Self publishing has been around as long as there has been publishing. There has always been a niche for those who for any number of reasons can’t or don’t want to publish their media through third party channels. With the advent of the internet and technology, self publishing has become increasingly popular in recent years.
There are many different ways to self publish, including desktop, print (traditional media) and electronic publishing. Self publishers also have many reasons to employ alternative publishing methods to the traditionally accepted third party publisher. A desire to have something published and seen immediately is a popular example. It is also a new avenue media artists can explore in order to gain a better understanding of their craft through working through the different steps of publishing that they normally would not have contact with via traditional publishing.
Opportunities in self publishing vary widely. Media can be published to attract interest from traditional publishers, galleries, festivals, collectors and interested organizations. It can act as a sort of electronic calling card so that the media’s target audience can have a point of contact, examples of previous work and other information. Self publishing is also a popular method for those wanting to make a strong public statement.
By self publishing media electronically a new level of freedom and opportunity is provided for the artist. Traditional consumption and distribution models largely no longer apply in a world where information can be inexpensively published and disseminated instantly around the globe.
In times past, established publishers could largely slam the door on new ideas, but such limitations are all but gone as artists are more easily able to bypass traditional channels of publication. The downside to all this freedom is that the responsibility of actually getting media to the mass market is solely on the artist; additionally, ease of publishing has created a much larger number of artists in competition.
The internet, and it’s virtually infinite networking capabilities, is vital if you are to succeed in actually reaching significant numbers of your mass target audience. Using the tools mentioned in “Working with others”, networks can be built from scratch to encompass regional, national or international audiences. Further, the instantaneous nature of the internet provides a vehicle for the sort of rapid, quality feedback from peers and audiences that is lacking in more traditional publishing mediums.
By self publishing, the artist can maintain control over much more decision making as to the presentation and experience of the work. Without constraints imposed by third party publishers, it is possible to provide the work in exactly the form intended. Obviously, when the artist publishes the work directly, there is no additional input to alter the original work.
Self publishing is also much less expensive than traditional methods. By making use of new technologies such as Print On Demand publishing (POD), books can be printed in smaller numbers at an affordable price. POD prints books after receipt of the order, as opposed to the traditional method of pre-printing in mass-quantity.