I once saw this meme somewhere, probably one of the writing groups or business pages I’m in on Facebook. But when I couldn’t find it again I decided to re-make it so I could share it.
So here you go, but please don’t share it. It’s stupid.
Next time someone tells you self-publishing isn’t a legit form of publishing, or that “real authors” put their books out through a traditional publisher, point out to them the following piece of publishing trivia or share this article with them. It’s not a detailed history, but just enough insight to answer their ill-informed opinion.
Historically speaking, “self-publishing” is what ALL authors did after the invention of the printing press. Until the mid-1800s, most authors published their books at their own expense. It was simply the way things were originally done, and it had no stigma attached to it.
Publishers saw a need for helping authors with distribution and bulk printing, as printing your own books and carrying them with you from place to place could get cumbersome and expensive. It was not until 1846 that George Palmer Putnam instituted the royalty system that publishers still use in some form to this day.
Before then, all publishing was mostly self-publishing.
Sure, the publishing model morphed and evolved over time, and since there’s a great expense with printing in bulk and distribution being a financial risk, publishers would become much more selective of which books and whose books they’d publish. Eventually, you had these “gatekeepers” and if your book wasn’t one that was selected for publication, it basically had a slim chance of seeing the light of day.
Now, in the age of the Internet and print-on-demand, this need is solved without the help of a publisher. There are other benefits to traditional publishing, but merely being able to create your own book is no longer one of them.
Historically speaking, “traditional” publishing is relatively new, and self-publishing is the way it was done for the most part of printing history. It just didn’t involve ebooks, Kindle devices, smartphones, and the Internet as we have today until in recent decades.
Chances are, if someone is raining on your parade for self-publishing your book, it’s because they don’t know anything about writing or creating one and they are probably an underachiever going the way of least resistance in their own life. Or, they are a go-getter who just doesn’t know the reality of traditional publishing and the low likelihood they themselves can or will get a publishing deal; on average, a traditional publisher rejects 1000 manuscript proposals for every few they accept.
Just ignore them and “go for it”. Put your message or story out there and ignore the monkeys.
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Also, check out this interesting infographic on the history of self-publishing.