If a self-published book can acquire a following, it has proven that it is marketable. How marketable of course is dictated by actual sales numbers, and these are going to be based almost entirely on the aggressiveness of the author related to his or her commitment to the story. As for clients of mine, if Mike Hartner hadn’t done all the legwork with B&N, and the managers of one store hadn’t been behind him and I, WALTER, I would never have been in a position to have the CSM at another B&N–cross-country from Mike’s home area–stock the book. Likewise, if James Babb hadn’t worked to get his book in his regional Arkansas school system, he and THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE would have never been showcased by a local TV station, and there would not be a movement afoot to have his book presented to Arkansas schools statewide.
I honestly believe that both books have an excellent shot at someday being signed by a major house. Hence, self-publishing is the perfect proving ground for material, and in my opinion there’s nothing developmental about it. And it certainly is no longer automatically the “D-League” in the sense of pertaining to substandard issue. The key is figuring out ways to get traction, and I want to suggest one method that doesn’t cost anything beyond a gallon or two of gas, and this is to make a visit to the local library.
A wonderful friend of mine was a library manager at the facility where I conducted writing workshops sponsored by the Palm Beach County Library System. Some years ago she mentioned to me, yes, at a time when I hadn’t yet embraced self-publishing as anything more than a hobby, that a writer with a self-published book would be allowed to provide a reading at her library and then sell the book afterwards to patrons in attendance. What I found even more exceptional was that the library would provide publicity, at its expense, for the author and the work.
I encourage any writer of self-published material to explore this option in your own community. I believe it’s fair to imply that the rules which governed Mike with B&N and James with the Arkansas schools will apply, in that the person in charge of the decision will have to like the book. Hence, while I’m not trying to sell professional editing, the material will need to be sound grammatically while at the same time providing a satisfactory reading experience.