Since booksellers like Amazon and other pioneers opened the gates of self-publishing in the last ten years for millions of print books and e-books to be sold without professional representation, the publishing industry has changed in many ways. There are more books to be read that explore revelatory genres and topics, and content is no longer as directed by gatekeepers or publishers trying to predict the next trend. Self-publishing in its various forms has had many positive outcomes for authors and readers alike, and one might think that with all of the services available for quality editing, cover design, and marketing strategies, that the stigma with self-publishing and the quality around it and their authors would’ve faded away with the rise of such examples of Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking, and E.L. James (the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, which was a self-published work posted to a fan fiction site before it was mass produced by Random House).
It seems however that in several areas of the industry and with booksellers themselves, a stigma is still placed upon a self-published book and/or the authors of self-published works in 2018. Mass distribution in brick and mortar bookstores, libraries, and international markets have yet to be breached by most self-publishers, with instances of booksellers showing reticence toward authors who bring their self-published books in to be sold via consignment or request to schedule a signing or event still occurring.
Many self-published authors who choose to pursue their publication path go in with the knowledge of the potential stigma around their choices and are prepared for it—yet that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid feeling or concern, and one that can and should be addressed.
Ways to Combat the Stigma with Self-Publishing
Produce a High-Quality Book:
First and foremost, the best way to overcome the stigma about choosing to self-publish is by ensuring that your book has been produced with the best services available—an editor/proofreader, a gorgeous cover by a graphic designer and interior formatting are essential in overcoming the stigma that self-published books are hurriedly written and non-vetted by industry professionals before availability. When other authors you meet ask who your publisher is, you know you’ve done things correctly in terms of image and quality—they’ve been fooled!
Speak About Your Books with Confidence:
In terms of discussing your publication with potential readers or interested parties for marketing purposes, maintain a humble but positive demeanor when discussing your book. Don’t immediately say “I’m self-published” with a sheepish grin or mention it at all unless absolutely necessary. For starters, 9 out of 10 readers don’t even know the difference between self-publication and traditional publication, and secondly, if your book is made with the quality every self-publisher should aspire to achieve, it won’t matter either way.
**Note: the only time this will really come into play regarding clarification of self-publication over traditional is if you approach a library or bookseller about carrying your book. If it’s self-published and you haven’t purchased your own ISBNs from Bowker (instead opting to use free ones offered by Amazon), then libraries/booksellers aren’t able to order copies from a printing distribution source like they would with a traditional press. In these cases, it’s necessary to bring your own books to distribute via consignment—as in, you order them from your printing source first at a discounted bulk rate, then sell them to the bookseller before they in turn sell them to readers for a profit.**
Consider Hybrid Publishing:
If you still feel like the stigma of being a self-published author limits your abilities for marketing or your confidence in your author platform, hybrid publishers bridge the gap in many ways. Though there are many different packages and tiers from which to choose with hybrid publishers, the general ideas is that you pay the hybrid publisher up front to connect with their own team of editors, designers, and public relations team to produce and promote your book. Whereas traditional publishers pay you via an advance (and thus own your book rights) before publication, hybrid publishers are similar to self-publishing in that you pay first for the services received. Some authors prefer hybrid publishing because of the validity an imprint provides, and the ease of working with a team rather than hiring freelancers separately.
Whichever avenue you decide in terms of self-publishing, hybrid or traditional, Midnight Publishing’s editors, writers, and marketers are here to help. Contact us anytime to discuss your publishing needs, schedule a query or manuscript critique, or to schedule a personalized publication plan—we’ve been trusted with over 10 million words so far.