Somebody once told me there was a stigma attached to self-publishing. Before I was told that, I had not felt any stigma or considered it to be a barrier towards DIY publishing. In fact, I was rather excited about the whole idea.
Stigma, in my experience, is what you feel depending on who you are talking to and what position you feel you have in relation to society. People don’t always intend to stigmatise independent authors, and how they decide to buy books is based on their definition of what constitutes a good book and this does not have to simply be the case of who the book was published by. Sometimes it is whether the reader has heard of an author or publisher, which makes the reader assume the books must have quality, either because of a well-known author or publisher was involved with its creation.
However, sometimes stigma is intentional, and it can make independent authors feel as if they are shunned or that nobody will accept them or their books because they were published independently. Behind the cloud of raw emotion the independent author may feel, there are often many reasons why people stigmatise others. Sometimes it’s by older-generation writers, who never had the chance or freedom to self-publish their writing as we do in this age; or those involved in the book business who were happy with the way books were published and refuse to adapt to the changing landscape of publishing, where unfamiliar authors crop up all the time in what could be seen as a disorderly system. Some authors who are traditionally published could be forced to compete with numerous independent authors for their readership, and they may be bitter about this.
What form does stigma take? In person, stigma can involve people ignoring you, acting as if you are not there, showing you the “cold shoulder”, or being abrupt with you if you politely ask them a question about books in general. Online it could involve a series of negative reviews that don’t appear to be constructive, triggered by jealously or with the aim of crushing the competition so that only group-approved books become successful.
In my three and a half years as an independently published author, I have not come up against nearly as much stigma as I have friendly competition from other independently published authors. There are book-zones I am wary of, which aren’t typically as accessible to independent authors, and if I was going to approach one of these zones I would have to be more careful. On that same note, when promoting yourself, you should always be careful with your approach regardless.
Is self-publishing stigma still valid, or is it now nonsense?