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The Problems with Self-Publishing
Self-publishing is often known as the biggest advent of the publishing industry since the printing press. Traditional barriers have been removed, and because of systems like Kindle Select and Smashwords, it’s becoming more and more profitable to self-publish, rather than go through the pains of finding an agent and publisher to validate your manuscript. However, many people have legitimate concerns regarding self-publishing. As such, below are some of the problems that have caused a lot of people, authors and readers alike, to question its legitimacy.
Best Seller Status
In an article written by Brent Underwood, he explains how he managed to become a best-selling author on Amazon for about $3. First, he published a book that only had a picture of his foot. Then he asked some friends and family to buy that book. And in just a span of 5 minutes, he managed to obtain bestseller status on Amazon. He’s also stated he’s waiting for that sought-after movie deal, though at this point, I’m rolling on the floor, laughing.
While there are many good works in self-publishing, keep in mind that just because you’ve made it to number one best-seller in a (small) subcategory, many works are being published at a frighteningly fast rate. You might achieve best-seller status for a day or two, but after that status is gone, you’ll go back to fighting for the top spot again. There was also a debacle where one writer literally bought her way onto the New York Times bestselling list, but that's another story.
Vanity publishers are the bane of writers' existence. They charge authors to publish their book, and once they do, it’s up to the author to promote and sell a certain number of copies. Vanity presses aren’t selective about the content they put out, and because of this, books published by them aren’t necessarily the best quality. What’s more, there’s a stigma attached to vanity presses, and while that stigma is largely gone, many book bloggers, reviewers, and bookstore owners may still turn away from a book published by vanity publishers.
Another thing to consider is the fact that a lot of vanity presses tend to engage in unethical business practices. They would overcharge for their services, outright lie to the author and say they aren’t a vanity press, and, of course, produce books that aren’t up to par with the rest of the publishing world. Publishers such as Press-Tige Publishing and Northwest Publishing have even been in the news for their fraudulent practices, with the latter’s owner, James Van Treese, being sentenced to 30 years in prison.
And the other general issues
Then of course, there’s the financial battles of self-publishing. Many authors can’t sell copies of their books because they don’t plan ahead. They don’t plan to market their books to anyone, and simply believe that the readers will show up, gushing about their book and how brilliant it was. What’s more, when their book receives a scathing review, they may engage in what Kathleen Hale refers to as “light stalking.”
The truth is that many authors are trained to write. They do it for the love of the craft. They do it because they care. What they haven’t been trained in is business, marketing, or even how to handle people when their book begins to draw attention. This problem will get better as they continue perusing the self-publishing field, but needless to say, it’s a hurdle everyone has to jump through when they first decide to self-publish.
Again, there are many diamonds in the self-publishing industry. As a book reviewer, I’ve had the pleasure to read a lot of them. Still, you shouldn’t underestimate the industry just because of a few successes. After all, when one author gets a movie deal for their self-published book, millions more are trying to do the same thing.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Robin Goodfellow