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  The era of self-publishing has arrived. With the advent of the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad and other e-reader devices, authors all around the world have the opportunity to get their work out into the public eye. At last, there is a functional way to be published without the scrutiny of publishing houses, agents and paid-by-the-hour readers.

   Self-publishing has long been an option for authors but the realities of it were often too difficult to overcome. Self-publishing meant printing and binding and boxes in your dining room. It meant schlepping from bookstore to bookstore in an attempt to market your work. It came with a significant financial investment with little guarantee of recovery. But those days are gone. E-books and print on demand have changed the publishing industry and metamorphosed the entire literary world.

   As authors, no longer are we held to the whim of a faceless agent or unreachable publisher. No longer are we writing clever queries to capture the attention of an underpaid and bored screener. No longer do we send our work off only to get a rejection letter six months later. No one is going to be able to tell us that we aren't good enough, that our work isn't ready or they are just not interested.

   No! We now can publish whenever and wherever we want.

   OMG! Do you realize what that means?

   No, really, think about it. Do you realize what this means? It means that we alone are responsible for what we publish. We alone are responsible to maintain the professionalism and integrity of the literary industry. We alone must take total responsibility for the whole enchilada.

   Think about it. No one in the history of publishing has ever published a book alone. There have always been the guardians at the gate, the faceless agents, the unreachable publishers, the meticulous editors. It has always been their charge to maintain the professional integrity of the publishing world. Now, they have been eliminated, cut out, cast aside; well, almost. While the publisher is out of this picture and the agent has little or no power in a self-publishing world, the editor becomes king. The editor must become our best friend.

   With the advent of the electronic age of publishing all authors who deserve to be published can see their work out in the real world, but, that also means that anyone who has ever written sixty pages about their summer vacation can also be published.  What stands between us as professional writers and those that feel people will be interested in their aunt's gall bladder operation?

   I can tell you, professionalism. We now own the responsibility to maintain the integrity of this industry and must NEVER publish a work that has not been professionally edited and proofed. And I stress the word, professionally. Your sister, the sixth grade English teacher, does not count as a professional editor. This is the only real area of self-publication that will cost the self-published author. You must pay for this service. No one can self-edit. When you get the stage where it is time to kill your babies, you need outside help in doing so. Do not think otherwise.

   The arena of self-publishing can become a rich and bountiful place for us to thrive and flourish but only if we treat it with the utmost respect and reject ourselves more often than we accept what we have written. Ask yourself time and time again, would Doubleday take this? Would McMillian publish this? Is this ready to be sent out into the world. Only when you are one hundred percent certain and only when you have done everything humanly possible to assure that you have the most professional product possible do you submit your work for the world to see.

   I promise you, professionalism will rise to the top of the self-publishing world and we will be building a reputation that is sturdy and secure.