In brief, this isn't the dirty word it was even a few years ago. It's gaining credibility, slowly for certain, but steadily. I'll admit to being a tad bit bemused by the whole model -- and even more so by the dialogue swirling around it. Should an author ever consider putting his/her work "out there" for the world to see, sans agent, acquisitions editor, publishing house, marketing department, sales force, distributor, bookstore? Or should we in Christian fiction still consider this business model as little better than anathema?
If you're looking for solid answers, I haven't any. I may come to some, in time. Certainly I'm reading the recent posts on the ACFW loop with great interest. Authors I respect are turning to self-pubbing for: out of print books to which the rights have reverted; works for which there's a limited audience and a platform to give them presence; books that cannot and will not fit into mainstream Christian publishing no matter how excellent their content.
I have several books in the bottom drawer, which fall into this last category. One that I truly love has as its central theme domestic violence. Don't worry--it all happens off-screen, since it's told from the point of view of the man who tries to help an old female friend who's the survivor of this violence. An edgy story, probably, though I've tried to handle everything with grace, nothing gratuitously, and adhere to Christian morals. However, though I've run it by my agent, I've never tried to pitch it.
Will this ever be number one on a publisher's wish-to-acquire list? Probably not. I've mulled self-pubbing this one primarily, plus one or two others that are finished and ready, over time. They definitely won't fit in any Christian publisher with whom I'm connected or would like to be connected. I trust my agent when she says, "No sale," on these. But could they find their feet in a market without the traditional gatekeepers who protect us from the unusual, the edgy, the out-of-the-box?
No answer yet. I'm still mulling. If I decide one of these can fly, you'll be among the first to know. Sure wish I knew!