Every writer experiences that moment: she walks into a bookstore, looks at the nearest display of whatever book is the “hot seller” that week, and wonders, “How can someone write something that bad and get published, but I can’t?” The publishing industry is known for being hyper-competitive and almost as fickle as the field of fashion design. With thousands of talented, unknown writers vying to get discovered, sometimes it seems like the answer to the question of “who gets a publishing deal this week” is as random, and as risky, as a game of Russian roulette. Writers seeking to take control of their careers and their lives need to re- evaluate the typical publishing cycle and consider whether or not self-publishing is a viable option.
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The collective response from those familiar with intellectual property rights has been a resounding, “So what?” Writers who self-publish have a distinct advantage over those who sign contracts: self-publishers retain the intellectual property rights for their work, which means they can keep their work, or sell it whenever they want. Traditionally published authors simply can’t; the publishing house gets all of the rights, while the author only remains entitled to future royalties, however stingy. Having control over a copyright can be a powerful bargaining chip, giving self-published authors who prove themselves their choice of publishers if they later decide to go the traditional route.
Publishing houses have the resources necessary to launch an effective marketing campaign for a newly published author. However, many authors lament the lack of backing they get from their publishers once their book goes to print, or may even disagree with a particular public relations angle for moral or strategic reasons. When self-publishing, the writer is the one who maintains control. The writer selects the venues, content, and target demographic, and decides what strategies will be most effective for reaching the readers she wants to reach. From blog entries to Twitter feeds, print ads, submissions, and book reviewers, writers can find new readers just about anywhere with a little time and some