The self-publisher can go electronic, promote like crazy using social media and a link on the blog, and sell amazing amounts. Karen McQuestion did just that with her ebook, A Scattered Life, and now it's being published by Amazon (when did they become a big press???) and made into a movie.
A book not making it to the bookstore shelf is mattering less and less as we speak. A recent NY Times article chronicles the problems bookstores, including the massive Barnes & Noble, are facing due to the ebook explosion. And booksellers thought they had it bad back when Amazon took hold. Man, that was nothing compared to what's happening now!
So here's the question. Why bother with a publisher at all? Why bother with finding an agent, getting rejected, looking for a publisher, getting rejected, writing queries, getting rejected, submitting partials, getting rejected? Why not just save time, forgo the misery, and go straight to Smashwords? Or CreateSpace and Amazon?
If distribution doesn't matter, and marketing dollars are scarce (authors are having to promote like crazy anyway), then why not just do it all yourself and end up with a bigger piece of the pie?
A post yesterday on Melissa Cunningham's blog, A Writer's Reality, answers these questions, from the perspective of a debut author. EDITING. Did you hear that? I'm sure you did since I was shouting. EDITING. One more time. EDITING.
Sure you can have your work critiqued, even pay thousands of dollars for an editing service-- but all those people are so easy to ignore when they tell you something hard to hear, like:
These 3 chapters drag and don't add anything to the story--No way! That's my favorite part and is the essence of my book!
150,000 words is a bit much for a YA novel. Better cut by half-- I can't take out that much. Look at the 4th Harry Potter. It sold fine.
Your main character is annoying and will alienate readers-- What? The main character is based on my cousin, and this is true to her personality. I can't change it.
The boy and girl are both named Corey, very confusing-- So what? I like the name Corey.
There's an awful lot of telling in the first six chapters-- But that's because the reader needs to know the background to understand what comes next.
An editing service will be nice, make suggestions, and end up letting you do what you want because you're the boss. You are paying them. Not so with an editor at a publishing house. Who
Now if you're an amazing writer with the ability to self-edit with great skill, and the ability to take critique and run with it, polishing your work until it shines-- then you may be an excellent candidate for self-publishing.
I have nothing against self-publishing. Each writer needs to go the route that makes the most sense for him or her. But the editing.... that can be the real stumbling block. So if you're considering self-publishing, just be aware of the editing. Have a plan for that.