1. cuzzo
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    cuzzo New Member

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    Does self-publishing damage your reputation?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by cuzzo, Oct 2, 2011.

    I don't necessarily plan on ever being a published author, although I'd love to. But, I'd still like to know if self-publishing damages an author's reputation.

    Say thirty years from now I spend a lot of time and write a really great story, is it going to make a difference if I self-published a book today that isn't as great?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not in that instance... but having self-published something can hamper your chances of getting an agent or paying publisher to take on future work...
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why exactly does it hamper your chances of getting an agent/publisher if you've self-published?? (of course I don't suppose that applies if your self-published work ends up being really popular - but I mean on average where your work sells a little but really just remains quite unknown)
     
  4. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I think maybe that self publishing simply gives you a reputation. Its up to the quality of your work and how its received to determine whether that reputation is good or bad. However, trad publishing through an agent is more likely to earn you a better reputation, since agents and publishers will work hard to firstly make sure your works up to par, and then to sell it.

    In either case both are superior in some way to not publishing, where you have no reputation at all. After all, what sort of reputation would you give to writers whove never published anything?

    Cheers.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to disagree. A writer doesn't need to have anything but a checkbook to self-publish, so self-publishing doesn't assure you of anything positive about the writer.

    And self-publishing may imply a lot of negative things. A writer who has self-published a book that failed may look like:

    - a writer who doesn't have the patience or diligence to keep working until his writing is up to professional quality
    - a writer who doesn't value his writing enough to keep searching until he finds an agent who will do the best for his book
    - a writer who doesn't have the judgement to be able to distinguish between professional and amateur quality in writing
    - a writer who doesn't know the publishing business well enough to avoid spending money on a failing project

    An agent is likely to see self-publishing as communicating disdain for the traditional publishing business. An agent is _in_ the traditional publishing business. Therefore, he's likely to be inclined against a self publisher, especially if they're unsuccessful, and the vast majority are unsuccessful. Whether the advocates of self-publishing think that's fair or not, it's not too surprising.

    ChickenFreak
     
  6. Dithnir
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    Dithnir Member

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    If you're not known for self publishing, and you're submitting a new work, it'll probably be considered on its own merits. Some authors have self published stuff so good that agents and publishers want to get to know them.

    All in all just focus on writing the best piece you can, try to get it published traditionally, then try and self publish when the former is exhausted.
     
  7. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Chickenfreak,

    Yes, there's no doubt that self publishing is a risk. It may imply many negative things about an author and his work, especially if the work isn't ready for publishing. But against that you have the problem that many people, many writers, have not published at all and will not publish at all. Some of them may be terrible, some of them may be brilliant, but all of them have one thing in common, no one else will ever know.

    Self publishing, even if the work is poor, at least gives a writer a chance. A chance to find out if he has or has not got what it takes. If his work is worthy. If it can be made ready. And even if its not ready and he gets a bad reputation, bad reputations can be overcome. A poor writer can become better. An unsaleable writer can start becoming saleable. But a writer who never publishes, can never become anything.

    And while I agree that agents are in the business and should know their noodles, I'm also of the opinion that many of those they turn down, are good writers who's works are saleable. Lets face it they see so many hopefuls, and they can only take a few.

    So my view is that at some stage if you can't get an agent, if you are satisfied that your work is good and is also as good as you can make it, that you should take the plunge. The alternative may well be to never be published.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    self-publish if you will, but if you don't want your agent queries to be dumped on sight, never mention that you've done it, unless your vanity press published work sold in the high tens of thousands and was praised by the critics ['real' ones, not friends and family]...
     
  9. urban_rae
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    urban_rae Senior Member

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    Self publishing is risky for your reputation if you are trying to reach a broad market or even a well developed niche market. The professionals are there to work with writers for a reason, they know how to make money in this business and they know how to make you look your best.

    If you are distributing to a more underground or localized market, however, then I think self publishing can help you build a reputation, and in this case, I think any reputation is a good reputation. I encourage it for these small markets, after all, artists have to create, and those really brave ones, have to show everyone!

    Rae

    ---------- Post added at 09:24 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:24 AM ----------

    Self publishing is risky for your reputation if you are trying to reach a broad market or even a well developed niche market. The professionals are there to work with writers for a reason, they know how to make money in this business and they know how to make you look your best.

    If you are distributing to a more underground or localized market, however, then I think self publishing can help you build a reputation, and in this case, I think any reputation is a good reputation. I encourage it for these small markets, after all, artists have to create, and those really brave ones, have to show everyone!

    Rae
     
  10. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    Self publishing these days is extremely common and can be really good for your own promotion. A lot of well published writers are self publishing a few short stories on places like amazon and smashwords, and they are also self publishing their re-prints on there as well.

    If you are going to go down the path of self publishing, you have to make sure that you know how to format a story properly, you have to make sure your story is edited as well as it would be should it be sent to a publisher, etc. Mind you, I think that you are better of self publishing than sending your stuff to a vanity press.

    My partner was self publishing a novel he wrote some years ago that hadn't been picked up by any publishers. He didn't want to just have it sitting there doing nothing, so decided to release it for free on smashwords in parts. It was gaining quite a lot of reads and reviews, but the whole story was never released in the end as a publisher came along and took the novel on board and it is going to be released within the next year. They really liked the book.

    I think that self publishing can be a great way to get your stuff out there, but I also think that if you are going to go down that path, you need to be a very experienced writer to be able to produce a high quality that people aren't going to turn around and say is just another newbie who is too impatient to work at their craft and go down the traditional route.

    Get your stuff with some legit and paying publishers, go through the experience of working with a proper editor. These days, self publishing is not seen as badly as it used to be seen and there are a lot more published writers doing it. They are releasing them for free or rather cheaply. It works as great advertising for their professionally published work, as a lot of people get these free/cheap stories on smashwords and amazon/kindle, and then go looking for more work by the authors. My partner has made quite a few sales this way on his novel that was published last year. It's definitely helped his writing career and not harmed it in any way at all. I think it is great that his stories are receiving thousands of reads, rather than taking up the hardrive and doing nothing. And his previously published stuff, that he has the rights back to is all still available to be read, so it's a win win situation for both himself and his readers.
     
  11. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    Friends and family aren't real people?
     
  12. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Not when it comes to recommendations and reviews, unless of course you are closely related to a well know author. Agents don't care what Mama thinks. It falls under the thought, every mother thinks her baby is beautiful so you can't ask them to judge a beauty contest with their baby in it.
     
  13. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    My mother hasn't read my books, and my sister has torn shreds off me for some of them. I don't think it's necessarily a case of that they might be biased towards you so much as against in my case at least!

    Cheers.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    read what i wrote, s-wo... i never used the word 'people'... i said 'critics'...
     
  15. jamesE
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    jamesE Member

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    It seems that people are saying that it does damage your rep, but why?

    Is it a form of 'revenge' for not going with the big publishers (ebooks will probably put all the big traditional publishers out of business eventually, btw)?

    Why else would it be bad for you? Maybe you self published because you make much more per book that way, not because you couldn't be accepted by the big publishers.


    (the agents are dependent on the big publishers btw. When everyone will self publish, there will be no more need for them.)
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the reason is that being self/vanity-published [yes, 'self' is a form of 'vanity publishing'], indicates that the writer couldn't get a paying publisher to take on the work... which is an indication that it wasn't good enough for total strangers to want to pay good money to read it...

    and that's bad for you because agents don't have time to waste on reading mss from apparently substandard writers... yes, the writer may have improved his/her skills since self-publishing, but agents' time is valuable, so their mail-sorters and readers welcome any reason to pare down the piles of queries they get daily and seeing a reference to being self-published, or having work published as freebies [not paid credits] is usually followed by deep-sixing the query...
     
  17. jamesE
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    jamesE Member

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    "the reason is that being self/vanity-published [yes, 'self' is a form of 'vanity publishing'], indicates that the writer couldn't get a paying publisher to take on the work... etc. -- mammamaia"

    Why does it indicate that? There are many other valid reasons to go with self publishing. Ebooks pay much, much more than traditional publishing (typically 70% of revenue for ebooks, vs less than 10% for traditional publishing with a typical contract). And ebooks allow the author to better preserve his or her artistic vision (something that you probably don't value at all, if you think that success is dependent on being accepted by the bigs. But it is a valid reason for many).
     
  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let's ignore the whole question of whether self-publishing indicates that the author has created a work that wasn't good enough for a traditional publisher. Even if we ignore that, we're left with the facts that:

    - Anyone who can write a check can self-publish - self-publishing does not require any writing ability whatseover. So merely self-publishing is not an accomplishment. (Yes, self-publishing with substantial sales is an accomplishment; it's already been said in this thread that a highly successful self-published work is another matter.)

    - Therefore, a hopeful author who mentions his self-published works when submitting a work to a traditional publisher is mentioning something utterly irrelevant. He might as well mention that he can tie his shoes, that he knows how to drive a car with a stick shift, that he has really nice curly hair, or that his uncle's name is Frank.

    - The inclusion of irrelevant information in a query letter or other business correspondence strongly suggests that the writer of that correspondence is confused about the business.

    - Agents and publishers are not all that eager to do business with confused people.

    So I don't know if agents or publishers would go so far as to _research_ whether a writer has ever self-published anything, and hold it against that writer if he or she has. But I would certainly say that mentioning a self-published work, unless that work has had sales in the thousands, would be pretty off-putting.

    ChickenFreak
     
  19. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good points. This is what some writers I know feel too (who have published and now are considering self-publishing).

    Anyway, what reputation? I couldn't care less about what some snooty publishers or agents would think. That's like telling a musician who wants to produce his own music, on his terms, the only avenue is through Simon Cowell and co.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    vm80...
    writers who want to be paid for their work do care about their reputation... and with good reason...

    btw, the un-cited quote you include in your post as if it's your own words was actually written by the estimable samuel johnson... quotes must always be attributed... to not do so is akin to plagiarism...
     
  21. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If someone is starting off, they don't have a reputation. If someone were to self-publish, and years later approach a publisher,
    I wouldn't expect there would be some stigma attached to the author. At least there shouldn't be.

    I do know where my quote is from. It should be obvious it's not mine. Who in their right mind would quote themselves like that?
     
  22. Jetshroom
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    Jetshroom Active Member

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    Unfortunately publishers do attach a stima to self publishing. It is called Vanity publishing and (This has been said by a number of both authors and publishers) it displays a level of unprofessionalism while at the same time meaning that the publisher isn't getting the first publication rights that they're paying for. The only time self publishing is considered okay is if it's only a couple of volumes to distribute to friends and family. (Never send this to a publisher, they won't even read it.) Typically, for an author to self publish it's because no publisher would accept their submission. In most cases, there's a reason for that.

    HOWEVER, there are authors who've made their name by self publishing. Matthew Reilly self published his first book, Contest in and around Sydney, and it got quite popular. It has since been picked up by a publisher, but he's the exception to the rule. As it's said in "He's just not that in to you." "You're the exception, not the rule."

    I think it should be noted that while I thoroughly enjoy Matthew Reilly's books, there's a reason Contest wasn't accepted by publishers. It's not that great.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what [ethical] writer in their right mind would quote someone else's words like that, without providing the author's name?

    besides which, if you take a look at the site rules 'n regs you'll see that citing quotations used in signatures is required...
     
  24. jamesE
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    jamesE Member

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    It's funny we're having these conversations now about self publishing now, when in just a few years virtually everyone will be self publishing, and we will look back at this and laugh.

    "Given the ongoing demise of bricks-and-mortar bookstores with the closure of major chains like Borders, Angus & Robertson, Hughes & Hughes and others, it is predicted that within three years, 75% of books will be sold online (50% as ebooks and 25% as printed books). Only 25% of books will be sold in physical bookstores (down from 75% today)." -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self_publishing#Marketing_.26_Promotion (and many other sources)

    Yes, some of those will be published by trad publishers. But the vast majority won't.
     
  25. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again (and again) let's not confuse self-publishing with e-publishing. Commercial publishers also handle e-books. I doubt very much that most authors will go to self-publishing, unless perhaps with their backlists. They just don't want to mess with publishing; they prefer to write. However, e-books are now as much a part of contracts as are print - which means that those who go with commercial publishers will reach even more readers with both formats.
     

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