My good friend (plus excellent writer and God-pimp) Maurice Broaddus recently wrote a nice essay on why he hasn’t self-published.Â Go read it.Â It’s a good essay, and every part of it is true, especially the “Money should flow to the writer” bit.
After reading the essay, it got me thinking about self-publishing and the different ways it can be used and abused.Â See, it’s a different evil depending on the type of work.
For prose, self-publishing should be avoided at all costs.Â If you want reasons, go read Maurice’s blog.Â Sure, it’s fine for hobbyists, but it will not make your career.Â Every once in a while I see some talented writer pushing some half-pro/half-trash looking thing, and it makes me want to throttle somebody.Â They’re making themselves look like a joke.Â Instead of realizing this, however, they consider themselves mavericks of the publishing field.Â Gah!
Which is not to say self-publishing your prose can be all bad.Â I’ll add this exception to the rule: free promotional items.Â The little “A Team-Building Exercise” chaps I’m putting together for STAPLE! are an excellent example of this.Â I’d never dream of charging somebody for these things, but they do make for a rather cheap way of getting my name out there to 100 lucky folks.
Now, I tried the same thing a few years ago with some other stories, but I sold them for one dollar.Â A year later, I recycled about 94 of them.
Then there’s comics. Self-publishing is often a badge of honor in comics.Â A lot of incredibly talented people started out that way (and a few stayed that way).Â Hell, when I pitched one of the major comics companies back in 2002, I was told, “We usually only published people who have self-published before.”Â True story.
But you know what?Â Self-publishing comics is no business for a writer.Â Hell, I’ve found over the years that pitching comics is no business for a writer.Â If I were an artist I would have self-published a book years ago.Â Instead, I’ve spent the last three years going through the same pitch, waiting for various artists to turn in pages for a year before they either get their own deals or decide they want to self-publish their own books.
It’s a vicious circle of sorts.
So there you have some of my own thoughts on self-publishing.Â Feel free to send comments and/or hatemail.