Sunday, June 28, 2015

Jeffrey Archer on self-publishing


“Self-publishing is a complete waste of time and money, said bestselling British author Jeffrey Archer, while getting up, close and personal with his admirers at the Sharjah International Book Fair on Wednesday.”  
“It doesn’t work, don’t do it. The only person who reads it is the person who gets it published,” he said. 
 When a member of the audience pointed out that he wrote a book, published it as well as marketed it and sold 100,000 copies of the book, the literary icon said, “You can get lucky, but only one in a million get this chance.”

The self-publishing “debate” attracts zealots on both sides. Both groups of zealots are wrong, seeing the question as a false dichotomy.

Sometimes self-publishing makes sense, sometimes it doesn't. It all depends on the author’s platform, the type of book(s) he or she writes, and the author’s entrepreneurial skills and inclinations.

I’ve gotten rather tired of reading self-publishing manifestos that condemn the entire mainstream publishing industry as a pack of sclerotic dinosaurs. The traditional publishing industry has its flaws, but it is simplistic to dismiss them en masse. They continue to successfully market a lot of books, and to make a lot of money.

It is equally silly to assert that an entrepreneurial approach simply “doesn't work”—when there is ample evidence to the contrary.

Archer, though mainly known as a traditionally published author, successfully self-published a book (as the article notes) himself. Do as I say—not as I do.

The future of the publishing industry will consist of a mix of both strategies, with some authors (like Archer, for example) moving back and forth between the two.


This isn’t a religious debate, and we should not try to make it one.