Last weekend at the York Festival of Writing, David Gaughran and I ran a four-hour workshop on how to successfully self-publish. Attendees were sharp, interested, and not afraid to ask questions – the perfect audience, really – and David and I hoped we’d helped them on their way.
But even before the workshop started, a minor victory had been won: the very fact that the festival programme had included a workshop on self-publishing, as well as a slot for me to speak the following day on my own experiences with both traditional and indie publishing.
Although most attendees were there seeking the traditional route – and most presenters were agents, editors, and bestselling authors – the very fact the organizers acknowledged the growing trend of self-publishing amidst all of this showed an acceptance of it as a viable route.
As I spoke with workshop attendees and fielded questions during my presentation, it became clear to me that there really is a need for rhetoric-free, unbiased input to allow writers to make informed, sensible decisions. Harping on that self-publishing is only for the desperate and that it’ll only ruin your writing career is about as helpful as screaming that traditional publishing holds no value whatsoever for anyone.
In my opinion, self-publishing isn’t for everyone – the same way traditional publishing may not be the right option for many of us. It comes down to the individual to make that choice, based on their unique scenario. Sidelining self-publishing away from big writing conferences like last weekend’s isn’t helpful for writers struggling to become educated, and I was pleased the organizers recognized that.
Do writing conferences in your area include sessions on self-publishing? Do you think they should be part of such conferences that have typically focused on the traditional route?
And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve received prior to self-publishing?
PS – Many thanks to everyone who chipped in a few weeks ago with why you decided to self-publish, and what some of the biggest challenges are. Your comments were invaluable!