Last year, Dan Poynter, the modern day grandfather of self-publishing, spent a few hours with Emily Thompson and me, sharing with us many of the facets of going indie, as well as a variety of reasons to do so. It was awesome.
At one point, he picked up a book from the seller's table and told us to examine the paper it was printed on, which was cheap newsprint. He told us how publisher might trim material from a book to keep their costs down.
Unfortunately, he had walking pneumonia at the time, and yet he refused to sit and rest rather than talk with us. This subject is important to him. Dan told us what had gotten him into self publishing such a long time ago.
As he told it, one of his college buddies had invited him to go skydiving. Dan fell in love with it and the next day, he went up twice. On the day after that he skydived three times. He couldn't get enough of it, and it didn't end there.
One day, he went into the shop where he rented his skydiving gear and asked if they had a book on the sport. The owner was surprised. No, they gave lessons, but they had never had a book on it in the shop.
So Dan went home and wrote a book about skydiving, and published it himself. Then, he went back to the shop with a small stack of his books and asked if they would mind keeping them on consignment for him.
At that time, self-publishing came with a stigma. It told people that your book probably wasn't any good. One needed an agent and a publishing house behind you. Dan had taken a very bold, calculated step.
A week later, he walked into the shop again. Right away, the shopkeeper came up to Dan and asked him if he had any more books. The shop had sold out of them and they had become very popular. His books kept selling out.
I owe Dan Poynter an immense amount of thanks for his encouragement and his guidance. He was so very generous of his time and knowledge, and I am hoping to see him again this year at the San Francisco Writer's Conference.