Jon Gibbs (jongibbs) wrote,
Jon Gibbs

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Is self-publishing your work the same as making a demo tape?

I was going to post about something completely different today, but then I read this post, Self-publishing: Your Demo Tape, by my friend, Geoff Haney. In it, Geoff makes the interesting suggestion that a self-published book can act in the same way as a musician’s demo tape.

I understand the analogy, but I think it hurts the argument rather than helps it. To me, the demo tape equates to that 'best possible draft' all writers should aim to have prepared before they even consider pitching their novel to an agent. It's not meant for public consumption (though I know from my Gentleman Jones days that it's hard not to share it with people who want to hear it – and many a poor soul who doesn’t).

As I’ve said elsewhere, while it’s not for me, I've nothing against self-publishing, and I agree with Geoff 100% when he says that much of the promotional work now falls on the author's shoulders. 

However, I don't agree with the idea that the 'Gate Keepers' are blocking my (or anyone else's route to success). I see the agents and publishers as assessors. Their job is to look for work which they think has market potential.  I imagine it's rare indeed that they get pitched something which can't be improved.

I was delighted when Echelon Press offered me an e-book contract for Fur-Face, but I wouldn't have accepted if they hadn't planned to help me edit and revise the novel before publication. The draft I sent them was the best I could do, but it was still a 'demo-tape'. I'm still working with Jenny (one of Echelon’s wonderful editors), but Fur-Face is already a far more polished novel than it was before.

The way I see it, the hardest part of writing is learning the stuff you don't even realize you don't know, and that's where the traditional process (with a good publisher) becomes vital. 

 It’s clear from some of the comments on the self-publishing post I made last month that there’s a market for self-pubbed work, particularly graphic-novels, but for regular novels? I just can’t see it, and I don't see how it can help you get an agent/traditional publisher more quickly (though I've no doubt there are exceptions).

Mind you, while I don’t think a self-pubbed novel makes for a worthwhile demo tape, I’m all for posting flash and micro fiction on your website, though just like with any demo tape, you want to make sure it’s the best you can make it (and in the case of fiction, preferably sell it somewhere else first).

How about you?

 Can a self-pubbed novel or story make a good demo tape?


Can a self-pubbed novel or story make a good demo tape?

Not sure
Something else, which I'll mention in a comment



Tags: fiction, writing

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