I was kind of surprised to read that I was actually supposed to do this. Well, not this exactly, but my fancy jargony book about writing a dissertation said “you may also find it useful at this stage to set up and maintain a home page on the Internet so that others interested in your research problem can keep in touch with you” (Joyner, Rouse and Glatthorn 104). It took me way too long to find that quotation, but on the bright side I just reviewed around half of my reading assignments for the past month, so at least I’m doing something theoretically productive. I even speed-read, and now my middle finger is all inky.
My research problem is as follows:
“How is a new author to decide whether to self-publish or go through the more traditional process?”
Contained within that question are questions about the benefits and flaws of each, how the market has evolved to fit them, and how much work authors can do themselves on behalf of their books, whether to reach a wider audience or just avoid getting scammed. I’ve already browsed the internet to find a stronger focus, and have discovered a lot that I didn’t realize before.
I have to confess, I used to be pretty squarely against self-publishing, at least for those who didn’t already have experience from working through a publishing house. I’d read or heard of a number of self-published books that were only famous for being bad, having narcissistic authors or both, and had thus gotten the impression that all self-publishing was vanity publishing. I was wrong, which is great, but that doesn’t mean I now hate traditional publishing. Like Nathan Bransford said in a very good blog post, the rivalry is outdated at best. Authors can use both methods and combine their benefits for their work. My goal for this project is to determine what goes into each process, so that authors can compare them to their own circumstances and talents and make the best decision for their own books. That best decision, and success in general, can be hard to pin down. For the purposes of my project, I’m defining “success” as in “producing a book which you can look back on and be proud of.”
Now I’m starting to move on to the part of this project I’m more nervous about: firsthand research. I’ve already looked up a few people to interview, and I’m planning a general survey. Hopefully the individuals are interested in answering my questions, and I can get enough responses to the survey for it to be useful. I plan to host the latter here, and probably the interviews for anyone who’s interested, since I won’t be able to quote them in full in the paper itself.
Joyner, Randy L., Rouse, William A., and Glatthorn, Allan A. Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation. 3rd ed. London: Corwin, 2013. Print.