Traditionally, a writer would seek a publishing deal with a major publishing house. If they were fortunate enough to secure such a deal and their book was published, they were considered to be a proper writer. Those who self-published were seen as nothing more than vanity writers. You might say they cheated the system, and as such they were looked down upon by the writing world.
Times have changed. With the coming of computers, the Internet, websites, blogging, ebooks, Kindles, iPhones, iPads, Twitter, Facebook, a plethora of digital publication formats and new medias for self-promotion has arrived. With this has come the ability to submit your writing to markets that were just not there or unavailable to writers as little as 15 years ago. Writers can even choose to circumvent the traditional publishing route and take complete control of their work, and many writers are doing just that and making a good living from it.
But are they cheating? Do you still see a distinction between those who self-publish and those who have a traditional publishing contract, or is the line starting to blur?
In my opinion the line is blurring. Self-published books are accepted and do sell. Of course along with that acceptance sometimes comes a drop in quality. If you are going to self-publish, you must be able to write. You do need the services of critique partners, beta-readers, and a good editor. You will need to pay for a quality cover and ensure you use a reputable printing house. All these things should be ignored at your peril.
Personally, I still want a publishing contract. Not because I disapprove of self-publishing or that I'm unprepared to do the work to ensure my novel is fit for publication; I want the security of knowing my work was chosen by an editor and considered worthy of publication.
But what if I did decide to self-publish? Would I be avoiding facing up to failure just like Kirk? Would I be shielding myself from rejection?
These are tough questions but as writers we should all be answering them, because how we answer could determine the rest of our writing careers. Do you want a traditional publishing contract or are you brave enough to cross the line? If you have already been published, which route did you take?
Live long and publish.