Prior to the birth of the internet, the only options open to aspiring writers (other than being published by a traditional publisher) where to pay what was often a small fortune to a self-publishing company or (if they happened to get lucky) find a magazine/journal who would publish their work.
The web now allows anyone with an internet connection to publish online or via ebook platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). All this technological development is to be welcomed but …
Ebook publishers can decide (at any time) to remove your book. There have even been instances where Amazon has removed ebooks (remotely) from the devices of readers. Now you see your book on an ebook retailer’s website, now you don’t!
You always have your own site to rely on (assuming your writing or parts thereof are published there). That is true, but websites get hacked and even big blogging platforms/web hosting companies may go out of business leaving you high and dry or, to mix metaphors up the creek without a paddle.
Well at least some of your guest posts will survive on the sites/blogs of those who have been kind enough to host your content, won’t they?
I am extremely grateful to everyone who has kindly allowed me to guest post on their site. No one is obliged to post anything by me or anyone else so, when they do so it is a mark of generosity on their part.
However, you are not in control of other people’s sites. They may, at any time decide to delete content (including yours) or, indeed their blog in it’s entirety thereby removing your post and those of others.
So if you want your work to survive permanently what is the answer? In my view, good old-fashioned print. Even if a publishing company (self-publisher or traditional concern) goes out of business your books will remain in the hands of those who have purchased them and, of course you may, yourself hold unsold stock.
Again, if your books are in libraries they will remain available to borrow.
There is, of course nothing to prevent you from retaining electronic copies of your works and the overwhelming majority of writers do so. However hard discs get corrupted beyond salvage, cloud storage systems can be hacked etc.
In short the only failsafe way to preserve your works is to produce print editions.
I am not against electronic media. It is, as I say above, a wonderful way of bringing your writing to the attention of a wider audience but, when the chips are down print is, in my view the hardiest of the plants in the garden.
A fire may destroy a warehouse full of print books but (assuming your book is in bookshops and proofs survive), your work will remain available for today’s (and future) generations.
Print is, in any case wonderful. I have happy memories of visiting W H Smiths with my grandfather and drinking in the scent of all those books as we browsed the store.
To this day happy memories come flooding back whenever I pass by a branch of Smiths.