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Should You Do It?

If you are a new writer, ask yourself these questions before you self-publish your novel:

  1. Has anyone but you read it?

  2. Anyone who doesn’t live with you?

  3. Anyone who has not at any time ever given birth to you?

  4. Did they like it?

If the answer to any of those questions is ‘no,’ you are not ready. Your book is not ready. If you haven’t shown it to anyone, do so. If no one outside your immediate family likes it, it needs work.

(If you can answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions you may be ready, or you may not; this is just the quick cut.)

The point to self-publishing is to take a greater degree of control over the distribution of your work than a traditional publisher gives you. It is not to throw any old shit at the wall and hope it sticks. Write something good, get some honest feedback to confirm that it’s good, then you can proceed. Otherwise, you’re not just making yourself bad, but you make all self-published writers look bad too, and none of us want that.

The Self-Published Fire Hose of Sewage

A little late to this party, but Chuck makes excellent points. If there is anything that is going to sink the new ebook self-publishing revolution, it is the astonishing volume and poor quality of most self-published books. There is already a reader backlash, and it’s only going to get worse.

The problem isn’t that there are no good self-published book. The problem is that there are so very, very many bad ones that it’s hard for readers to find the good ones, and after they’ve been burned a few times they’re less likely to trust any book that doesn’t come from one of the major houses.

I’m not sure what’s to be done about that. I think there has to be (and eventually will be), some mechanism for guiding readers past the shit, but I’m not sure what it would be. My own vague thought would be some sort of standards committee or clearinghouse. This organization (possibly volunteer) would basically just say, “This book meets certain minimum standards of literacy and production values.” That’s it; nothing about the story being enjoyable, no editing services, just, “It doesn’t make me want to gouge out my eyes with a pen, you can use our logo.”

Not perfect, but it would give readers at least some sort of lifeline to cling to when they venture into those murky self-published waters.