Dept of FFS — Somebody Whining in Salon about Self-Publishing

So this morning, I read yet another post in Salon written by mid-list author bitching and moaning that self-publishing is hard. Is this part of a series?

Had the post itself been funny or otherwise entertaining, it might have worked as an attention getting strategy for the book,  but instead it was long, boring, and full of self-pity, thus prompting a response on my part, which you could either search for in the comments, or read below:

I probably should consider my words here, but….

Me, me, me. Would you like some cheese with that whine?. Did someone twist your arm and force you to self-publish your novel? Did you do any actual research before you took the plunge? Work with your agent on coming up with a publicity strategy? What on earth made you think that doors would simply be open to you? Also, your friends are your friends. It would be nice if they would support you or help you out, but it’s not their job, and it gets awkward, especially when these are well-connected friends and it feels like they are being used. (Which isn’t to say that you can’t give a reading somewhere and make it sound like the best party EVER and invite people you know and love.)

Self-publishing is tough. It’s especially tough for people trying to pedal mid-list type, non-genre novels, mostly because readers who read those kinds of books like the idea of gatekeepers and are unlikely to find your book without reading a review in one of the places that doesn’t as a rule review self-published books, and brick and mortar stores are unlikely to sell it.

These are facts. You would have done well and saved yourself some disappointment had you learned them before you put your book out there. It might have taken you all of two hours on the internet. If a mainstream publisher didn’t take on, that was because they didn’t think it would sell well enough to justify their expenses. You should have gone in with eyes wide open, knowing the audience, at best, would be limited.

Are you doing anything besides writing an overlong post on Salon about this? Self-publishing is about developing a direct relationship with readers. Is your book priced low enough for them to take a chance? Are you running giveaways on Goodreads? Blogging? Using other social media? Checking out review sites that actually do look at self-published books? Has your agent been in touch with Amazon regarding their imprints, such as Amazon Encores? Have you researched what paid forms of advertising might actually be worthwhile?

All these possibilities are out there, or you could just post something like this on Salon which might lead to a few people checking out your book, and maybe a couple of sales, for a day or two, though I seriously doubt it will lead to your book suddenly catching fire.

(In case anyone has somehow stumbled on this, yes of course like millions of others on the planet, I have “books” out on the Kindle machine (and even one in print).  Mine are actually good and you can check them out here here.)

2 thoughts on “Dept of FFS — Somebody Whining in Salon about Self-Publishing

  1. My first thought is he was trying to sell a self-published book the way he’d sell a trad pub book, and I don’t think that works. You have to sell an indie book to readers, not journalists and reviewers and bookshops.

    Then I looked up his book on Amazon US, and he’s charging three times too much, and it’s at a respectable 13,000ish ranking. What’s the guy whinging about?

    1. Shortly after the Salon post was up, his ranking was around 160,000, later that afternoon I saw it get to about 60,000, so I’m figuring to get to 13,000 he might have 10 more sales throughout the day, which in real numbers is not very much. If they came from that article, they won’t last. Last month, Salon had a similar “SP is Hard” type post by someone else. That book also hasn’t gone anywhere.

      You are right about his cluelessness, which was pointed out in a number of comments. I think he’s whining (as we say in America without the G) because this is so unlike his previous experience with his first book where the publisher and agent got him booked on NPR and got him real reviews. It sounds like he thought “If they won’t take this I’ll do it myself.” And didn’t realize that the reason he got the reviews and the radio spot wasn’t because people inherently recognized his genius, but because this was arranged. The publisher had invested in him and was trying to get something back. He didn’t sell his last book to a publisher because sales never took off, and they gave up on him. What’s irritating about his post (in addition to its length and the fact that he didn’t do research) is the feeling of entitlement. Also the wasted opportunity. There are mid-list authors like say Helen Smith, who self-published her out-of-print book, got picked up by Amazon Encore and has been WORKING graciously at developing that direct relationship with her audience and not complaining that nobody wants to read her books. People like her get the last laugh.

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