What's more, the PDF version is available for free from David's blog. If you're at all interested in self-publishing, or have done it already, then this book will give you lots of sensible, practical advice on what to do and lots of rational, coherent reasons why to do it.
This blog post is nothing like that however.
Because I believe that a lot of the time when we decide to do something, even thought we might have the best, most rational and well-thought out reasons for doing so on the surface, we often have other reasons for doing what we do underneath. Ones which might not be completely illogical, but would definitely leave Mr Spock scratching his head... (except he wouldn't do that, as scratching your head when faced with a tricky problem is in itself illogical).
I think there are two psychological reasons why beginning authors have taken to self-publishing so readily. Firstly, I'm sure many writers will relate when I say I go through a mental cycle regarding what they think of my writing - from loopy self-confidence to extreme self-doubt, then back again. Creatively I'm sure this is of benefit; you can't improve your book without finding it's faults, and being blinded by your talents doesn't help with that. But when you have to send your book or stories out into the big bad world, it's easy to get stuck in the self-doubt stage. Or at least that's been the case with me - I know objectively that even great writers have all endured having story after story rejected; that great books have been rejected by publishers after publisher. And so I shouldn't let any individual rejection dent my self-belief in my writing. But it's hard not to get dejected about it sometimes. Hard not to think that the outside world is right, and that each word I write is more pointless than the last.
But hey - with self-publishing, there's a constant and opposing feeling of approval from the outside world. It might be small-scale, it might be false, it might even be MBS - but it's there: the little upward jump in your sales-figures, a good review, someone Tweeting about your book, an email from a honest-to-goodness reader who likes your book. These are things that, let's face it, make you feel good.
Secondly, self-publishing gives you a sense of control. Twelve-months ago I had no idea what I was doing with my writing apart from chucking it around all over the place and hoping it wasn't all chucked back. I could set myself goals, but had no idea if and how I could hit them. But for the next twelve months, I feel like I've got it all mapped out:
- Self-publish 'The Shelter', a novella I want to put out as a standalone piece
- Keep sending out short stories to small magazines, but regardless of acceptance or rejection, collect some of these together in a second volume as a sequel to 'The Other Room'
- Work out what to do with a story called 'Xenophobia', a story which because of its excessive use of footnotes (and footnotes within footnotes) doesn't seem like it would ever work self-published on the current generation of e-readers
See, a plan. And one that seems achievable and totally in my control. It isn't - Amazon could change their business-model tomorrow and the whole shebang comes crashing down - but it feels like it.
A sense of approval and ratification from the outside world, and a strong (if illusionary) feeling of control over your writing career. No wonder self-publishing is so popular.