authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

How my cab driver helped me remember why self-publishing is so great for authors.

A simple conversation with a cab driver reminded me that self publishing is about opportunity and choice. Who is against that?

My meetings were finished so I grabbed a cab to the airport.  I returned all my calls and traffic was at a standstill so I struck up a conversationwith my cab driver.  We didn’t really talk about what I did, but I asked him when his shift started and how long he had been driving a cab. He told me he started at 5:00 am, but went to class in the middle of the day. He had moved to the U.S. five years ago from another country where he was a lawyer and was now trying to get his law degree here. That fascinated me so I asked why would he trade a legal career in another country to drive a cab for years with no assurance he would become a lawyer here. His answers were sincere, refreshing and a great reminder of what democracy means to people. When I told him that I worked in self publishing, he quickly pointed out how that would not be possible if democracy wasn’t the rule of the land.  It was simple, but profound and so I thought about what he said about democracy and realized he was right. Here are some of his quotes followed by my thoughts on how it applies to self publishing

  1. “This is a country of great opportunity”. From his perspective, you could be a cab driver one day, but the opportunity exists for you to be a lawyer the next. It is not guaranteed, but it is possible. In his opinion, no other country offers that as freely as the U.S.   Maybe that is why self-publishing was birthed in North America and more specifically in the U.S.  We are a country that still believes in opportunity. An author can be unknown one day, and reach a wide audience the next. Publishing used to be an aristocracy, but now it is a democracy.
  2. “With opportunity comes possibility”. I have been saying for some time, this is absolutely the best time in history to be an author. Not that long ago if you had a manuscript, your only hope was to get an agent to notice you, and then pray a publisher would pick you up. Now you can still pursue that path of traditional publishing, but you can also use DIY publishing solutions like Booktango or any number of assisted self publishing imprints from a company like Author Solutions to help you get your book published. So instead of walking to the mailbox and pulling out another rejection letter, you can pull out a copy of your book.

The critics of self publishing argue that bad books get published or that authors get taken of advantage of with false hopes of becoming a best seller. I think they are missing the point. Self publishing is about opportunity and choice.

  1. “My five year old son could be president”. With opportunity and possibility come the chance to dream big. In this case, the cab driver said his son, who was born in the US, could grow up to be president one day. In his native land, that isn’t something a parent or child might even think about. As an author, self-publishing makes it possible for you to become a best selling author. It is not guaranteed, but the opportunity and possibility exist. Take Bronnie Ware for example. She lives outside Brisbane, Australia and self published with Balboa Press. Her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying became a topic of world-wide interest. She eventually got a traditional publishing contract and is impacting people throughout the world with her book. Would she have been able to publish through a traditional publisher. Maybe. But how long would she have to wait to see that happen.
  2. “There are some unqualified candidates that run for office, but at least they have a chance to run”. You can probably tell by now, this was not your average cab driver.  We talked politics and he made the point that in America everybody has a chance to run for office. Many candidates are not qualified and spend lots of money only to lose the election. But to him that is not the point. The point is they have the opportunity to run. I think the same thing can be said about self-publishing. There are some “unqualified” books that get published, but the greater good is that every body now has the opportunity to publish.

The critics of self publishing argue that bad books get published or that authors get taken of advantage of with false hopes of becoming a best seller. I think they are missing the point. Self publishing is about opportunity and choice. There is no Rasputin-like spell that has been cast over authors that make them pick a particular publishing option. They choose of their own free will and now they can do it for free using DIY solutions or pay for services to help them accomplish their goal. This is truly the best time in history to be an author!

I have to be honest. In the past, I would have been irritated to sit in traffic that long, but I am grateful for my conversation today. It reminded me of two things I know, but sometimes can lose sight of. First,  even with the challenges we have in our country, this is still one of the greatest places to live. Second, even though there are naysayers, self-publishing is the best thing to happen to authors since Gutenberg’s press.

So if you have a manuscript, take advantage of the amazing opportunity you have as an author today and make the choice that makes sense for you and get your book published.

….even though there are naysayers, self-publishing is the best thing to happen to authors since Gutenberg’s press.

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