Self-Publishing – Dealing With Information Overload

When researching self-publishing and self-promotion it quickly becomes obvious that there’s a wealth of information out there. Although maybe “information” is the wrong term. Perhaps it’s fairer to say that there are a lot of words.

I’ve found that the sheer amount and diversity of opinions is overwhelming to the point of confusion. Not only that but the “signal to noise ratio” is very high; little of what’s written seems to offer any real hard facts. From what I can see, there’s no “secret” or clearly-defined approach to self-publishing – no magical spell that guarantees success, or failure. All I can do is make decisions and try to move forward. There – it’s easy!

Except we can become paralyzed by choices, especially when there are multiple decisions to make, and this often results in confusion (this is certainly true for me!). I don’t think that Miller’s Law is considered valid any longer, but recent studies do show that the more choices there are to consider, the worse our performance becomes. This is why advertisers routinely bombard us with as many “information points” as they can – to get and keep us confused so we can’t make rational decisions (if we acted rationally we’d likely not buy what they’re selling.)

The original meaning of “decide” seems to have been lost. Like many words it comes to us from Latin (decidere) and is composed of two parts. The first part de means “off” and the second comes from caedere – to cut. So that’s the trick to decision making: when you make your choice you need to forget about the things you’ve rejected and not waste further time on them. A mental cutting-off of alternatives and options that simplifies your choices to the point where you can handle what’s left.

This brings me back to self-publishing. Recently I’ve been debating whether to use a service like BookBaby to handle distribution of my ebook short-story collection or whether to do it myself. The various services available offer broadly similar packages but they are presented in such different ways that it’s difficult to understand which (if any) is best or suitable. I’ve decided to simplify things and not use these, but make the choice to do the work myself. Yes, it’s more work, but I think at this stage I need the control and also need to learn the process for myself. Later, I’ll be better equipped to determine which services will be useful (this is not a criticism of BookBaby’s offerings.)

Of course not every decision will be right and it also doesn’t mean that you can’t revisit a decision. Just keep moving forward and if you do choose to revisit one – make sure that you there’s a strong reason to do so.

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