Back then, self-publishing was hard. Now, it's easy. For some people, it means that self-published books are even more a sea of crap than they ever were, which is perhaps a reasonable argument for sticking with traditional publishing. One the other hand, readers will read what they want to read and work of mouth is a powerful thing, so good books will eventually become known and bad ones avoided, however they were published.
Fey on the print-on-demand indie comics site Indy Planet. I also made it available on the Comics Monkey site, which distributes to the wholesale market. Except for the copies I bought myself to have on hand, I haven't sold a single copy yet, but that's OK. I haven't promoted it either. I just wanted to get it done and out there. Indy publishing in comics has a longish and fairly well-thought-of history. At some point, I'll get organized and actually promote and see if I can sell some, but I want to get back into drawing it first, so I can be confident that it will, in fact, actually be finished some day. To that end, I'm almost decided on getting a table in artist's alley at this year's Hal-Con science fiction convention.
My aversion to self-publishing my fiction remains, but it's decreasing every day. There are a lot of downsides to it. For me the most significant is promotion. I can handle the writing, I can find people to read it and give feedback, I can make reasonable cover art, and thanks to this latest degree, I can even design a passable (though not brilliant) book cover. But promoting myself and all those other little tasks a traditional publisher is supposed to do. . . . Well, I guess I can learn. And I think I just might give it a try. The worst that can happen is my books rot in obscurity like thousands of others.
I started writing because I wanted to tell stories, and also because I wanted to make books. I learned hand-bookbinding, printmaking, letterpress printing, design and even photography for the same reason. And self-publishing will let me make my own books. If other people like them, that's cool. Heck, if I could make a living doing it, that would be great. But I won't count any chickens before I even have a basket to put the eggs in.
Things that got me thinking (more) about self-publishing:
- Kristine Kathryn Rusch's post on the changing business of publishing, especially the one on new writers
- Dean Wesley Smith's posts on the myths of publishing, especially the one on "Self Publishing is a Bad Idea"
- an email from friend and teacher Heinz Insu Fenkl in which he suggested self-publishing as an increasingly legitimate path for many writers