The “elevated” platform of self-publishing

Poets and Writers - Self Publishing

For the last few years, Poets & Writers highlights the independent publishing scene in America. This year is no different.

Recently arrived in the post is the November/December issue of Poets & Writers. In the past, it has been my practice to read each issue from cover to cover. However, (and in light of my post last week that elicited much conversation: Are trade publishers gatekeepers?[1]), I abandoned protocol and started on the self-publishing special section.

As I am still reading and processing the articles in this issue, one item caught my attention that I would like to share. Reportedly, more than 391,000 books were self-published in 2012.[2] That is a large number of self-published books. To be honest, I may have read only a handful of self-published works that year. An article in Poets & Writers offer some perspective on the matter. I would like to learn your response to the following:

A highly regarded agent recently remarked that the odds are stacked heavily against self-published authors—that only three or four titles really “make a splash” each year.[3]

[1] Closing out the blog post, I asked: “What are your thought about publishers as gatekeepers?” One commented suggested that publishers “think that they are [gatekeepers], but they’re not. They are commercial retailers…. They buy what sells. The quality only needs to be high enough not to send readers screaming.” Someone else commented that “I depend on publishers to be gatekeepers. While I know that they publish a lot of crap and don’t publish a lot of great stuff… I still believe that the ratio of things I’d enjoy reading to things I wouldn’t is higher among traditionally published books than among self-published ones. I’m sure I miss some really great reads this way, but I just don’t feel I have time to wade through the slush pile myself.”
[2] Jason Boog, Galleycat, “Bowker Counted 391,000+ Self-Published Books Last Year,” October 9, 2013, accessed October 23, 2013,
[3] Kevin Larimer, Poets & Writers, “Self-publishing Perspectives,” November/December 2013

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