Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guest editor Monica Harris: To self publish or not to self publish...

Monica Harris of MHM Editorial Services focuses on improving the talents of writers and providing publishing opportunities for authors. Harris is proud of the many authors she has assisted in becoming bestsellers and her participation in creating profound changes in the publishing industry and the media.

As Senior Editor at Kensington Publishing, she initiated and edited Arabesque, the first African American romance series by a major publisher. There she also edited historical romances, mysteries, women’s mainstream novels and non-fiction. Harris has won a number of important honors, including Waldenbooks Special Achievement Award, New York Chapter of NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2003 Emma Trailblazers’ Award.


To self publish or not to self publish...

That is the question. As every writer now knows, the publishing industry is in flux. What is the “it” genre now? Have vampire love stories seen the end of their run? Are comic memoirs still bestseller material? Is there any space for contemporary Christian stories? What self-help is popular now? What are publishers really looking for? What if I just want to tell a story?

Why do writers write? Because they feel they have something important to say to their readers. Authors have worked long and hard on their books so, of course, they want good reviews and big sales. However, when it seems harder and harder to break into a big publishing house, what‘s a writer to do? Some are now looking toward self-publishing.

Time has proven that major publishing houses are wonderful places to launch, grow and maintain writing a career. This still holds true -- if you find a loyal and large following quickly. Publishing houses can do well what individuals find difficult to do on their own: edit the book, design the book, market and publicize and sell the book. Publishers have reach and influence and can make a new author a bestseller in months.

Self-publishing requires diligence, patience and energy. The self-published author must believe in her book and in her own potential. Fortunately, there are new technologies and services that allow writers to publish with much more ease. Outlets such as Amazon CreateSpace and Lulu.com offer packages that will take the writer from page to print. Publishing professionals (who have either been shuffled out or left to build their own companies) offer services that include editorial, marketing and do-it-yourself public relations. Options such as Print-on-Demand or E-books have eliminated the trouble of having 10,000 books for sale stored in your basement. Social media is an easy and cheap way of promotion. Spend a little money and the hard parts can be given to others who will make sure the book is the best it can be.

I have worked in many aspects of New York City publishing over the years. As an editor, I have often counseled my authors to take advantage of the professionalism that the House can provide; they could concentrate on their writing. Fortunately, I have also spent the last few years helping writers learn more about self-publishing. I have been amazed at how much easier it has become and am happy to refer writers to those who can assist in marketing and PR. The writers who decide to publish on their own end up very savvy about the business and themselves. That’s a priceless education.

I love this industry because I love the stories and experiences people share. Now there are so many ways to do so; there is nothing to stop a dedicated author. I’m excited about the technological possibilities that are on the horizon and the opportunities to create one’s own future. I believe we’re on the cusp of a new age of publishing. I look forward to seeing your next bestseller -- whichever way it comes.

5 comments:

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome back to Novel Spaces, Monica.

Wonderful article. Once the bastard child of the publishing world, self publishing is fast becoming a viable - maybe even necessary - option for both new authors and established, bestselling veterans of the industry.

Charles Gramlich said...

my one foray into self publishing worked well enough that I will probably do it again eventually. It may be a while though.

Carol Mitchell said...

I have only experienced one side of the coin, self-publishing. I have to say that although I love the flexibility and independence, I would definitely like to pass the marketing and PR job off to a third party!

BamaTrav said...

I have a very good writer on my blog following. Idigo, you should give her a looksie, her blog is "shattered prose" good stuff. She is in the process of writing a novel so I don't hear much out of her, she has to be jolted loose from time to time.

Farrah Rochon said...

Great seeing you back here at Novel Spaces, Monica. The publishing world is drastically changing, and at a rapid pace. It will be interesting to see how all of this looks in the next couple of years.