by Frances Carden of The Book Nook

Self-publishing – is it the new paradigm for an old regime or the demise of professional authorship? Authors and readers remain divided on the subject. Nevertheless it must be admitted that self-publishing is a new force in the authorship and publishing arena that cannot be ignored. The 2009 New York Times article summarizes both the horrors and the wonders inherent in the every expanding industry of self-publishing.

While vanity presses have long existed, technology and the Internet have made self publishing an especially effortless endeavor. Places such as iUniverse, Lulu and other publishers put the entire publishing process in the hands of the authors.

Author Betty Dravis describes the good and the bad side of self-publishing in her e-mail response:

“There was a time when I turned my nose up at self-publishing, but I wish people wouldn’t put a stigma on it. The main drawback to self-publishing is that the publishers don’t supply editors (only at exorbitant fees) so a lot of junk gets published…with too many errors and atrocious grammatical errors. As an Amazon reviewer, though, I have run across some gems that were self-published. So there is some good that comes from it. Then there are the authors who want to put a book together just ‘for family and friends.’ That’s where self-publishing is a blessing.

“I can advise self-published authors, and even those who publish with small ‘indies’ like me, to be prepared to do most of your own public relations work…and that is very hard, takes much time and keeps you from what you really love to do: write! One of the favorite lines that I ever wrote is this: ‘Writing a book is like sliding down a rainbow; marketing it is like trudging through a field of chewed bubblegum on a hot, sticky day.’ And that’s the truth of it!”

Most authors tend to share Betty’s cautious yet optimistic approach to the emerging field of self-publishing. As the New York Times article notes in a depressed economy where publishers are relying only a bestsellers only and are ignoring new authors and non-bestselling authors, self-publishing offers a new door into an old habitation.

Of course, some authors still remain dubious. Scott A. Johnson, prolific author of over 50 works, notes in an e-mail interview:

“I have never, nor shall I ever, self-publish.  The problem with it is that anyone can do it.  If I so desired, and had the money to do so, I could publish a book of nothing but the phrase ‘I wrote this’ over and over again.  There is no measuring stick for self publishing.  Traditional publishing is the mark of a true professional.”

The debate rages on but regardless of emotions, it looks as though self-publishing is here to stay. So, what do you think about this new phenomenon? Is self-publishing an exciting new development that opens the industry doors to up-and-coming authors in a time of economic downturn? Is self-publishing the destruction of professional authorship? Is its wide acceptance of anything contrary to the ideals of quality set down and established by the industry?