Self-Publishing is a term which most authors will now have heard of, for unknown authors it can be a much cheaper and easier way to get work published. However, there is a wide-spread rumour sweeping across the book world that there is a big divide between publishers and self-publishing, especially in regards to children’s publishing. For some, they disagree that you can self-publish a quality, illustrated, children’s book to the same high specification as that of a professional publisher. There is a certain element of truth to this and it is no doubt arguable that a author might have to compromise on quality if they were to self-publish. However, the author behind the recent self-published bestseller The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep, Carl Ehrlin, recently exclaimed that he didn’t think the children’s book world should fear self-publishing.
Although self-publishing can seem threatening for publishers, Ehrlin emphasised that children’s publishers shouldn’t fear the new popularity in self-publishing, as both a self-publisher and a publisher are trying to do the same thing, to create interesting and exciting new content. Ultimately, they both have the same goal; to create great books. Therefore, maybe self-publishing isn’t really an enemy, perhaps it should be embraced, instead of fearing it, isn’t it better to engage with confidently? Ehrlin is very positive about the experience he had with self-publishing, he found it allowed him to connect and feel close to his readers. But at the same time he also recognises the need for a publisher. Now his book has become a bestseller, Ehrlin has been signed by many agencies and publishers across the world, and more recently by Penguin Random House UK. Striking a deal with big publishers such as this will take Ehrlin’s work to the next level, a more experienced typographer will be able to give the book a new look and more professional finish with better quality print and paper.
What is important about this partnership, is that it shows that although self-publishing is a fantastic method for getting unknown work published, if the book does become a success there is only so far you can go without needing help from a bigger publisher. Translations, distribution, re-prints and publicity all become easier with help from professionals, and although Ehrlin has been vocal about the fact he would self-publish again, he also knows he needs partnerships with companies such PRH to turn his book into a worldwide bestseller.
Taking Ehrlin’s example into consideration, I don’t think it can be fair to call self-publishing the enemy, nor do I think publishers should fear it, what I do think is correct is that they both compliment each other. Instead of running away from self-publishing and claiming it won’t work for children’s books, it could be more beneficial to engage with content arising in the wake of self-publishing. We shouldn’t fear it, there are great books out there and although it might be a break away from the norm, I think engaging in this new medium for publishing could be very advantageous for publishers.