Christopher Wright on Why Self Publishing Gets a Bad Rap

Hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend! Now that September’s arrived, we’re working hard to make sure we can release the official BookWorks website before the end of the month. In the meantime, though, we’re going to launch into a more regular blogging schedule here to give you news and opinions on self publishing — and if this isn’t enough, we also regularly update our Twitter and Tumblr, so check those out as well!

Obviously we at BookWorks are interested in the continued growth of the self-publishing community, but sometimes it’s worth checking out some of the problems with this increasing trend to get a feel for what can be improved. Author Christopher Wright has a very good article the current state of self-publishing, which can be found in its entirety here on (warning: there’s some offensive language!).

What could be such a compelling argument against self-publishing that it convinces even us to take notice, though? Is it something to do with the way that self-published e-books are typically priced? A plea for stricter editing standards? A concern about the market potentially overflowing with romance novels and first person science fiction YA trilogies?

Nope. Apparently, it’s that “Writers are bug-f**** crazy.”

While Wright calls himself “solidly in the self-publishing camp,” he’s come across many examples of self-published authors not being able to deal with their audiences directly in a healthy way. As he puts it:

I know there are writers out there who have a handle on it, and who manage to convince the world at large that we’re not. But too many in the self-publishing world are letting this secret slip, and it’s going to ruin us as a whole. Without having our public interactions managed by a publishing company, without putting a general buffer between the writer and the rest of the world, it’s just too damn easy for the writer to show all his or her ugly bits.

Ultimately his conclusion is that in order to be successful as a self-published author, Wright has to basically denounce the rest of the medium because of the occasional weirdo who, for example, decides to stalk a negative reviewer, or who has a large public meltdowns over bad reviews, or who even uses fake “sock puppet” accounts on Amazon to give themself heaps of 5-star reviews (although it isn’t just self-published writers who do this — as the Telegraph reported recently, Bestselling British crime writer RJ Ellory recently admitted to faking reviews on his Amazon page as well). This is pretty common for a good chunk of the successful self-published authors, who tend to distance themselves from the medium they’re working in as soon as they’re able to make a living from it.

So what’s the lesson from all of this for the authors who, like Wright, are capable enough to handle the occasional bad review? (Or even more pressingly, what’s the lesson for the authors who know they can’t handle it?) Is it worth it for new writers to hire someone to take care of their PR and marketing? Do you have to already benefit from a large fanbase in order to set yourself apart from the crowd? Wright doesn’t provide any answers, but we think it’s worth beginning a discussion about how best to keep your ego in check — writers are only human, after all! — and how to tap into the resources that a self-published community can provide while still making sure that certain behaviors aren’t encouraged.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!


One thought on “Christopher Wright on Why Self Publishing Gets a Bad Rap

  1. Self-Publishing is really Self-Promotion, (with a bit of writing on the side). The 80/20 Pareto principle really kicks in, in this industry. To get your book out there, you need to spend 80% of your time on promotion, replying to emails, getting the book properly edited, building a following and so on. And then 20% of the time actually doing the thing you love, writing books.

    I think many writers can get a handle on the ‘writing’ bit, given time and space to work on their craft. However, only a relatively few can get a real handle on the rather more overwhelming promotion side of things.

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