It seems publishers are beginning to look to self published authors for their next talent. This is great news for self published authors waiting to be discovered. But look just below the surface of these claims and you discover that publishers are looking for self publishers who have achieved good sales of their self published books. So they seem to be using successful self published authors as a way of reducing their exposure to risk.
Read Alan Rinzler’s blog about this here
I’m a pretty incompetent publisher. I’m a fairly incompetent marketer. I’m a completely incompetent publicist. When it comes to being a self publicist I’m a total arse! I am a self publisher.
I can’t phone up a venue to say I’d like to do a book promotion for my own book because I feel like they will think I’m a wannabe, unable to find a publisher because I’m crap. I know that’s not the case but it’s what’s going through my mind. During the brief time when I had a publicist I did readings, signings, all sorts, and I had a great time. Having somebody else to represent you gives you credibility. I can do all the web promotion, social networking, all that’s easy. When I started I chose a pen name so I could pretend to be a second person when I was acting as my publisher. That way I might disguise the fact that I was self published. It didn’t really help much because what I really needed was another team member.
I’m a writer, I’ve been writing for twenty years, mostly corporate or technical content with some copywriting and a bit of journalism thrown in for good measure. Now I’m trying to break into a new field, writing popular mass market comic fiction.
Saying that publishers are going to judge the potential of a self published book on sales seems ludicrous. I know these are businesses but, surely, when a manuscript lands on their desk they judge it on the manuscript. It’s got potential or it hasn’t. Expecting self published books to show fantastic sales is just saying that they only what to publish books by business gurus. I write deeply absurd comic fiction with philosophical themes that make people laugh out loud on the train. I know that’s true, my readers have told me so. But I don’t have tens of thousands of readers out there because I have no way of reaching the mass market. Even blogging and tweeting isn’t going to bring you to the level that the industry are looking for as people follow bloggers when they have whiff of success, rarely before. Plus some of the bigger on-line sellers list print on demand books as unavailable or out of print! The industry is actively blocking the one man bands.
Publishing insiders claim that there isn’t a wall around the industry. Saying that self published writers are welcome, then picking up one or two as an example to show how open the industry is, just means they have extended the wall to block a minor breach. The rest of us are still on the outside.
All the gurus recommend that you outsource the stuff that you cannot do expertly yourself.
I think you've answered your own question when it comes to 'Should I have a publicist?' They have the contacts and they don't have your shy retiring nature when it comes to blowing your trumpet for you.
I know we all want to save money but, as you said, you need another team member. It's not just about ability, it's about time and the more time you're trying to self-publicise, the less you have to actually produce your own work.
Not only that but publicists have the contacts who will help you get in with the publishers.