No, this is not a post about the joys of shopping at Home Depot or such. Nor is it about how to install a toilet by yourself although that could be very helpful. For years, the image of a person fixing something by themself has encouraged many to embark down a road of self-discovery and all too often, frustration and electric shocks.
No, again, this is about taking your art into your own hands and doing something about it.
It used to be if you were a musician, you would practice, practice, practice, with or without your mates, and play everywhere you could in hopes of being discovered and eventually signed to a record contract. And that was just the beginning.
The same thing pretty much held true for writers. Write and write and write and then submit your work to agents and/or publishers in hopes of being discovered and signed to a contract. That too was just the beginning.
As Joni Mitchell wrote, you had to “stoke the star-making machinery” to get ahead of the competition. Though times have changed, that part is still true today. You have to market yourself.
When musicians found they could not generate interest from record companies in their work, they turned to producing their music digitally. Digital changed everything. No longer were musicians captive to labels and/or agents to get their work out to the public. Best of all, they owned all the rights.
Digital and the Internet changed everything. It closed a lot of businesses and categories. When was the last time you saw a record store? A camera store? That’s only scratching the surface of its impact.
The same is true of writing a book and getting it published. The quest for agent representation is a long and arduous task with more often than not, poor results. That doesn’t necessarily reflect negatively on the author. The agents who pore though the tons of manuscripts received will undoubtedly miss some good books. They will also publish some not so good books. It’s a bit of a crap shoot.
Most writers I know don’t write to get rich, though none would mind that occurring. They have stories to tell and want to share them. Digital has made that possible. With programs such as Kindle Direct and 48 Hour Book, they can publish their book as they see fit. While those books may not have the benefit of professional proof-reading and editing, the stories are getting out there. And a lot of them are good, very good.
So, it may come down to this for the reader – do you want a nicely edited book with no typos (though most publishers will happily accept 3-4 per book) with not much of story or a book with perhaps some flaws but with a great story you may not have ever heard of if it wasn’t self-published?