Self-Publishing has been around for many year but it wasn’t until recently, say within the past decade, that it has experienced its first change in how people perceive it. This change, I think, has impacted the book publishing industry more than anything in its history…and it ain’t done yet.
In the past, authors submitted their manuscripts to publishers for consideration. Most never saw the ink of a printing press. The remaining few were accepted by a publisher, published and distributed to retail book sellers. Getting this far did not mean you were a successful author. Your book had to sell, not just a little, but a lot. When your book became a best seller, well, then you became a best-seller author and sucked up all the fame and fortune that suddenly came your way. Now, if you were a really talented writer, and a bit lucky, you did it all over again...and again…and again. Success breeds success in this business. Think Stephen King, Danielle Steele, JK Rowling, Ken Follett…folks like that.
So what happened to all those authors who got the infamous rejection letter from the publisher which basically explained that their work was not worthy and they should join the other thousands of bottom-feeders scouring the basin of their nearest lake? Well, they either found something else to do with their lives or they decided to publish their book themselves. Along came companies aptly named “Vanity Press” who exploited all the wanna-be best-selling authors and gave them a finished product—a book they could hold in their hands and have stacked up by the hundreds in boxes that lined their basement and garage walls. And there, usually, they all stayed. Self-publishing was destined to have the negative stigma of being inferior and amateurish. Professional publishers, a bit of a snooty group of people, had no trouble reinforcing this undesirable image.
Nowadays, things are changing and self-publishing is gaining respectability. It has a far way to go to lose its negative baggage, but more and more people, including popular authors, are turning to self-publishing because it has several advantages over the traditional process. What has caused this change? One word: technology.
Along came the computer and with it, word processing and with that, a printer that instantly rolled out pages and gave you a document you could hold in your hands and distribute to others around you. Some people in the book industry took notice of these developments and this led to the self-publishing concept known as P.O.D., or Print on Demand. It meant it was no longer impractical to print just one copy of document…or a book. This revolutionized book printing and the renewed, now billion-dollar self-publishing industry was born.
How it all works, and doesn’t work, will be our next discussion at this same website, on this same page…stay tuned!