Two reasons why not to self-publish your book

Confession: I am an advocate of self-publishing. I have been for years. But my views are changing on the matter due to the glut of poorly written self-published books being released each year.  Serendipitously, I found this article in the London Evening Standard that offers two reasons why not to self-publish: 1) publishers and 2) editors.

Authors need publishers more than ever when there are so many voices out there competing for our attention. As Horowitz rightly says, the main raison d’être of a publisher is to provide the author with a skilful editor who can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Editors are the midwives of great literature. T S Eliot’s The Wasteland wouldn’t have been the masterpiece it is if it hadn’t been edited by Ezra Pound and his wife, Vivien.

The death of publishing is greatly exaggerated. We will still need publishers as long as we read books, just as we still need critics to review those books. It is part of the great filtering process of literature and culture. (link: Self-publishing makes us think we can write)

Any questions?

2 thoughts on “Two reasons why not to self-publish your book

  1. My only question is whether the writer knows anything at all about the current state of publishing. Oh, and what century is he living in? Editors are no longer the midwives of anything. Even well-known authors are lucky if their books are edited properly. By all means, spending years trying to get the attention of an agent and then of a publisher, and hoping that an editor will spend more than five minutes with a book is a big improvement over learning to do it yourself. Even if it’s a steep learning curve, you’ll get more out of self-publishing. Only idiots and the self-deluded think that being able to self-publish qualifies them to write.

    • I can not speak for the writer of the London Evening Standard article I quoted. As stated, I am a long-time advocate for self-publishing. A few years ago I listed several authors (including Margaret Atwood, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Nikki Giovanni, Viggo Mortensen and others) who self-published or at least paid for the printing of their books. In that same piece I noted that sometimes publishers and editors get it wrong (in the case of James Frey). Having worked with publishers and editors as well as self-published authors, I am stubbornly accepting the reality that self-publishers have nothing to lose and everything to gain from their book investments. Whereas publishers have everything to lose and nothing to gain from risking their investments on a book.

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