Self-Publishing is Here to Stay

A Guest Post by author Lance Manion

¡Viva la Revolución!

The more articles I see about how self-publishing is ruining the literary world the happier I get. The establishment is finally waking up to the fact that their influence is going to start to wane. Cocktail parties, press junkets and Harvard class reunions are no longer going to determine what the reading public is able to get their hands on.

Anything that allows writers to write and readers to read without having to pass through that pack of self-important snobs is music to my ears.

Trembling Fist by Lance Manion
Trembling Fist by Lance Manion

Much like new music is music to my ears. The internet broke down the monopoly of the major labels and allowed musicians to get their music heard without their consent. It leveled the playing field and now we see thousands of bands getting downloaded, their music judged on its own merits.

Artists can set up websites and show off their work without having to deal with arrogant galleries.

Filmmakers get thousands of hits on YouTube. Podcasts have more listeners than radio stations.

Technology has set creativity free to a degree never before witnessed.

So how does the publishing industry fight back against this tidal wave of choice sweeping over the consumer? The only way they know how. With pretentious people dispatching condescending arrows from up on high. Publishers and agents sending forth their drones to attack anything that they deem beneath the lofty standards they have set.

Those standards?

Fifty Shades of Shit from where I’m sitting.

You have an industry complaining about the quality of content while at the same time scrambling to get Honey Boo Boo to write a tell-all. They might be right about the majority of self-published books being crap, but they’re ignoring the fact that most published books are crap.

Crap or profound or weak or brilliant, it’s all in the eye of the reader.

And those readers can now hunt down any type of book they see fit to read, pay only a few dollars (or nothing at all), download their selection and within minutes be engaged. The best part? It can be a best-seller or something their neighbor wrote and both are delivered in the same way.

Sitting on an eReader they appear as equals.

Now can you see why everyone who has a horse in this lucrative race has something negative to say about self-publishing? They don’t want a thousand authors selling a thousand books each, there’s no money in it for them. They need one author selling a million.

So every day they come at it from a new angle, spewing their derision and spite, and every day I read their little bursts of anger with undisguised delight.

Don’t get me wrong. They are still going to control the huge releases. There’s no stopping Harry Potter once that train gets moving, to think otherwise is just being willfully ignorant. Money still talks loudest.

But there are a thousand little whispers going on anyway, like kids talking in the back of the classroom while the teacher scribbles away at the chalkboard. Fueled by forward-thinking websites devoted to independent authors, open-minded reviewers and a hodge-podge of strange allies, from podcasts to college radio, new writers are finding their voice and, more importantly, an audience.

Next time you see an article ripping the self-publishing industry a new one for daring to think that they can compete with the establishment just remember where it’s coming from. The big boys are losing their grip. The barriers to entry are crumbling.

The barbarians are at the gates.

Let’s make them feel at home.


Lance ManionLance Manion is the author of five short story collections. His latest, The Trembling Fist, is available now at Amazon. He contributes to many online flash fiction sites and blogs daily on his eponymous website. He finds the na at the end of banana as annoying as you would if it were bananana.

Lance’s contact points: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

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  • Although I work for a big conventional publisher (in education, so not quite the same as fiction), I’m behind the ideas in this article. I’ve loved books my whole life; anything that gets more of them to more people is brilliant. I don’t believe that the quality of the stories being told is compromised by this, but I do want to make a point about the quality of the end product.

    I’m an editor; I work with authors to make their books the best that they can be. Big publishers have money to invest in editorial work to make sure that the books they release are coherent, accurate and readable (although I absolutely take your point about the Honey Boo Boo style Christmas releases…I don’t think those get quite the same attention to detail!).

    Too many self-publishers think they can skip the copyediting or proofreading stages that are so crucial to making their book the best it can be. Or they don’t have the money. Or they don’t think it’s worth it. It is. It so is. So many readers could be turned off a cracking story if the medium hasn’t been polished up a bit. So to the self-publishers out there (and I hope to be among you some day), please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Some of the ideas the big publishers have are worth hanging onto. Just hire your own editors and proofers.

  • Glad to hear it! I work for a book publicity/book marketing firm (Smith Publicity) and many, many of our clients are self-published authors. It is amazing how self-publishing is really the way the book industry is going. We receive so many wonder self-published works and I am happy to hear we will be in the future as well!

  • It is wonderful that everyone has an avenue to publish today and get their stories in front of audiences. However, just because a story is published it doesn’t mean it will find success. Sometime the backing of a publishing house is what sells the book.

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