The Hype Cycle: How Self-Publishers Will Survive

I’ve been reading a mass of articles lately about the “hype of self-publishing” and how the industry is currently in a peak of hype about the idea that anyone with an idea who can string sentences together can publish and be as big of a success as Amanda Hawking or John Locke.

There is a problem with this idea, and this problem just happens to be the title of my blog: “Writing is Hard Work”.

Seven years ago, blogging was the new “get rich quick scheme”.  It was new, everyone was doing it, and some people (few of them) became very rich doing it.  However, the hype on that medium soon faded, and now we have millions of people out there (like myself) blogging away.  I do not have any false hopes.  I know my blog reaches a select few right now, but with time (and lots of it) that will change.  I must keep at it, I must not give up, and I have absolutely no illusions about “getting rich” from my blog.  Frankly, I don’t really care about that.

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Let us look at this scale for a moment and plug in the current buzz over self-publishing.  Possibly we are at the top of the hype scale here and we are sailing along on the bliss of the idea that “everyone can publish if they just try.”  Let’s be realistic for just a moment.  Eventually this industry is going to reach the plateau of productivity.  How do writers who want to be successful and get noticed eventually ride the roller coaster of hype to productivity and survive?

The answer is hard work, careful editing, listening to criticism and education.  Only these writers will sail past the hype and come out on the other end successful. If you don’t believe me, take Cat Valente’s word for it. She’s a traditionally published author who tried self-publishing as well and has some very good advice for all of us.

Success, however, for a self-published writer on average will be 100 copies sold.  The miracle that happens in the sea of writers out there will be a best-seller.  I like miracles, but have only experienced a scant few of them in my lifetime.

My advice to you, budding novelist, is to knuckle down.  This hype wave will eventually ebb and when it does you will have to face the truth that your days of writing terrible prose are over if you want to survive it.  Stay in there, work hard, listen to criticism, and educate yourself in the craft of word-smithing.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

9 thoughts on “The Hype Cycle: How Self-Publishers Will Survive

  1. Blogs started slow, then EVERYONE started doing it. Same for self-publishing I guess. I want to start just writing for myself and any close friends, listen to their criticisms. If I finish it, then great! I might try to get it published properly, not self-published.

  2. So glad you addressed this! Along that vein are also the contests to get a first book contract by winning popular vote without anyone seeing your work. Rather annoying, really. Thanks for writing!

  3. I nearly threw a party when I sold one copy of my self published book can’t imagine what I would be like if I make it to 100!!!!
    But you’re so right, it always comes back to the good old Grindstone, I guess that’s how you tell the serious from the delusional HARD WORK!!

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