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Reconsidering Self-Publishing, or Craft Books

July 26, 2010

Like every business model adapting to new technology and economic realities, the publishing business has been having upheaval and change. One facet of that change is self-publishing. As noted in a recent New York Times Magazine article,

self-published books are not just winning in terms of numbers but also making up ground in cachet. As has happened with other media in this heyday of user-generated content, last century’s logic has been turned on its head: small and crafty can beat big and branded. As IndieReader, an online source for self-published books, puts it, “Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you’d find at a superstore.”

Full disclosure- an email from IndieReader tipped me off to the NYT story.

The IndieReader blog is also worth noting, for interesting perspectives on the new digital realities of publishing. At least going from the perspective of IndieReader and the other small independent self-publishing outfits in the NYT article, there’s a mindset of setting themselves up as boutique, or craft publishers, for a market mindset similar to the craft-sales website So they’re drawing a distinction between “vanity publishing,” which carries grandiose connotations, and an idea of  careful, small-batch publishing. Is it the book equivalent of craft beer? If that’s what’s going on… I guess I can’t help but like it.

In the past, I’d been wary of self-publishing as a concept, because of the impression that these labors of love were pure ego, not edited or vetted properly as they would have been to be published by a major publishing house. But, I’m starting to reconsider. Mostly, I’m thinking about how many typos I’ve seen in actual published books. Not just galleys! That drives me absolutely nuts!  And let’s face it, novels that really could have used some more stringent editing make it into legitimate publication and bestseller status all the time.

So, it looks like the idea of self-publishing and independent publishing really is changing, bringing a level of focus and quality, and seeking out a market share those in the book business might not have foreseen ten years ago.

Intriguing. I will have to learn more.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2010 1:06 am

    We agree! Self-publishing really is changing – there’s a new professionalism amongst independent authors and we see that in our membership – the vast majority of our members are well-educated and well-versed in all aspects of publishing and writing. It’s not about throwing a book together and setting it free on the internet. Independent authors appreciate that it is a life-time commitment and devotion to the craft of writing, and working tirelessly on the business side as well.

    Great post!

  2. July 29, 2010 7:33 am

    Good day,

    As the publicist of two authors, one of which is self-published, I can tell you that the self-published author puts more work into her books. Knowing that she doesn’t have the luxury of a publishing company behind her book makes it a lot tougher to get her work noticed…and when she does get someone to review her book, the last thing she wants is to appear as a hack. There is also a lot of pride that goes into the process of self-publishing, from beginning to end because everything (writing, editing, marketing, sales, etc) is all about how much they believe in themselves. Self-published authors don’t get to sit around and wait for royalty checks.

    Elizabeth – I sent you a copy of my clients self-published book to review. I hope that when you read it now, you’ll better understand the ‘love’ that went into it.

    Jennifer L. Vanderslice

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