So I'm talking to a friend about publishing, and a friend of a friend's friend (FFF) slides in--you know the scene, where an intimate conversation is interrupted by the scurrying intrusion dance of a damn conversation hacker--and my friend, whom I'm trying to convince to submit his amazing fiction manuscript to an agent, hears these words from the FFF's dung hole: "Why bother submitting. Publish it yourself."
And so my friend is exposed to the worst possible advice. FFF pulls his self published novel out of his backpack and flashes it like gold. Nevermind the tacky cover which FFF likely asked his kindergarten niece to whip together in Photoshop. Nevermind the typo I discover on page 1 while flipping through the book as FFF regales my friend about the reasonable costs of self publishing. Nevermind that FFF brags of having sold hundreds of copies of his novel.
"Hundreds?" I ask. I glance at the copyright page. The book was self published in 2007. Hundreds across two years is nothing. Hundreds means your friends and family bought all the copies.
"It's so easy to do," FFF says.
At this point I fight to restrain the great heaping pile of stinking truth I want to throw at this FFF. Idiot! You paid to have no readers. You paid to showcase a poorly written and edited novel. You paid to humiliate yourself merely so you can go up to friends of friends and say you're a published author.
But I restrain all that. My friend glances at the FFF book and hands it back, wishing FFF the best of luck with his novel. FFF wanders off to find others to dazzle with his authorial shine.
Right then, I decide if my friend even hints that he's considering self publishing for his manuscript, I will strike him down. I will beat him bloody until some sense--or fear of self publishing--enters his head. But I shouldn't have worried. People who can actually write amazing stories and novels know the self publishing score. Yes, it's good for some things, but don't pretend self publishing takes the place of landing your book with a good publisher.
"So," my friend asks. "Know any good agents?"