Mar 7, 2013

Self-Publishing - Don't Rush

Today is World Book Day, and recent discussions about self-publishing got me thinking of a topic that connects gaming and writing.

One of the reasons given for writers to self-publish is time. Traditional publishing can take anywhere from a year to two years to produce a book on shelves, and that's after a contract is offered in the first place. Whereas you can have your book uploaded to Amazon and on sale in an afternoon. I'm sure that's a tempting proposition. I've seen some authors put out four books in a series all in the same year.

However, while there are writers out there capable of drafting and editing a manuscript to the best quality in such a short space of time, most simply can't. I know I certainly couldn't manage it. The fastest I ever drafted a book was the re-write of my second novel, which I managed in two months. That was full on, balls to the wall work. I did nothing with my free time except write. By the end I was exhausted, and it still needed editing before I could send it to my publisher.

Back in 2000, when Wizards of the Coast released their new edition of Dungeons & Dragons, they introduced their Open Game Licence. In a nutshell, this licence allowed independent game designers to use the D20 rules system for their own products.

What followed was a rush of new game companies releasing titles under the OGL. More gaming material was published between 2000 and 2008 than any time in the history of roleplaying games.

And most of it just wasn't very good. Most of the companies never got themselves firmly established, and to this day, there are maybe three games companies still turning a real profit from product lines made possible by the OGL.

I would hate to see self-publishing become the realm of forgotten books. Amazon's Kindle store could, if enough writers rush their books out before they're ready, end up filled with 1-star-rated books that will sit there forever. Self-publishing is really starting to be accepted as a legitimate path for authors. I think every author who chooses it owes it to themself, and to other authors, to work just as hard as a traditional publisher to make sure that their product is the best it can be. Otherwise the very things that make it an attractive option could lead to it being branded as the path for authors who just aren't good enough to be traditionally published.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Am I worrying for nothing?


  1. Well said. With the way things are going with Traditional publishing and very few writers getting published, self-publishing is a viable option. I made the decision to go that route while I was still writing my novel (Which is now published by the way). Still, I've seen a lot (and I mean a lot, because I've had to go through the torture of reviewing them) of authors just upload their book without thinking of revising for story, characters or plot. They don't bother trying to hire and editor, and their cover looks like something they did on their desktop. I understand being on a budget. However, writers can spend time reaching out to other writers in the indie community. You can get your cover designed or your book edited by connecting to the write people. Not only that, but you also meet great critique partners and beta readers that can help you book become a 100 times better if you are willing to listen. At least this is what I've learned over the past year or so.

    1. I think the goal of every self-published author should be that a potential buyer doesn't realise their book is self-published unless someone tells them.

      It would be great to see people leave the "self-pub vs Trad-pub" argument alone and go back to the "how to make great books" argument.

  2. I'm with you, Paul. The focus should be on creating great books with stellar content. I *want* self-published books to rock my world, but so far I've seen more ? than !, if the makes sense. I think you said it best, " I think every author who chooses it owes it to themself, and to other authors, to work just as hard as a traditional publisher to make sure that their product is the best it can be."

    Every business requires start up capital and writing is no different. If we're really serious about our work, we should be willing to invest in professional editors, graphic designers, etc. Otherwise we harm not only the success of our own work, but also the image of self-published works in general.

    Great post!