It's official. Self-publishing has gone viral. Mainstream, in fact. When both Time magazine and NPR write articles within nine days of each other about the growing legitimization of self-publishing, I'd say that seals it. It's okay to self-publish. Not only is it okay, it has become the method whereby frustrated writers can find an audience before they find a good agent or publisher. But by the time they have a following, the authors may not need the latter. Nonetheless, we have a semi-affordable ground to prove ourselves, albeit one with many pitfalls, not the least of which is trying to find our audience. (BTW, I've become a pseudo-expert at building author websites and Facebook pages in the process.)
Time's article, The 99 Cent Best Seller, is a more comprehensive look at how some writers are successful at self-publishing their work. WARNING: Most are not. The article cites a graph (though doesn't publish it) analyzing the top 50,000 Smashwords titles. "It looks like a nearly perfect L, with only the tiniest sliver selling more than a handful of copies."
The NPR piece, Self-Publishing: No Longer Just a Vanity Project, focuses on two writers who self-publish, both with varying results. Like the Time article, one of the writers tallies how much it cost to put out his first book. His total: $2,500. It can be more. That's because writers end up doing everything or hiring out the things they can't do. At this point, I've already spent, out of pocket, $1,100 for my first novel, half of which went to an editor (whom I highly recommend, Novel Doctor). I've also bartered for other services. But that doesn't account for the untold hours I've worked and worked on writing, revising and "platform-building" on the web and social media. Granted, I haven't self-published a book yet because I'm still trying the traditional route first. Conclusion: I'll probably spend more money before it's over.
I sympathized this week with a fellow Twitter user, who tweeted about receiving his 111th rejection. I suppose once I get to 200, I may call it quits on the old way (I've got a long way to go, but my tolerance is weakening). As for my Twitter interaction, here's a nuance worth mentioning. After I replied sympathetically to the tweet, the writer apparently deleted his original. It's no longer in his feed. We writers are still sensitive to rejection. No need to publicize it.
The steam behind the self-publishing train has been growing for years. I'd like to think I scooped the national media with my regional article about self-publishing, which appeared in nwaonline.com a year ago. The world is flying by. Get onboard.