Here at Romance Rehab, we love self-published authors. For starters, they release books faster than traditionally published authors. (More books + Less time waiting = happy book bloggers) They’re also able to express their creative visions without having to first filter them through the lens of the traditional publishing industry. (And let me tell you executives in the publishing industry something: you guys don’t always know what all readers want. So, when you say that paranormal romance is dead? Yeah...not so much. We can find you thousands upon thousands of romance readers looking for new vampires, shifters, and other supernatural characters to read about.) On a whole, self-published authors are fast, flexible, and fearless—and we respect the hell out of them.
But… (There’s always a but, isn’t there?)
For every awesome indie author we discover, we find a few that contribute to the self-publishing stigma. What’s the self-publishing stigma? Glad you asked.
Picture it, authors…
You start to tell someone about your books, and they seem super-interested, cooing about your creativity, wondering where you get your ideas...then they ask you about your publisher. At this point, your stomach sinks because you know that if they're asking this question, you’ll probably get a stink-eye from them when you reveal that you self-publish your books. The stink-eye usually conveys, “oh, you self-publish, so you’re not a REAL author.” Or, the stink-eye can also convey, “you must not have been able to get a publisher/agent because your books suck.”
Yep. That stink-eye is the self-publishing stigma and it’s happened to every self-published author we know at one point or another. It’s cruel and unfair and completely ridiculous, but no amount of foot-stomping or screaming hissy-fits will stop it.
So, what can the self-publishing community do to forever squash the self-publishing stigma like the cockroach that it is? Glad you asked that, too.
Keep writing good books
This is simple, but effective. If everyone agrees to write the best possible books, and hire the best cover designers and formatters and editors they can afford, the haters won’t have any ammunition to hurl at the self-publishing community. If there are no more poorly-edited, poorly-plotted pieces of crap out there, no one will be able to say that self-publishers don’t take the time to produce high-quality books. No more self-proofreading. (I think we’ve proven this doesn’t work) No more letting your mom act as your only beta reader. No more letting your brother’s roommate who fools around in Photoshop design your covers. It must end. Now.
Don’t be a douchebag
Nothing says pitiful, struggling self-published author like a cyber attack on a more successful author. We see it all the time in Goodreads forums: self-published authors raging against other authors (both self and traditionally published), saying things like, “she just got lucky” or “my book is way better than his.” This kind of behavior only perpetuates the myth that self-published authors are...well, less than traditionally published authors. Stay classy. When in doubt, if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. Self-published authors need to unite, not tear each other down.
This goes for how you treat book bloggers, too. Book bloggers are your friends, not your adversaries. So if a blogger doesn’t agree to read and review your book, don’t snap back with a scathing retort about how they’re missing out on the second coming of Nora Roberts. Just thank them for their time and move on. Authors who behave badly don’t get any lovin’ from bloggers. And what author doesn’t want a little blogger lovin’? (We’re damned delightful...if we do say so ourselves. And we do. But we digress…)
Ask yourself some tough questions
Just because you can self-publish, doesn’t necessarily mean you should, in our opinion. Before you hit that publish button, think long and hard about whether you’re ready as a writer to release your work into the wild. Is your writing the best it can be—or should you hone your craft a bit longer? There’s no hurry.
Don’t be a hypocrite
Sure, you’re a self-published author. But do you READ self-published books? We sure as hell do. But Goodreads forums are full of self-published authors who admit to only reading traditionally published work. If you want to trounce the self-publishing stigma once and for all, put your money where your mouth is and don’t judge a book by it’s publisher. Buy, read, review and promote the work of your self-published brothers and sisters. Present a united front to the public.
What about the rest of you? Any ideas on how to squash the self-publishing stigma once and for all? We’d love to hear from you!