J.F. Jenkins: Self-Publishing
Welcome YA author J.F. Jenkins to the blog! She has a different view but one that needs to be heard. Take it away, J.F.:
Confession time: when I receive a book that is self published, I automatically don’t particularly want to read it. I also probably won’t spend my money on a self published work either. Maybe this makes me a book snob, but I’ve been burned too many times in the past by bad apples. I thought they’d be a good fun, cheap, date for the night, and they turned out to be slimey and sleazy. They made me cringe.
Don’t get me wrong, not all self published books are bad. For example, I adored Heather Hildenbrand’s “Across the Galaxy”. Here’s the thing that made it so good. Editing. And I can tell it had been through several rounds of it, and that she did not rush to get her work out. Most of the self published books I read lack this one important quality. The desire to rush a book out for publishing makes for a bad read. Plus, editing is expensive to pay for. If you’re getting it for free, it’s hard to find someone reliable who knows what they’re doing. Heck, even paying for it, you don’t know if you’re getting a good opinion.
I was asked to write about the importance of the publishing press, and so that’s where I’m going to start: editing. The publishing press will pay for and back up the editing for your novel. Pretty cool huh? In fact, they’ll back up what you do because they believe in you. That gives you a lot more credibility than doing it yourself and telling people you’re a good writer just because you say so.
No, I’m not trying to harp on self publishing. I think it’s interesting and cool. In fact, I may even give it a try some day with a project or two. At the same time, I’m nervous about it because of the bad apples. No one wants to be a bad apple, you know? But it’s also sad to see an industry start to struggle because of the lack of gatekeepers and the people who want to abuse the system for a quick buck. It’s creating a ripple effect in the traditional world of publishing as well. The industry has become a lot about how well you can sell yourself instead of how well you create. Truth is, it’s been going down this angle for a while before the creation of self publishing. But the world of digital publishing is making these ripples greater.
Which is part of why I urge writers to keep trying to find a publishing house. Do the rejection letters stink? Yeah, but each one will teach you something new about the industry as well as your work. Without the rejection, there’s no gatekeeper, and there’s no telling what could happen if we got rid of the gatekeepers entirely.
There’s no way to really stop the changes that are happening in the industry, nor am I sure if we want to. Eventually, something is going to give much like it did in the music world as well as television. All I can say is that if you’re going to take a dip into this pond, make sure you know how to swim. If you’re going to self publish, don’t rush your book just because you’re excited to get it out. This never ends well. Invest in a lot of editing. Read your book until you’re sick of it.
And I do strongly urge you to find someone to back up what you’re doing, someone who believes in you.
Find J.F. Jenkins at her website:
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/jfjenkinstweets
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