Self-publishing seems to be a getting a lot of attention at the moment, both online and in the press – and not all of it positive. To lay waste to some of the myths about self-publishing I’m inviting indie and self-published authors to share their thoughts on the publishing revolution and how it has shaped them. This week I’m delighted to welcome Jeremy Rodden, whose titles Toonopolis and The Myth of Mr Mom: Real Stories By Real Stay-At-Home Dads are currently both on Top 100 Bestseller lists at Amazon.com.
Self-Publishing – It’s The American Way
In the wake of bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s recent interview with the Daily Beast, wherein she declared ‘DO NOT SELF PUBLISH’ as her recommendation to aspiring authors, many independent and self-published authors have been up in arms in defense.
As a self-published author, I have often advocated self-publishing as an option to my fellow scribes. In fact, I think self-publishing is a great example of things being done the ‘American Way.’ And wouldn’t it be wrong for Superman to have fought for it all these years if we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to live it? (Granted, Superman recently renounced his American citizenship but that’s a different story.)
Politicians often refer to small business as ‘the backbone of American economy‘. What is a self-published author other than a small business? Why would Jodi Picoult discourage people from following the self-publishing path? Indie author and self-publishing advocate David Gaughran discusses Picoult’s theory on the myth of a segregated marketplace here.
My contention, though, is that a self-publisher is the same as a small business owner. Is there risk involved? Absolutely. The small business owner has to write his or her own plan for success. They don’t necessarily draw a paycheck at the beginning of their journey. Just like a self-published author, they are following a dream and putting in sweat equity that may or may not pay off in the end.
The most wonderful part of self-publishing, in my opinion, is the amount of control the individual has in his or her own success. I am not writing here to disparage the legacy/traditional publishing model (Joe Konrath and David Gaughran handle that plenty on their blogs). However, the truth of the matter is that a lot of control is taken away from the author under those systems. The author loses final editing control and final say in the titling and cover art. Also, the level of marketing is done at the whim of the publisher.
As a self-published author, my career success operates under the alchemic law of equivalent exchange (I can’t create something from nothing). The more I put into my own success, whether it be time or money, the more I am likely to get out of it. I, personally, have been marginally successful (several top 10 rankings in Amazon categories for my books), but I have colleagues who have been very successful. I also know they’ve put in far heavier investments in their own success than I have in mine and are thus reaping the benefits.
The beauty of living in a democratic and capitalist society (not JUST America, of course) is that there are many different paths to success. For some authors like myself, self-publishing has opened doors to realize our dreams. For others, traditional publishing is the only way to fly. All in all, the joy of our industry is that there are OPTIONS. Options and individual choice: the real backbone of democracy. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that there is only one ‘right’ way to do things. That would be undemocratic.
Jeremy Rodden considers himself a dad first and an author second. He is the author of the middle grade/young adult Toonopolis series of cartoon novels, as well as the editor, publisher, and contributor to the #2 bestselling Kindle book on Fatherhood, The Myth of Mr. Mom – Real Stories by Real Stay-At-Home Dads. He can be found online on Facebook or on Twitter.