I am a caveman. I started writing in the typewriter era. Eventually PCs and word processing arose. The gatekeepers remained, however. You were published only if an editor took a fancy to you.
Vanity publishing? That was just tawdry. There was something genuinely vain
about it. It was, as well, far too much a capital venture
. You were essentially starting your own business.
Come the internet and self-publishing, though, and all those tales that had been typewritten — and turned back at every gate — could now be easily brought to the masses. Process your words, JPEG some cover, PDF the lot, and upload to some platform like Lulu or Smashwords or Amazon. Easy peasy — and barely a cent invested.
Yes, you still had to market
your work. So what? That's fine. The internet lets everyone market himself. It is the era of the self! The lowliest soul can have a global presence.
In other words: You are no longer assaulting a few well-defined gates. You are instead trying to shout the loudest in the loudest cacophony ever.
Boy, you had better be able
to sell yourself, and hard. Unfortunately I am a caveman. I really don't like leaving my cave. My self-published works remain unread, stored in some drawer in the cloud.
I'm not complaining about the need to self-market. Self-publishing rather reasonably entails self-marketing. My point is that, having failed to self-market (because frankly I am far too self-conscious to promote myself aggressively), my works have been published in vain — and they can never be published by anyone else.
They are dead. I have euthanized them.
No magazine takes reprints of stories — and self-publishing, it turns out, counts as printing. Hell, I've come across magazines that won't take a story you posted on your blog
. Magazines are jealous beasts. The gatekeepers persist.
I naively thought that self-publishing was not final
. "Hey, if this doesn't work out, I'll slink back to the slushpiles." Right? Well, maybe I
can slink back, but my self-published stories are now mired in Amazon. They're done for.
Take heed, young writer. Until you have demonstrated that you can truly market a work, keep every other story in that desk of yours. Your art must be untainted by publication if you want it taken up by others.
I will never self-publish again.