Are self-publishers just vain? Is this the main reason for the stigma against this way of publishing and reaching readers.
The vanity publishing question used to be easily answered. On the one hand, you had trade publishers and they paid you. On the other, you had vanity publishers, and you paid them.
If you worked with the former, you were entitled to call yourself “published” and revel in the fact that somebody besides your mother thought you’d something worth saying for yourself.
If you were the one reaching for your wallet, you were vain and deluded and deserved every thing you were being dealt from the assorted literary fraudsters that lurked on the fringes, with their advertisements appealing to your dream of seeing your story between two covers and on a shelf.
And self-publishing didn’t work. The distribution of books was a tightly controlled supply chain and it was almost impossible for a writer with a garage full of books to break in, no matter how good their book might be.
But even back then, it wasn’t quite so simple. You got writers like Wayne Dyer, who put his self-published books on the back of the car and went from town to town, promoting them, until they became bestsellers. He passionately believed in the value of his book.
Is that really vanity?
Given the changes that have engulfed the books industry in recent years, it’s time to reconsider the question of vanity publishing.
• Is it vanity to seek the validation of a publisher/agent for your work rather than relying on your own creative imperative and going straight to readers?
• Is it vanity to publish your book if it is not yet – like most first books – fit for publication? Or is publication now merely a much earlier step in a writer’s creative development?
• Is it vanity to choose to spend thousands of dollars “self”-publishing your book with Archway or Book Country, just because they have brand-name trade publishers attached (even though they own your ISBNs and are therefore the legal publisher, not you, and, when you could quite easily do what they do for yourself)?
• Is it vanity to write at all? Why doesn’t the musician entertaining the crowd down the pub not get accused of vanity for getting up and playing his music? Why is only writers who are asked to justify their urge to create? Is it a measure of the power of our medium?
Or is it just that trade publishing has benefitted for a very long time from authors feeling to go it alone is somehow not good enough?
Where does the self-publishing stigma arise and what is vanity-publishing these days?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.