Today, however, publishing your own work is a brilliant opportunity for writers of novels and poems, thanks in huge measure to the current pervasive "indie" movement. It is also thanks to the fact that publishers could downsize your manuscript, print it on inferior paper, and put little energy into promoting it.
True, a good publisher or agent might do all the marketing legwork for you, and they might reach a wider audience, but there is no guarantee. I know authors who were exhilarated to be signed on by an agent, only to be blatantly ignored thereafter, as if they had become merely an item in their agent's collection.
The agent/publisher situation for poets is even more dubious. Finding an agent who will represent a poet is very difficult, and approaching a publisher without an agent is usually a futile endeavor. I did consider the agent/publisher route, until it became apparent that, as a poet, I would derive no benefit from either.
As a self-published writer, I am able to control the process, the product, and its distribution. I enjoy the freedom to price my work at a more reasonable rate in order to get it out there. I get to choose who edits my book, and I have a huge say in whether I will comply with what I may consider a bad edit.
Self publishing also requires that one do the legwork in marketing and distribution. With such a wealth of social media available, this is proving to be easier and easier to do. Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads are just a few of the resources that I use, as well as the personal "word of mouth" technique.
As I noted in an earlier post, Adventures in marketing, other self published authors and poets can be an invaluable help in promoting your book. I joined a Facebook group of authors who I met at the Clockwork Alchemy Convention. I can promote my book there, read their work, ask advice, and share in the wisdom that we are all gleaning.
The San Francisco Writer's Conferences is also a wonderful resource. It is well attended each year by representatives from all aspects of the writing world. I met Dan Pointer, who is considered by many to be the grandfather of self publishing, at that conference. He wasn't feeling well at the time, and yet he spent hours answering my questions and listening to my concerns about self publishing.
I have also received tremendous help from Emily Thompson. Her generous and time-consuming work on my book cover art and interior design, as well as her insistence that I publish my verses, are what brought Echoes into being. I literally could not have done this without her. Having recently self published her novel, Clockwork Twist, she was well versed in teaching me these new ropes and accomplishing such a wonderful volume. Thank you, Emily!
As for my first self published book, Echoes, Neo-Victorian Poetry, it is prominently on display in a local shop, listed in many online venues, and will soon to be available in yet another local shop. To date, it has been purchased in England, as well as here in the States, and gifted in Europe. So, there you go.