It’s the biggest fear of self-published authors everywhere. You start to tell someone about your books, and they seem super-interested, cooing about your creativity, wondering where you get your ideas...then they ask you about your publisher. At this point, your stomach sinks because you know that if they are asking this question, you’ll probably get a stink-eye from them when you mention that you self-publish your books. The stink-eye usually conveys, “oh, you self-publish, so you’re not a REAL author.” Or, the stink-eye can also convey, “you must not have been able to get a publisher/agent because your books suck.”
Yep. The dreaded stink-eye (or, self-publishing stigma, as more professional people call it) has happened to every self-published author at one point or another. It’s cruel and unfair and completely ridiculous, but no amount of foot-stomping or screaming hissy-fits will help you escape it.
So, what can the self-publishing community do to forever squash the self-publishing stigma like the cockroach that it is?
Write good books
This is simple, but effective. If we all agree to write the best possible books we can write, and hire the best cover designers and formatters and editors we can afford, we’ll cease to give the haters any ammunition to use against us. If there are no more poorly-edited, poorly-plotted pieces of crap out there, no one will be able to say that self-publishers don’t take the time to produce high-quality books. No more self-proofreading. No more letting your mom beta read. No more letting your brother’s roommate who fools around in Photoshop design your covers. It must end. Now.
Don’t be a douchebag
Nothing says pitiful, struggling self-published author like a cyber attack on a more successful author. You see it all the time in Goodreads forums: self-published authors raging against other authors (both self and traditionally published), saying things like, “she just got lucky” or “my book is way better than his.” This kind of behavior only perpetuates the myth that self-published authors are...well, less than traditionally published authors. Stay classy. When in doubt, if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. Self-published authors need to unite, not tear each other down.
Ask yourself some tough questions
Just because you can self-publish, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Before you hit that publish button, think long and hard about whether you’re ready as a writer to release your work into the wild. Is your writing the best it can be—or should you hone your craft a bit longer? There’s no hurry.
Don’t be a hypocrite
Sure, you’re a self-published author. But do you READ self-published books? Again, Goodreads forums are full of self-published authors who admit to only reading traditionally published work. If you want to trounce the self-publishing stigma once and for all, put your money where your mouth is and don’t judge a book by it’s publisher. Buy, read, review and promote the work of your self-published brothers and sisters. Present a united front to the public.
What about the rest of you? Any ideas on how to squash the self-publishing stigma once and for all? We’d love to hear from you!