Why Self-Publish?


Getting your book published has always been a hard slog. It is frequently frustrating, sometimes humiliating and often a very depressing process. At least, through the conventional route, where rejection is the default position and publishing houses are able to dismiss manuscripts out of hand, it has often been so. Innumerable celebrated and best selling authors have had to suffer dozens of rejections before getting their work into print. Many publishers and literary agents don’t even respond, and paper manuscript submissions often simply disappear without trace.

The thing is, in the old days, publishing a 300 page book was an expensive and risky business. Publishers had to lay out substantial production costs, with no guarantee that many, if any, would be sold. The fate of the work of many aspiring authors was to be recycled as egg boxes or toilet roll tubes. Worse, bookshops like Borders have disappeared from our shopping centres. In Manchester over the years I have seen the demise of Wilshaws, Sherratt & Hughes as well as several other small bookshops. W H Smith hangs on, of course, largely through its extensive railway concessions. And, provided you want pulp fiction, paperback best sellers, cookery or gardening coffee table editions or magazines, it’s a good place to begin. But sadly, in Britain’s third largest city, there survives one single dedicated bookshop!

Amazon and the electronic book have changed all that. Nowadays, virtually half of all books purchased are in Kindle or iPad formats. And the number is growing. Whatever you may think of Amazon, we all use it – that’s why it’s so successful. Their Print On Demand system (POD) means that books are not actually printed ahead of time, only after the customer had ordered the copy (and paid for it in advance) is it actually printed – on demand.

Using the Amazon/CreateSpace and Kindle Direct systems, texts, cover images, as well as front and back material, can be all uploaded online. Within days the book can be available in paperback or Kindle formats. The system also allows the author to go back and edit out typos or errors, to change the jacket design, pricing, to add or delete words, sentences, or even whole chapters, before re-uploading the edited version. However, there is a downside. Amazon do not edit of make value judgements on the quality of the writing – they merely publish it. This does mean that any old rubbish can be published nowadays, whereas under the old system, editors would have weeded out the trash and only go forward with books they thought had quality or that might earn them a buck or two. Like much of the material on the internet, there are a lot of awful self-published books out there. I don’t mean the quality of production. Amazon POD books hold up very well with those printed conventionally by main publishing houses. Book quality is excellent, and they even designate an ISBN number in the package – in fact, you’d be hard pushed to see the difference, other than the ‘Published by Amazon’ credit hidden way down on the last page. Oh, did I mention that the process is all free? It’s just that even you, the author, have to pay for a copy of your own book – there are no free author’s copies!

Take a look at my Self-Published novel “Twelve – Time Interventions’ exclusively on Amazon at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Twelve-Time-Interventions-James-Sherwood/dp/1505886899.