For the past few years, at every romance conference and chapter meeting, e-publishing has been the hot-button topic. It still is, but now talk is turning as well to self-publishing. I thought we'd spend the entire week discussing it, because there are so many different viewpoints out there. In fact, I have 2 chapter mates doing it now, as well as several NY Times bestselling authors I personally know about to roll into it.
See the picture at the top of this page? It is a beautiful, clear mountain lake. Pictures like that have sold millions of bottles of 'pure' water for years. But what if, floating in the middle of that lake, there was an oil slick? It wouldn't contaminate the whole thing, but you'd still probably refrain from purchasing that water ever again, right?
That's where I stand on previously unpublished authors self-publishing. It might work, but chances are that their work has never been published for a reason. Even if they hire an editor, it won't reach the level of professionalism necessary. People who purchase it will be disappointed, and begin to distrust e-books in general. Why ruin an entire genre because of hubris?
The other side of the coin are published authors deciding to self-publish for a variety of reasons, contract related or otherwise. They can be trusted to put out a reputable product. Self-publishing is an exciting opportunity for them to stretch their wings, or re-energize backlist titles.
If you self-publish before your manuscript is ready, the bottom line is that it will only hurt you. Bad reviews will be posted, things that will never go away and editors may stumble across. You'll pay out hundreds of dollars to an editor and copy artist, and may end up only making a fraction of that back. Where, exactly, is the up side to that?