Sometimes, okay often, people ask me why I am so negative about self-publishing. Most of the time I don't see myself as being negative. Like most scientists I express interest in (and enthusiasm for) something by criticising it. This may be why I am still single.
That said, I do go through periods of frustration and exasperation. I start focusing on things that irritate me about the online self-publishing community. So now might be a good time to spend some time on what drew me in the first place, as a reader, to self published books. I will hit my top 5 reasons in different posts.
#5 -- True Conviction
The best self-published books spring from a writer who has something to say, something they truly believe in. When the writer speaks you do not hear a preoccupation with their own genius, the unfairness of the world or their desire to be rich and famous. Not that there is anything wrong with being rich and famous, but there are easier ways to do it.
The best self-published authors tend to speak predominantly of the message or story they truly, deeply want to tell you about. This enthusiasm or belief in the book is contagious, it energises every word on the page and can even carry me over small imperfections in format or phrasing. Whether it a fan glossary, self help book, fantasy tale or poetry--if the writer has something to say, something genuinely important and thoughtful, I will be inclined to want to read it.
I don't think I have ever seen this expressed better than by self- and mainstream published author Dorothy Bryant so I hope you will excuse an extended quote:
"I had been teaching since the age of sixteen, but from the time I started writing, I'd had trouble mixing writing and teaching; they drew from the same energy source. Now I was forty-five years old, and my position as a teacher was the one secure, lucrative, respected thing I had going for me.
So I turned in my resignation. It was another act of defiance like the decision to self-publish. And, like the earlier decision, it was a necessary act of faith in my work ...
I don't feel a bit like a hustler, because I'm not into false modesty this year. What I'm selling is the best, most honest, most moral work I can do-- ..."
(from Bryant, B. 1979. My Publisher/Myself. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 4/1, 35-39.)