If You’re Not a NY Times Best Selling Self-Published Author Right Now It’s All Your Fault! You didn’t buy my [insert name of product or service aimed at desperate self-published authors here].

Errr…I don’t really think that. But I’ve never been so glad of my fanfiction roots. But more on that later. First an observation.

We’re in a self-publishing bubble (I say that who self-publishes and whose last 8 book purchases were all SP authors—specifically Lindsay Buroker’s work. I’m addicted.)

Google keeps trying to sell me “Creative Services” that will make me a “Self-Publishing Success” for only $389. Another self-published author tried to tell me how I really need the program Scrivener (only $65!) A popular Self-Publishing ‘guru’ touting classes for marketing self-publishing said on her blog “being tired is no excuse not to be busy marketing!” (Her consulting services start at $300/hour).

The message is “Anyone can do it! All you need is our tools/services! And if you can’t do it it’s because you FAILED!” (Because our goods/services couldn’t possibly be at fault).

Want further proof?

Recently, I networked with an author who bought into a lot of these services. He’s spent a lot of money on cover design and professional editing for his book. He has built up a Google + following of 10K people. His book isn’t selling so well, despite an interesting premise. When I read it  I could see why. The POV shifted radically within single paragraphs. And then there were so many typos—I give self-published books a bit of a pass on those. I know how difficult it can be to get formatting down, especially for Kindle. But every other paragraph a tense shift?

He’s spent so much time on networking, events, and even editing, and no one told him, “Hey, you’ve got to clean up your grammar,” and “Your POV shifts that defy convention—not working here.”

Just like the profiteers during the real-estate bubble or the dot.com bubble, the self-publishing gurus telling everyone they “can make” it aren’t putting emphasis on the quality of the underlying asset.

…..I’m so glad I got my start in fanfiction…

It gave me a chance to hone my skills in a public forum. I picked up fans, but more importantly I picked up critics who like my work generally, but weren’t afraid to take me to task when I didn’t make sense, went out of character, or (gasp) just got boring.

So where do we go from here?

I’m still going to self-publish. I bought a home not at the peak of the bubble, but close to it. Why? Because I wanted a place to live and was counting on it being for at least 10 years. Now I want to write, specifically original fiction, and self-publishing is the best way for me to do that at this time.

Bubbles burst, but as long as inspiration still stirs me I’ll still be here when it does…and I’ll be a better writer for having done it.