Self-publishing has changed so much since I began five years ago. When I started out, it was so much trial and error for me and other authors, trying figure out what works. Now there’s so much more information, but there’s also so many more authors and books. What worked five years ago to stand out – low prices, nice book covers, writing in a popular genre – isn’t enough to stand out anymore.
Fortunately, things do seem to be settling down. There seemed to be a gold rush for a while, where people who didn’t even have a passion for writing were flocking toward self-publishing as a kind of get-rich-scheme.
But now the glow has faded from self-publishing, and the truth is out – it’s hard work. It can also be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s tremendously hard to write, edit, package, and market books successfully entirely on your own.
Self-publishing and ebooks have proven that they’re here to stay, and I think that some of the initial stigma has faded as well. I doubt that self-publishing as a whole will ever be looked at in quite the same regard as traditional publishing, the same way that genre fiction will probably never be held in the same regard as literary fiction, but at least it’s not as taboo as it once was.
I’ve also seen more and more hybrid authors, who publish on their own and with a publisher. It seems that people are getting to a point where they see that publishing and self-publishing aren’t mutually exclusive, and they aren’t enemies of one another.
I do think it’s a really incredible time to be an author. There are so many options for publishing and releasing books, and hundreds of ways to connect with readers. I’ve noticed a lot of authors – myself included – releasing short stories and bonus content, which was something that wouldn’t have been financial feasible before ebooks and the digital age.
It’s not a perfect system, but I do think that publishing as a whole is changing and adapting to accommodate more writers and more readers. I’ve noticed a push for greater diversity in books, and while the change has been slow, both the authors and the characters in the books are more inclusive than they have been in the past.
Regardless of the medium a book is published or whether it’s with a big house or no house, a book is still a book. Some of them are bad, and some are very good. But now that there are so many more options, it means that more books are able to reach the exact people that are looking for them.