This past week on Twitter, some jerk went on a rant about how self-published authors are ruining the book industry for "real" authors like him. Never mind that said jerk used a vanity press to publish his book...or that his overall review rating was in the 2's (his book cover is a crime against humanity, as well). He sincerely felt like his book would get more attention if all the self-published authors just went away. Various other stupid myths regarding self-publishing were spewed. I hope the guy was just an attention seeking troll, but in case he wasn't, in case anyone else agrees with this jerk, I want to make it VERY clear why I (as a reader) love self-published authors and their books and you should, too:
I read 5 or more books a week. If I had to rely on traditional publishers to supply my reading material, I'd struggle to find anything new to read. The fact that so many amazing self-published authors are putting books out all the time ensures that I have plenty to read, whenever I want. Traditional publishing simply can't keep up with my reading needs...and something tells me I'm not alone in that.
Paying authors more
Anyone who thinks that all traditionally published authors get 6-figure advances for their books and are crazy wealthy doesn't know the industry very well. Traditional publishers take a huge portion of an author's royalties--and that's AFTER their agents' get a cut, because most traditional publishers don't want to work with unagented writers. Meanwhile, self-published authors get anywhere from 35-70% (based on the cost of their book and markets they're selling in) of their royalites from Amazon and most other sellers. When I buy books, I like knowing that the author is getting more of their royalites than they would if they had a traditional publisher. I feel good giving my money to an author who has entertained me. Do I feel good about giving my money to a traditional publisher who is keeping most of the profit away from the author who wrote the book? No. No, I do not.
Traditional publishers like to think they know everything about what readers want. They latch onto a trend and won't let go of it until they've milked every last drop of interest out of it. They're quick to make comments like "Paranormal romance is dead, so we're not acquiring new PNR anymore," when in fact, the PNR market is still doing just fine. Self-published authors don't have to talk anyone into their idea, or convince anyone that it's "on trend." They can write whatever they want, whatever is in their heart, and publish it. Telling a writer what can and can't sell stifles their creativity, and I want my writers to be as creative as they want to be, thank you very much. No gatekeeping is a HUGE plus for me as a reader. (And on a side note, I hardly ever agree with what traditional publishers say will and won't sell. I seriously question where they get their data half the time.)
Self-published authors can set their pricing however they want. They can have sales whenever they want. Traditionally published authors don't have that kind of control. Ebook prices on traditionally published books often run anywhere from $7.99 to $12.99. That's just too rich for my blood--especially for a new-to-me author. I'd much rather read self-published books which I can more easily find in the $0-$5.99 range. And just to be clear: for an author I know and love, I don't mind paying $7.99-$12.99. But for new-to-me authors, I can't afford to take a risk like that.
Various other myths
And while we're on the subject, here's some other crap you hear about self-published authors/books that just isn't true:
Myth: Self-published authors are authors who couldn't cut it in traditional publishing.
Reality: There are TONS of self-published authors who are KILLING IT in earnings. Why on earth would they give up more than half their profits to a publisher? There's also plenty of hybrid authors these days. Those are authors who choose to traditionally publish some of their books, and self-publish others. For most self-published authors, not going the traditional route is just good business.
Myth: Self-published books are unedited crap
Reality: The biggest majority of self-published books (the ones I read all the time, anyway) were professionally edited. Self-published authors can (and most do) hire editors and beta readers and sensitivity readers for their books. Are there crappily edited self-published books out there? Sure. But I've read quite a few crappily edited traditionally published books, too. Errors happen and will continue to happen as long as editors and authors are human. But take it from someone who extensively reads self-published books almost exclusively: There are WAY more professionally edited self-published books out there than there are unedited or poorly edited ones.
Myth: Self-publishing isn't REAL publishing
Reality: Well, there's a REAL book when all is said and done. That's all I really care about.
Myth: Self-publishing is vanity publishing
Reality: Oh, FFS. Do a Google search. They're VERY different things. Vanity presses charge authors a fortune for production of their books. In the case of ebooks, the vanity press is charging authors for things that they could easily (for free) do on their own. Vanity publishing is a scam. Self-publishing is a business choice.
While I'm here...
I've done plenty of lists about AWESOME self-published books. You should check them out if you're looking to expand your TBR list. Here are 2 of my favorites:
But what about you? What do you love about self-published books and authors? Haters can see themselves out, frankly.
*Image courtesy of Elle Woods PR