When is publishing one’s own work a good idea?
In many cases, self publishing, especially electronic (which is free) can be a good idea. It is a good idea when an author has written a good book that he or she would like to make available for purchase or distribution (there are cases in which electronic publication can result in free distribution, as during certain promotions undertaken by Amazon) . Making a work available through an electronic publisher like Amazon is beneficial to an author working to consolidate a platform because that work will appear during searches on the author’s name or on certain tags.
The work will be findable should the author suddenly die.
If a writer’s work has been undertaken for more than just money, that latter point can be important. However, it does not matter how findable any work is that is not also good.
Good means readable, enjoyable, or interesting. It means that there are people on earth who, should they start reading said work, will like it.
Last week I uploaded my play, The Jinni in the Clock, to Amazon. I wrote it when my eldest son was about 12 and his little brother, Omar, was 4. I wrote it because we lived in Saudi Arabia and the chances of my children ever participating in a school play were nil. I invited the children of my American and British friends (ladies married to Saudi husbands) to come over and rehearse. The kids had a blast, their mothers were the best directors /set and costume designers/stagehands imaginable, and all involved retain a fondness in their hearts for the tale of the genie-infested clock that passed from owner to owner in long ago Moorish Spain.
Now both the play and my collection of stories are available on Amazon Kindle. However, I do not intend to sell all my work this way. My first four books were published by a U.S. publisher and later by a Gulf Arab publisher. I made less money but earned credibility by publishing traditionally.
Every serious writer must endeavor to earn and hold onto credibility–not always easy to do. (Writers have been known to write a “bad” book after a “good” one.)
The reading public counts on the editors at publishing houses or magazines to sort out the readable from the unreadable. Electronic publishing is not going to change this process. The serious writer must attempt to establish credibility by submission to editors, such as our friend Ron Samul at Miranda (see blogroll) who is currently seeking high quality novellas for his online magazine. When an editor with a background in literature feels a work is good enough to be displayed to the world, readers are encouraged to give that work a few minutes–or hours–of their time.