because both IT and writing are important in my life; dismayed because just because you can self-publish, doesn't mean you are ready to publish. I continued to be pleasantly surprised because the author of the article did a nice job delineating the steps and further noted that professional consulting was also available, especially if you are new to the writing gig.

The one thing that an editorial process, something publishing houses typically provide, promotes is a series of checks and balances so that the written product in the end is entertaining or of value to the person purchasing it. One of the worst experiences for a writer is to have his or her first book fall flat on its face with the reading audience and then have his or her name associated forever with bad reviews. Readers and reviewers alike are not shy about letting everyone know the flaws they find with a book and its author.

Where I see this Grand Canyon of an opening into the world of self-publishing most useful is with niche ideas and niche markets. I'm not saying that others can't be just as successful but there are many well-written, well-researched works that can't find a publishing home because the publisher considers the appeal to readers too small for the amount of money and time it must committ to bring the book to fruition within the context of the typical book-publising model.

Imagine a parent whose child has a rare illness and said parent does a massive amount of research and documents her experience with caring for her child. Imagine that she starts a support group and reaches out to the rest of the world and discovers that hundreds of other parents have children with the same disease. In the end perhaps she discovers more than 2,000 other families struggling with what she is experiencing. Given her now vast knowledge of the subject and her skills at bringing people together, these other families turn to her for information and advice. A traditional publisher would consider even 2,000 a very small audience and not want to invest time or money on the project, but self-publishing would allow this mother to share the information she tirelessly worked to collect and digest while at the same time covering her costs and maybe even making a profit.

The article can be found at: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/237515/how_to_publish_your_own_amazon_kindle_ebook.html

One final note - don't confuse self-publshing with small-press publishing. Small presses are just that - small presses. They typically have editors and other staff that the larger publishers have and sometimes your book is more cared for by the smaller publishers. The larger publishers, often called publishing houses because of their many imprints or the fact that they goobled up another publisher, sometimes focus more on their best-selling authors with little or no attention and promotion dollars going to the rest of their authors.

Did I mention that writing and publishing is a frenetic and somewhat crazy business?


Morgan Mandel said...

It's an exciting time for authors no matter which oaths we choose!
Morgan Mandel

E. Arroyo said...

I agree...It is exciting to have options.

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