You’re leaving a cocktail party where you just spent the evening talking to two men.
One of them is a HarperCollins-published author, and the other has an online business where he writes a blog and self-publishes ebooks.
If you were asked which one of these men impressed you the most, what’s your natural inclination?
I’d say the man who writes for one of the top U.S. book publishers would probably be the winner.
Social status and finance aside, on a basic level, the traditionally published author grabs your attention because his work is validated—it got a gold seal of approval from a publishing company.
Simply put, self-publishing is still looked down upon because anyone can do it.
Earlier this week I wrote a guest post, “7 Convenient Writing Secrets that Create Buzzworthy Online Content,” for E-junkie’s blog, and it got me thinking about self-publishing.
E-junkie makes it easy to sell products online, and I’ve used the platform to sell my ebook for two years.
From a tweet to a blog post to your Web sites’s landing page, any online content produced by one person is essentially self-published. You don’t have a team to correct your mistakes, highlight what you need to improve, and guide you in the right direction. You publish your thoughts for the public to see without a strict, formal review process.
However, everything that you write online is a potential headline. Are you ready to accept your headline’s consequences?
Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) knows this all too well now.
A cell phone camera and a Twitter account allowed him to create and publish the crotch shot heard ’round the world.
Self-publishing takes on a whole new meaning in this case. But here’s the part that intrigues me the most.
Weinergate is both an example of why people look down on self-publishing AND why they shouldn’t.
First, I’ll expand on my claim that self-published writing is looked down upon because anyone can do it. It’s true. There are plenty of resources to help you not only self-publish blogs, ebooks, and ecourses online, but that also enable you to self-publish books, magazines, reports, etc. offline.
Many people don’t trust self-published content due to a lack of accountability. How do you know that a book is accurate, useful, or interesting?
Without the approval of a respected publishing company, it’s difficult to take a self-published writer seriously. Is any individual using Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress really an author?
Now, let’s take a look at Congressman Weiner’s self-publishing scandal.
Weiner is, metaphorically, the HarperCollins-published author.
He’s the guy in the validated, respectable position that mere mortal citizens are conditioned to value and take seriously. There’s no need to debate whether Weiner’s actions are a big deal or not—it’s beside my point—but his wife can’t be too happy about the situation. Would you want your husband sending sexually explicit photos to other women?
His behavior conflicts with his marital status and his job as a congressman, a position that American society is taught to respect.
Here’s what you have to remember.
There’s a lot of traditionally published crap, too.
You can’t treat all traditionally published content as superior. The value of content varies no matter how it is published.
If you’ve got something valuable, authentic, and thoughtful to say, there are other ways to spread your message. You can also use your industry’s experts to get the validation that potential readers look for without going through a publishing company.
In future articles, I’ll concentrate on specific techniques to help you review your work so that it attracts the respect it deserves.
Self-published content can be impressive, but your writing has to be cohesive, concise, and professional.
My aim is to make your self-published writing exceptional.
Stefanie Flaxman created Revision Fairy® Small Business Proofreading Services with your editing needs in mind.