1. Agree. This is an exciting time for writers and readers who are fed up with a hidebound and top-heavy conventional publishing system. Self-publishing puts power back in the hands of producers and consumers. It also enables a lot of yahoos to publish a lot of random trash, but the market will have a chance to regulate itself.

  2. Bainespal says:

    Giving work to freelancers — designers, typesetters, editors, etc. — is definitely a great benefit from self-publishing.  Not every good novel has a chance to get published from a corporate publisher, and not every capable designer or editor has the chance to get a job with any corporation.  There’s just too much competition.
    With self-publishing and freelancers selling micro-services, at least everyone can have the satisfaction of using their skills for real purposes.  Let’s face it — money is necessary for a sense of self-satisfaction from work.  Even if you can’t make a living from your skills, if you only ever do stuff for free, you won’t feel satisfied.  Getting paid even a token amount for honest work is a great blessing, not necessarily for the money, but for the sense of worth as a worker.  Everyone deserves to take pride in their own labors; I think that is a Christian principle.

  3. I’d add:
    1)One may also shun “vanity” publishing for vain, prideful reasons. I did, after all.
    2) A “traditional” publisher may tempt you into writing to please man and the bottom line rather than writing to please God. That’s as spiritually bad as writing alone because you’re writing apart from God’s will. (Your own bottom line as a indie publisher can tempt you like this, too.)
    3) Christians are to  strive to do their best work in the sight of God, but we’re ill-advised to compare ourselves to one another and try to be better than one another. That’s also driven by pride.

    • One may also shun “vanity” publishing for vain, prideful reasons. I did, after all.

      That’s a great point. “I’m too good for self-publishing; my work deserves a wider audience and better-financed marketing, plus large bookstore displays, a book tour, and commercials on conservative talk radio and interviews on Christian TV. …”

  4. Brian Godawa says:

    Good stuff, A.T. Publishers are simply not the protectors of excellence and accountability that Stephen was arguing for. BTW, I am not ashamed to give as one of my main reasons for self-publishing is to eat and provide for my family. I make money at it, while I didn’t make money trying to go traditional. Pretty logical and moral to me.

  5. A. T. says:

    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    Brandi, I think we are seeing some course correction in the self-published industry now too, as you mentioned. Writers who go this route are slowly starting to discover that they can’t just slap a cover on their book that took fifteen minutes to do. The push to produce professional quality is beginning to take over. 

    Brian, thanks. Yes, just because a book was published by a traditional publisher doesn’t guarantee their quality at all. Going the indie route is not only becoming more respectable again, but you might be able to support yourself (I’m hoping for this myself also.)

  6. Kessie says:

    Ahh, but you didn’t call this three SCRIPTURAL reasons to support self publishing. Where are the Bible verses that are pro self-publishing? (Stephen seemed to find all kinds that are against it.)
    Also, equating publishing with church attendance is the real kicker. Since, you know, publishing is a BUSINESS and church attendance isn’t.

    • Well, I had a hand in the title, mainly to help it match yesterday’s column. A.T.’s posish here is more practical, based on industry realities. Most of my cautions were based on warnings against any kind of publication endeavor — but particular ones that could be enhanced by traits unique to the self-publication process.

      For example, you won’t find many truly bad covers from traditional publishers. But you’ll find slickly dressed, “quality” corpses under the white-washed sepulchres.

      • I agree with Kessie.

        Although hearing A.T.’s industry-centric take on the subject is great, I would love to hear (for instance) Brian Godawa guest post and expound on some of the scriptural reasons FOR self-publishing.

        Some of those reasons go hand-in-hand with what A.T. is talking about here and some of them directly flip your original post’s assertions on their head (like the flip side of a coin). For example:

        – Scripture talks about the benefits of diligent, honest labor. And about providing for our families. With self-publishing, there is more opportunity than before for a good, diligent writer to make a living with their talents.

        – Scripture lifts up truth and excellence. Misguided gatekeepers in the current industry often block excellent fiction and non-fiction from being published because they do not consider it mainstream enough to make a profit. Self-publishing allows the message (or stories) to go out without compromise for profit’s sake.

        – Scripture extols the virtues of the Body of Christ each doing their part, working together with varieties of gifts to see the Kingdom expand. Self-publishing allows the freedom to gather fellow Christians into like-minded teams where each person can do what they are gifted and skilled at doing towards a shared God-honoring goal (whether that is publishing non-fiction teaching materials or speculative fiction with a Christian worldview).

        I love how this website is actually a good example of that last item. The team here is doing a great job raising awareness and encouraging participation and fellowship among Christians of shared interests and values. Keep up the good work!

  7. Jimmy A. Garland says:

    A. T. Thanks for you reply.

  8. Agreed, A.T. Last week I meant to say this, but after my try at Scriptural cautions against self-publishing the other day, I greatly appreciate your reminders about the positives of self-publishing and its ability to reach new readers with new stories — especially the kinds of stories that make traditional publishers skittish!

What do you think?