It’s a long-standing controversy I probably have little original to add to it. But since some professional writers have argued that self-published novels dilute the quality of fiction on the market, making it harder for readers to find good reads, now that I’m actually self-publishing my first novel, I have a more informed opinion about the issue. It’s been said that most first novels probably shouldn’t ever see the light of day. I’m publishing mine anyway, because “Timber Howligan, Secret Agent Cat” is adorable. Also, I think self-publishing is marvelous. Amazon is Etsy for writers. I am actually having fun!
There’s a lot to it. You could just slap your manuscript in a template and throw it up on CreateSpace. But why would you want to? This is capitalism—there’s pressure to produce a good product. I’ve hired an editor, a copy editor, and an illustrator; I’ve paid for an interior design template; and I’ve got a friend who’s a graphic designer doing the cover. Because we all know—everyone judges a book by its cover.
It takes years to master the craft of fiction. A novice can’t possibly produce as polished a novel as an experienced professional. And I’m the first to admit that the publishing industry does a fine job curating the collection, being the gatekeepers, separating us readers from the unreadable slush.
Yet sometimes I still have a hard time finding something to read in a bookstore. Is that why I wrote my own book? Nope, I did it because that was fun, too. Look, there’s no reason writing has to be a chore—work, yes, there’s no way around that. But the best part about self-publishing is that you can have fun with the whole process.
This is not an us versus them post. I am a lifetime fan of traditional publishing, as anyone who’s ever seen my bookshelves can attest. But I find it ironic, this backlash against independent publishers. If you want to discourage a creative endeavor, don’t buy it; there’s no need to belittle it. Isn’t it funny that any creative attempt is wonderful when you’re a child, but only a “serious, professional effort” is worth encouraging as an adult?
Making things is fun—whether you’re knitting a scarf, 3D printing a robot, or self-publishing your own book. The way the world is heading toward DIY, self-publishing is here to stay—and I think that’s great.