The Psychology Of Self-Publishing – A Sad Letter to Self Publishers

There is no easy way to put this. I say this because I believe I am in a good position to make this observation – most of you self publishers should consider giving up. Point Blank. And the reason why is because you don't have the talent and/or intestinal fortitude to attain the desired level of being a professional writer. As an exception, I leave out those self-publishers who don't care – they just want a dozen or so copies to be sold and are self-satisfied with that, and those precious few who actually have the skills and talent.

I am not being cruel. I am being objective and I am being ultimately kind. I also say this knowing full well that for those precious few of you who in fact have what it takes, will often be undiscovered or have to go to hell and back to finally get recognition. That's life, and it's full of unjust shit.

Recognition. This is the concept, above all, that has the highest importance in this discussion.

The people who recognize self publishers the most are other self-publishers. I don't know the figures, but I believe there's over two-hundred thousand of you buggers. Many of you are bitter, vocal, even articulate – and can't write for nuts. Not that you would admit it, nor, for that matter, even KNOW it.

You see, you have a collective – an amorphous, Internet-based super-group made up of thousands of blogs, FB networks, Twitter networks and the like. And collectively, you ASSUME that your members are fair to great writers, and that the publishers, and multinational publishing and distributing companies are all the enemy, and certainly the fault of why each individual among the hundreds of thousands of you, have failed to get the agent, the publishing contract, the Times Best Seller. What makes it worse is that you grasp for any piece of evidence that (correlated or not, contextually correct or not) substantiates your claims/beliefs. Konrath is one such source, and grows his readership and dollars by taking on an unofficial thought-leader role in this mess. I like Konrath, I like what he writes, but I have a poor opinion of how his views just reinforce (intentionally or not) the ignorant self-publishing masses (most of you). This psychological effect has also spawned a totally new industry of companies, consultants and bloggists who make money encouraging you. SHEESH, that is where the rottenness of the industry really exists.

Some of you get a few sales, often by serendipity, and with the help of Amazon's zero-cost schemes – good for Amazon, could possibly get a toe-up for you, but for the majority it just adds to the deep illusion that you have what it takes to be professional writers. Then, as part of this psychology, if you get a bad review by an unbiased reviewer, then it's because the reviewer is a predator (presumably from the same gene pool as the evil publishers, editors, agents). The truth is much more simple – there are good, professional reviewers, editors, agents and publishers out there, who don't just want to make a living, but also want to gain recognition from those who count (readers generally, the genre-industry groups, etc) and want their authors to be recognized. Agents and publishers WANT good authors, because it makes them money, and many of them get a kick out of it. Yes, there are also predators out there, but don't stop people from swimming in the ocean because a shark might swim by.

Recognition. That's the key. A very small number of self-published writers have made it big, and ALMOST ALL of this select group ended up joining traditional publishing groups. That's because they got RECOGNITION by people who really know what they are talking about and have done it collectively, professionally, for millions of years.

Most importantly, you need to get an unbiased view of your work – this is mainly found along the traditional path. Most of you, instead, just by-pass this critical learning/experience curve and find yourselves in a big bubble where all you get is the praise, the 5-star reviews, the interviews etc, from the rest of you.

Sorry, I just had to spell it out. If you are a self-publisher, that's okay. But don't succumb to the psychology of the collective. Keep writing, join good critic groups, write short fiction and SELL them to recognized periodicals, ezines, anthologies etc. Keep looking for good people in the industry who will recognize your talent and skills, if you have it, and help you climb the ladder and gain the recognition you deserve – if you deserve it.

Get real.

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