I’ve been following the print-on-demand (or self-publishing) issue for several years, watching as self-publishing has become (more) legitimized, and always with a bit of amusement given that some of the most revered authors in literature were self-published (ex: Virginia Woolf and Walt Whitman). What troubles me is that the “jury” still seems to be out on the value and virtue of self-publishing. For everyone who argues that self-publishing is a legitimate venue (but with the caveat that the author must invest the appropriate resources of editing and marketing), there is another who argues that the only legitimate way to authorship is through the usual line-up: agents, editors, publishing houses. Maria Schneider from Writer’s Digest wrote an interesting and link-worthy column about self-publishing, which you can find here. She recommends that a writer ask herself these questions before going with POD: (1) “What’s your goal?”; (2) “Are you a good self-marketer?”; and (3) “Have you done the research?”
I know that I would not be a good self-marketer. I can barely convince myself that anyone outside my very small and tight circle of friends and family would be interested in my writing (and I’m not always too sure about a few of them). But I do get frustrated with the waiting game: submitting a story and then waiting weeks, maybe months before getting any response. And this is even when I use electronic submissions. Which is probably why I like entering contests, even if I have to pony up a submission (or reading) fee: at least I’ll know by when I should get a response.
I would be really interested in hearing about your experiences with POD, or even just your thoughts on the whole issue. I keep thinking about Woolf and Hogarth Press, the idea of believing in yourself so much that you just go ahead and publish your own work, d**n the publishing house gatekeepers.