Saturday 10 April 2010

Self-publishing silliness

I've been posting about my experiences at Eastercon, from the people I met to a lecture on swordplay for writers. The con was tons of fun, but an incident in the bathroom made me sigh and shake my head.

Get your mind out of the gutter! What happened was that as I sidled up to the urinal I was confronted with an ad. Not the usual ad for a TV show or safe drinking, but one for an obviously self-published fantasy novel. I looked across the row of urinals and saw one stuck to the wall above each one. A desperate self-publisher did the same thing at last year's London Book Fair.

Being curious, I took the urinal ad and checked the URL. Yep, self-published, and according to the Amazon rankings the second and third books in the series hadn't sold anything, at least on Amazon. The first book had a ranking of six million, meaning it had sold one copy, (probably to the author's mother) a few years ago. Even my London guidebook, which has been out of print for almost a year, has a ranking of 1.5 million. My book on medieval handgonnes, which doesn't come out from Osprey until October, has a ranking of 142,000 thanks to preorders. That's what a good publisher can do for you.

I've written before about how self-publishing is more often than not a pitfall for writers. It almost never leads to fame or big sales. And with the kind of associative advertising these jokers engage in, it only leads to ridicule.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. I tend not to take photos in public restrooms.


Isa McKechnie said...

Isn't blogging a form of self-publishing? If so - hahaha - the joke is on you! Greetings from another midlist writer who knows the pitfalls of self-publishing all too well and welcomes you to CouchSurfing and the writers group in particular.

Sean McLachlan said...

Yes and no. I consider it half a diary, and half self-promotion. Plus nobody is about to buy my blog posts. :-)
Aha! a fellow CouchSurfer! Nice to meet you! If you come to Madrid I'll be happy to show you around. I can even bring you to our writers group.

Isa McKechnie said...

Nobody is about to buy your self-published books, either, apart from your mother ;)

Shameless self-promotion, I like it. The internet is a beautiful place for creating an image of yourself, which is perhaps a lot more static and less dynamic than the real you, but certainly more visible and available to a broad audience.

Madrid! I've heard of that place. Was struck pretty hard with unemployment recently - 20%!

Say hello to your small child for me. Is it of any age or gender? (not specified on your CS profile!)

Sean McLachlan said...

Yes, Madrid is a terrible place to find work. I'm glad I'm a freelancer!
Julián is four years old. He likes football, planes, cars, trucks, tractors, zeppelins, and silent slapstick comedy films. Oh, and poop jokes.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.