Here at the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, we constantly wrestle with the issue of self-publishing. Some of our members believe we should be strong advocates of self-publishing as the new revolution that will save writers, while some others see it as a scourge on writing and literary culture that we should oppose at all costs. The range of opinions among our membership probably runs the full gamut in between. I think it’s healthy to get a diverse discussion going about the pros and cons of self-publishing.
The following is a guest post by Lee Kvern on the subject:
Up until now I haven’t had a real view on self-publishing. I have always understood the need for people who are writing to be connected with people who are reading. What writer doesn’t require an audience? But in light of the huge market push (along with huge cost to produce a self-published print book), I now have an opinion. (E-books might be another story, certainly more viable in the cost versus what-you-get comparison.)
In my humble opinion, the self-publishing industry feels predatory, yet another way to suck money out of the already behind-the-eight-ball writer who must work one, two jobs in order to pursue (at best) this expensive hobby of writing. I’m against anything that markets to writers as opposed to for writers. I realize how enormously difficult it is to get a publisher, but for me, I would far rather take that 3-5 thousand dollars (for a print book) and go to a writer’s retreat, enjoy the fine company of writers, hone my craft, have readers that can offer me feedback that will help me grow as a writer.
I’ve seen far too many friends sucked in by the promise of self-publishing marketing schemes that leave them with boxes full of books in their basements that they can’t move or get reviewed, or submit to awards where your book might at least have a chance at being read. I’ve seen friends disappointed and bruised and disillusioned by the self-publishing industry. I’m not saying that publishers don’t have their own brand of disappointments (royalty cheques for one, and the sheer amount of time and money needed to get your book out there) but the difference being that between you and the publisher, you just might get a reader or two outside the neighbourhood.
Ok, that’s my rant for today, and I may live to eat my own boots/shoes on this whole self-publishing thing, if it’s truly changing the writing industry the way people think it will. More, I’m saying enjoy the process, embrace the supports in place for writers (Go to the Banff Centre or any other wonderful retreat!!) that serve to encourage, enhance, hone your skills and put you in the fine company of other writers. You can’t ever go wrong with that. And besides, who doesn’t want a basement full of writers (as opposed to books that you give away for Christmas – by the way, please put me on your list.) I promise you will be farther ahead and happier in the company of birds of the same feathers at writer’s retreats than handing over your hard-won money to the self-pub marketeers.
Lee Kvern is the 2012-2013 W.i.R. for the Canadian Authors Association (Central Alberta). You can find her on Twitter as @LeeKvern and on the web at: www.leekvern.com