For many authors these days, self-publishing has become a life (or career) saver. Instead of waiting years until an agent or a publishing house gives them that much needed break, they can take the reigns themselves and publish their own books directly. However, if you look around you’ll see that publishing houses are still around and are in no danger of going away anytime soon. If self-publishing is really all that it’s cracked up to be, there’d be no need for the large archaic publishers, so what gives?
The truth is that the self-publishing industry isn’t really perfect yet, here are a few reasons why:
Poor signal-to-noise ratio
One of the biggest complaints against traditional publishing is that getting published is akin to passing through the needle’s eye. It could take a lot of time and persistence before you actually get a manuscript approved, or at least knowing the right people. Unfortunately, that same gating also serves as a means of weeding out the chaff from the grain.
There’s a reason why being published through the conventional channels is treated as some sort of badge of honor: it usually means you’re good. Compare it to self-publishing, where a person can decide to publish his own work regardless of quality. The self-publishing industry has more badly written books because there’s very little quality control.
More expensive in the long run
One the surface, there’s a lot more money being thrown out with traditional publishing. Companies hire proofreaders, editors, layout artists, marketers, and all the other backend stuff that happens before you see a book on a shelf. With self-publishing, you will also incur costs. However, you can be smart about exactly how and on what you spend your money. At least, you can when you’re just starting out.
The trouble starts you expand your little self-publishing business. There will come a time when all the work multiplies to the point where it’s impossible for you to keep up with, so now you have to hire people. And you have to do it without the connections, experience, and legacy systems that let big publishing companies minimize costs. What’s worse, you’re not yet at the level where volume and established user base will be enough to defray all the expenses. You literally have to build a business from the ground up, and that costs a lot.
The first point about having poor signal-to-noise ratio is one of the biggest culprits here, but at the moment, self-publishing doesn’t come with the same prestige as being published through the usual channels. It’s very easy for your works to be dismissed as subpar simply because it’s been self-published. Worse if you’re only producing an e-book, as people are likely to consider it as “just an e-book,” which isn’t even a real book.
Hopefully, given enough time, the self-publishing industry will shape up and/or people will no longer have any preconceived notions about a self-published book’s quality, allowing authors to gain prestige (and massive sales) without going through the old guard. Such perceptions are slowly changing, however, and authors who’ve not only written books that have been self-published, but are actually good reads are helping the cause; Amish Tripathi being a case in point.
But for now, all the signs are pointing to self-publishing still not being perfect and traditional publishing still having the lion’s share of the industry.
Image credit: Will Scullin on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hv1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of eBooks India. He is also a prolific eBook writer with over 25 titles to his name.[/author_info] [/author]