Is Self-Publishing Too Selfish?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Until a DIYer takes responsibility for another person’s work and and well-being, they cannot rightly call themselves a “publisher.”

By Edward Nawotka

two books

In today’s feature story Stona Fitch, founder of Concord Free Press, describes his company’s philosophy of seizing the machinery of publishing to help others. In the article, he encourages publishers to take the opportunities afforded by digital and self publishing to “become advocates — not just for their own work via relentless shilling on Facebook and Twitter, but for larger communities aggregated by genre, geography, or politics.” His publishing model defies the underlying assumptions of traditional commercial publishing and challenges the new generation of DIYers to think beyond themselves.

At present, do you think self-publishers are, well, too selfish? With the relentless focus on “me, me, ME!” wouldn’t DIYers learn a great deal more about the publishing process — from editing to production to distribution — if they were to work on another person’s book? By taking the risk and responsibility of “publishing” rather than merely uploading a manuscript to an online distributor or production company and hoping for the best?¬†Wouldn’t readers, in the long run, be better off as the professional values of traditional publishing proliferate through this new generation?

It’s my personal belief that a DIYer or self-publisher should not call themselves a “publisher” until they they take risk and responsibility for publishing another person’s work, which in turn is taking responsibility for another author’s well being.¬†Yes, you can argue the semantics of it as much as you like, but until that point a self-publisher is merely a “printer” (digital or conventional, sophisticated or not) adopting an honorific that they don’t deserve.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.