One of the most exciting changes to the publishing industry is the author’s ability to self-publish. Granted, not all self-published books are created equal, but having the opportunity to expose the world to your work without going through a rigorous approval process can make the difference between success and failure.
Advances in self-publishing has taken the practice farther than just paying a small independent press to publish your book. Authors now have all the avenues presented to them by the internet to get their voices heard. One shinning success of self-publishing is fantasy author Nikki Kelly. Instead of going through a publishing house, she uploaded her work to a website called Wattpad.
Lailah by Nikki Kelly
Wattpad boasts an impressive 25 million member user base who have collectively spent over 41 billion minutes actively using the site. After posting Lailah, Kelly’s romantic drama about a girl caught between vampires and angles, she attracted almost 2 million readers to her work. This put Kelly way ahead of the curve- before her book had been printed, she had a huge fan base, thanks to her decision to self-publish on Wattpad.
After successfully self-publishing Lailah, she was offered a three-book deal with Feiwel and Friends. This kind of success opens the doors for aspiring writers who feel like the traditional publication methods won’t work for them.
Even without sites like Wattpad, social media platforms (twitter, facebook, tumblr, reddit, and many more) allow writers to get their work in front of reading eyes, for free. At that point, the readers have the freedom to decide whether or not they think the work is good. If people think it is good, the writer will gain a clean, organic following that can be used to accelerate their careers to unimaginable proportions.
Consider how this can affect important issues in our society today. Let’s say an outspoken member of the Black Lives Matter movement wanted to publish a controversial book about the nature of police brutality in America. The major publishers would likely turn it down in an attempt to remain neutral, to avoid conflict, or worse, to exercise a bias. With self-publication, the only thing that is stopping them is the potential that their work just isn’t good.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
The best example of giving power to minority voices is the publication of The New Jim Crow. Published by the non-profit independent publishing house The New Press, the book was able to gain mainstream acclaim without going through traditional routes. Before we judge an author based on their publisher, remember that the only way too truly judge a book is by reading it, so, what are you waiting for?
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