Stephen King faced over two dozen rejections before he was able to sell his first novel, Carrie, to a publisher. Frank Herbert faced the same problem with Dune. But those were the ancient days of the 20th century when using publishers was the easiest way to get you book in readers hands. There was self-publishing–Beatrice Potter self-published 250 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit—however, true success would only come through major publishing companies. Thankfully, self-publishing in the 21st century is a little different.
Today, self publishing is ridiculously easy. Through the use of Print-on-Demand (POD) websites like Lulu.com and Createspace.com, anyone can self publish a book. The process is not limited to novels; you can use Blurb.com to create photography or picture books. If your interest is less stiff book and more floppy pamphlet, use Magcloud to create your own magazine.
The greatest feature that POD offers is affordability. These companies don’t charge money to upload or store the book’s files, they only ask from money when they print a book. The neat thing about that is that it’s possible to print one book at a time. This means a writer doesn’t have to print 1000 books at a time and store them until they’re sold. Each copy is printed when it’s bought.
And these services aren’t just for amateurs; established writers are also using them. Guys like Warren Ellis, Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (yeah, the guy from Stand by Me and Star Trek: TNG) are dipping their toes into the POD pool to see what all the fuss is about.
These technological innovations make the gap between author and reader smaller and smaller. Keep in mind that it’s still a relatively new service, so all the bugs haven’t been worked out. And just selling a book on the sites won’t make you an overnight phenomenon. But if you just want a copy of your novel to go on your bookshelf, this is a great thing.