Sunday, November 10, 2019

Alan Moore Tells You To Self-Publish and Why It Is Not A Solution

So this is a bit of a rant from me about the following article where io9 presents Alan Moore's speech about self-publishing as a solution to all the publisher rejection letters piling up on your desk, cramming your inbox and crushing your soul.

Of course this is all just my personal opinion but you already know that. While I think self-publishing can be really amazing, it's also really silly to expect that writers are going to get anything except debt (often times) out of self-publishing. The issue is that the vast majority of independent artists and writers have zero clue about how to market their books, get them seen, read, reviewed, shared, DISTRIBUTED. Not to mention that there are hurdles that make it impossible to get self-published books in stores,but that the internet has also become a hostile place for self promotion unless you're already successful in some way.

That whole saying about "if you build it, they will come" is not true about business and it not's true about spending loads of money and putting out a printed book yourself. Don't get me wrong, you still get into debt (run the risk of it) when you're picked up by a publisher but you also stand a much better chance of selling books with a publisher that has great distribution. And while I think Moore is right, if publishers are turning a blind eye to you, that maybe you should just publish something yourself (start digitally). I also think that MAYBE you should take a more critical look at your own work and maybe if EVERY publisher is rejecting you, maybe it is YOU. The timing isn't right for your book, maybe that bandwagon of post-apocalyptic YA books has passed. Maybe Vampires aren't in right now. Maybe your run-on sentences are making editors vomit.

I think this article is over-simplifying a very complicated process. Self-publishing is not easy, it's not really a solution. What it is, is an incredible difficult work-around in a hostile industry that is saturated with J.K Rowling wannabes and of course, actual amazing work that publishers just can't pick up RIGHT NOW. Yet this work-around of publishing your books yourself requires more than just finding a printing company or getting accepted by amazon's self publishing dept. It's about understanding the marketplace and MARKETING, understanding how to sell books (YOUR BOOKS not just any books), understanding that you need to be bashing the internet over the head with your work EVERYDAY, developing a community, finding a place in the community and understanding the most important thing- DISTRIBUTION.

I'm no expert, but these are things that I've seen people be successful at and most importantly, I've carefully noted the ways people fail at the self publishing gig. In the comic book world, I've seen previously-unknown authors gain notoriety because the author toured with their books like crazy, had small (numbered) runs which they didn't spend loads on in printing. They constantly posted on IG, Facebook, interacted with other industry creators, WERE FRIENDLY, did podcasts, made their own podcasts and honestly a lot of it did come down to "I met this person in the industry, we were friends, they liked my work and asked me to do stuff with a publisher they worked with ON A BOOK THEY WERE WRITING". Yes, comics in my meager, shitty opinion, looks to be very much about who you know like LOADS of other industries, or you know-getting a job at Tim Hortons.

Now after saying that I feel like I should tell everyone that the above statements do not mean that you should be beating other creators over the head with your work and FOR GODS SAKE, DO NOT go to conventions with the intention of hitting up every creator and publishing table with your books. That's seriously not cool. While some creators don't mind you dropping off things for consideration, it really is TERRIBLE form to go up to someone who's spent an awful lot for a table to sell their books and use their time to sell yourself. Most creators, yes probably some of your favorites who've gotten some level of decent success in the industry, don't actually make all that much money and they use their time at conventions to MAKE MONEY. They're not there to read your books and help you in the industry. You need to respect that. All too often I've seen this happen and it pisses me off because frankly it's rude and insulting. Especially since you probably didn't buy anything after taking up all their time.

There's not EASY way to get your work published. You can spend money on agents, spend money on printing really lovely books, you can do crowdfunding/kickstarters, and yes some people will be successful but it's not without incredible hard work and tireless effort. My only advice is to start learning as much as you can about publishing, about the industry online and in the brick and mortar retail world. Education and talent... That's all that can really help you if you're some schmuck like me living in nowhere's ville Canada. But unlike me, you'll need to get rid of that fear of failure cause that's what will ultimate leave you at a stalemate. I'm still struggling with that bit. Cheers and good luck! 

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