Is the self-publishing stigma still alive?

I’ve begun to seriously consider self-publishing a full-length collection of my poetry. With ebooks on the rise and the print-on-demand possibilities that abound, it seems like as good a time as ever to self-publish. But I hesitate because poets I respect have told me to wait it out until I can obtain a traditional publishing arrangement. I understand their view, of course. As a newspaper editor, I see so many self-published works that never should have seen the light of day or that come heartbreakingly close to sufficient if only the author would have hired an editor or even just had a friend look the manuscript over.

Even in light of poetry’s long tradition of self-publishing, subpar writing and amateur presentation is the assumption today.  But more often, I’ve been reading about poets, actual poets, who go the self-publishing route, either full-on or for a niche book of some sort.

In my case, I have a manuscript that has been evolving for a dozen years or so. I have entered many contests and submitted to many presses, and have come close to an acceptance a couple of times. More than 20 of the poems have appeared in various publications, which I think speaks to the quality of the manuscript. I have a network of poets and writers to critique and edit the manuscript before I publish it, not to mention provide promotional blurbs.

When my chapbook, “Father’s Curse” (Foothills Publishing, 2007), came out, I had to purchase discounted copies to sell at readings and other events. I was and still am grateful to the publisher, who certainly deserves to make a profit, but the arrangement got me to thinking about the thin difference between traditional and self-publishing.  You can let someone else control your work, or you can do it yourself. Who do you think has the most motivation to promote your work?

For now, I’m still gathering feedback from my poet friends, but I’m pretty much set on going forward on my own. I’ve got the experience as an editor and the connections as a writer to put together a professional book that I can market and distribute on my own.


~ by ericedits on March 4, 2011.

3 Responses to “Is the self-publishing stigma still alive?”

  1. Of all the people I know who are interested in self-publishing you are the only one I would encourage to do it because I think you would do a great job! If you have a good product you’re half way there. The second half (I think) is self-promoting. Gotta push, push, push that book! I have a friend/writing coach whose blog I follow ( The blog is almost all about self-promotion. Good luck!



  2. Thanks, Crystal. Too kind. Now, a day after all but declaring my intentions, I’m getting feedback from poet friends that has me rethinking again. The prestige factor inherent in the traditional publishing process may be insurmountable. “Self publish for family and cookbooks,” they say.


  3. […] of politics, poets question the value of self-publishing and art hangs in the Market. Grab yourself a hot cup of coffee and listen to Corey’s […]


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