Inanna Arthen said it well in her response to my Nov 30 post. She commented:
"It’s most unfortunate that so many writers are just incredibly ignorant of what is really involved in publishing a book. Printing the physical book is just one step in a long, long process. … being the publisher means you have to know about business laws in your state, accounting, ISBN numbers, copyright law, Library of Congress numbers, book design, layout and typesetting, getting cover blurbs, meeting deadlines and protocols for pre-publication reviews, setting up sales parameters from price to shipping to distribution to the Amazon detail page, designing and producing promotional materials, targeting and querying post-publication reviewers, marketing, and paying all your taxes…and that’s just for starters."
I've learned all this stuff and more over the 20+ years I've been writing and publishing. And I've shared my knowledge with other writers when they've asked. I've also noticed that self-publishers who participate in online discussion groups are very generous in sharing what they have learned. But we don't have so many opportunities to educate the old guard about what we do. Most of them don't ask, don't want to hear. And it's hard to break through their prejudices.
Last month I was part of a group of Colorado mystery writers doing a bookstore signing, which also included talks by a couple of the writers about their writing and publishing experiences. Not surprisingly, the speakers were not self-published authors. When an audience member asked a question about self-publishing, the speaker responded by saying it's not a good idea to pay someone to publish your book. Although I was reluctant to identify myself as self-published in an environment where I felt it would reflect poorly on my novel, I couldn't let that comment go by. So I jumped in and explained briefly the self-publishing process and the difference between self-publishing and subsidy publishing (see my 9/20/07 post). A brief discussion followed, in which we all agreed that editing is an essential part of the publishing process, and that self-publishers must have their books edited.
I have no idea what impact my comments had on the people there, or whether they now think differently about self-publishing. I do know it's not an easy conversation to have. When I'm talking with traditionally-published authors who don't know I'm self-published, it's tempting to try to "pass" for one of them. That way I don't have to justify my choices or deal with them seeing me as someone who couldn't make it the way they did. But I know I need to speak up for self-publishing to try to help others understand it. So I plan to push past my fears and continue to confront the old guard with the facts.