self-publishersWhile the pitchforks seem to be metaphorically raised toward self-publishing and its many proponents right now, there are groups and advocates leading the charge against the naysayers.

It seems the ongoing fight regarding the merits of self-publishing versus traditional publishing will be around for some time. And interestingly enough, Dr. Alison Baverstock, self-described as “a hugely experienced publisher, trainer and writer on all aspects of publishing, marketing and reading,” has recently wrapped up a study of self-publishers based on research she completed in conjunction with The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).

Dr. Alison Baverstock

ALLi posted a preview of the research last week on its Self-Publishing Advice blog. In it, Baverstock ticked off five points from the study, which hasn’t yet been made publicly available. Click here to read the full preview; an excerpt follows.

What I found [in my research] was in direct contrast to previously widely held assumptions about self-publishing authors. Our findings revealed that their motivations were more often connected to completion and future discoverability than money; that they enjoyed the process; that they would do so again and recommend it to others. And that it had made them happy.

That sounds greats. It really does.

I believe there are some self-publishers who feel that way, but I also think Baverstock hasn’t addressed the self-publishers I know who are frustrated that their book hasn’t sold well, and don’t have the time to market their work while simultaneously maintaining a full-time job and a household. The sense of completion is good, but of course there are also people who look for validity in what they do.

Of Baverstock’s points, my favorite was this:

2. Self-Publishers Take Responsibility
My definition of self-publishing is the taking of personal responsibility for the management and production of work. It doesn’t have to be for wider circulation, or even to make money, but the taking responsibility is crucial. This is brave. It’s also personally risky. Work made available is not always received in the same spirit as which it is shared.

I like this statement because it spins the way self-publishing is seen through the eyes of others.

Some don’t look at self-publishers as taking control of responsibility, but think of them more as people who couldn’t make it. Changing the way people look at self-publishing can be an important step is changing the general mindset of these authors.

Another point Baverman makes is that she has found self-published authors to be supportive of each other.

Whatever their starting point, they seem to be a remarkably supportive bunch. The personality of the writer has been investigated, and we are apparently notorious for jealousy; one person’s success necessarily being viewed as diminishing the opportunities of others – or as Gore Vidal so memorably put it: ‘Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.’

This sort of supportiveness is also something I’ve seen firsthand, as well as the jealousy alluded to in the quote. But I’m not sure either is limited to just self-published authors. Obviously, there is competition and people who want to succeed, but naturally, I’ve seen and heard traditionally published authors praising the work of their peers as well.

I look forward to reading the full study. I imagine it’s going to be a cheerleading type of piece based on the preview. But I wonder if it’s even needed, considering that the opposite viewpoint has been so widely spread over the last couple weeks.


  1. It sounds like she was addressing “successful” self-publishers. Perhaps those who don’t have the time to do the required legwork outside of their “real lives,” or who are only interested in monetary reward just aren’t that successful.

    Or perhaps those who are successful are no longer worried about their success and thus spend more time enjoying the satisfaction of completion.

    In either event, I don’t think a lack of addressing unsuccessful authors is really a failing if the topic of the study is “successful” self-published authors. Though perhaps it would be interesting to track currently unsuccessful self-publishers for a number of years to see how attitudes change as one _does_ become a success in publishing.

  2. The reality is that yes, there are sucessful self published authors who had books worth publishing. From my experince, most self-published authors self-publish books that were rushed, and needed more time to revise and clean up before even considering publication.

    The authors who put a reasonable ammount of work into their books, with an eye for detail and mechanics, do lend credibility to the process.

    But when authors self publish when the book wouldn’t be touched by any publisher, it justifys peoples mistrust of the system.

    The challange is how do you create a way for people to get their books to a publishable quality, so that self publishing can be a greater success overall.

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