In a sign of how mainstream self-publishing has become, Poets and Writers—which has long been steeped in the agent/publishing house/MFA world of traditional publishing—features a special section on “The Power of Self-Publishing” in its November/December issue. While P&W regularly looks at the independent scene of lit magazines and small presses, this issue is the first to examine self-publishing as a “legitimate and, in many cases, preferable method of getting one’s work in front of readers.”
Indie authors, as well as writers weighing the decision to self-publish, will find a host of perspectives. Online, you can read a discussion of putting together a self-publishing team, the changing work of agents, and the shift in the gatekeepers of publishing. Along with an independent publishing entrepreneur and an agent, the conversation features Jennifer Ciotta, indie author of I, Putin and the No Bulls**t Guide to Self-Publishing. (Print-only articles address the need to have a good editor, the good and bad of hiring a publicist, and paying for a Kirkus review.)
Realizing the need to address writers’ thirst for more information on the indie option, P&W has added to its website an overview of self-publishing and a database of book review outlets (find out who reviews self-published books and who charges for reviews).
While P&W recognizes self-publishing as a “growing force” and a “game changer,” the special section also includes a healthy dose of caution that the indie option is not for everybody. As self-published authors know, turning your manuscript into a book with an audience requires an immense amount of work. To self-publish well and/or successfully—depending on your definition of these terms—may require bringing in outside help. If authors aren’t comfortable—or capable of—taking a complete DIY approach, professional editors, book cover designers, and formatters can contribute to a book’s chances for success.
P&W’s special section contains much to debate, but regardless of your opinion, it’s exciting to see self-publishing recognized as a valid option in the pages of a magazine that has long been in the vanguard of old-school publishing.