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JimmyB27
12-01-2009, 04:13 PM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/8382626.stm

Nothing most of us don't know, I'd venture, but perhaps worth a look anyway to see Joe Public's viewpoint on the publishing world.

scarletpeaches
12-01-2009, 04:21 PM
"It's democratised the publishing world and allowed anyone to make a book," said Teresa Pereira from online publisher Blurb.Yeah and that's the problem with it.

BlackBriar
12-01-2009, 05:48 PM
http://ireaderreview.com/2009/11/29/kindle-independent-authors-novel-gets-optioned-for-film/

food for thought. Or maybe not.

seun
12-01-2009, 05:49 PM
"Quantity over quality"? Shudder.

The Lonely One
12-01-2009, 07:09 PM
Democratizing of an industry, to me, simply means the power belongs to individual people, rather than a few. It's a model of individual freedom. Unless the government starts requiring reading of self-published books, what negative impact do self-pubbed books have on the market? I don't think they're legitimately competing in most instances. And if they out-sell you, or get optioned for a movie, that just means they wrote a book more people want to read, and did it their way.

A writer's goals will reflect whether or not they take this road if/when it gets to that.

For an example of why self-publishing is (I think) an important crux in the industry, Steve Almond approached his editor with a collection of prose poem type writings and essays on fiction, which the editor rejected. He self-published it, I bought it. It's of the same quality of writing his other stuff is, it's just that he is in control. Take that for what you will, but these small successes or outlets self-publishing provides seem to help explain the avenue's worth.

It's not for everyone, but I don't get the immense amount of hate it gets from traditional authors.

Richard White
12-01-2009, 07:20 PM
I don't think authors hate self-publishing . . .

I think many authors hate the fact that other authors dive into self-publishing, (or worse, vanity publishing), without any thought other than, "I have to get this published".

I've been a self-publisher (albeit in comic books where self-publishing is considered a badge of honor in many circles . . . the little guy sticking it to the Marvels and DCs of the world, but I digress . . . ) and I can tell you self-publishing is a time consuming, money consuming, patience consuming business. You can't just put the book together and then sit back and wait for the money to come rolling in.

I don't think I ever hustled so hard in the three years I tried to make Nightwolf Graphics a successful small press. I spent time and money dealing with recalcitrant artists, inkers who disappeared for months at a shot, crabby distributors, printers who lost entire print runs (found them on the back dock a month after they were supposed to have been delivered to the distributor and then wanted to charge me shipping to mail them to me so I could mail them to the distributor . . . *sigh*), dealing with comic shops, doing direct mailings, mailing out free copies to comic shops, going to conventions around the country, waiting for money to come in from distributors so I could pay my artists . . .

Yeah, it's a bunch of work.

Oh yeah, and in among all that? I had to write the next issue, do the editing and layout and play at being a soldier too.

And I still lost money on the venture.

Now, I'm not saying this because I'm going for the "poor little me". I'm saying this because if an author is NOT willing to put that kind of time and attention into their book, then they're fooling themselves into thinking they can make it as a self-publisher.

Self publishing is going to cost them time.
Self publishing is going to cost them money.

If they realize that going in, then absolutely, more power to them.

If they haven't done their homework, it's going to be a very miserable time.

BenPanced
12-01-2009, 08:06 PM
I think many authors hate the fact that other authors dive into self-publishing, (or worse, vanity publishing), without any thought other than, "I have to get this published".
Or they have a right to have their work published.

The Lonely One
12-01-2009, 08:09 PM
Or they have a right to have their work published.

Why shouldn't they?

Richard White
12-01-2009, 08:18 PM
Or they have a right to have their work published.

I see writing a book to "publishable" standards in the same light I see learning a foreign language or, in my case, becoming a cryptanalyst.

Everyone can learn the basic ideas behind the concept.

Some have the talent to do it right off the bat and only need a little refining. (Those people annoy me, but I credit them for their talents. ;))

Some have the talent but have to struggle to master the skill. (My definition of how I learn a foreign language is, "I grab it by the throat and hang on until it gives up and lets me learn it." Not too different from my writing technique.)

Some have the desire to learn but their talents lie elsewhere. There's no shame in not being able to write a publishable manuscript. Just like there's no shame in not being able to learn a foreign language or learn how to decipher cryptograms or play professional basketball or sing with the Metropolitan Opera. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

I mean, I can sing, but no one's going to mistake me for Jon Bon Jovi anytime soon. (Anyone looking at my scores in Rock Band would testify to that. *grin*)

________________________________

I think the biggest problem I have with self- or vanity-publishing is I wonder could the author have made it a publishable manuscript with a little more wrestling with their work and did they just give in to the impulse of "I want it now" or was it as good as it was going to get? Does the availablity of all these vanity-presses encourage authors not to give it "one more try" to get it right?

Bubastes
12-01-2009, 08:19 PM
Having too many choices paralyzes me. It's like staring at the chip aisle trying to parse through all the different flavors of Doritos and ending up not buying anything because I can't choose.

I have no desire to rummage through a slush pile of self-pubbed work to find the gems. I'd rather have agents and publishers do most of the heavy lifting for me. Sure, some crap will get through, but at least I know they've screened out the worst 99% of it.

The Lonely One
12-01-2009, 08:44 PM
But define crap. This is the critical issue, to me. If punk rockers have a right to burn their own CD's and anyone can express themselves on a canvas and sell it on ebay, why shouldn't authors have that right? It seems like because writing has two lives, one as art and ones as analytical, it's easier for us to draw lines in the sand.

I think that ownership and entitlement are false ideas. You don't actually own things, nor is anyone more entitled than another to something else. These are societal ideas which are man-made and fallible.

Because some authors work hard towards one goal, traditional publishing, I sense a kind of feeling of entitlement to language and the industry produced by such. What are we really striking at when we push our ways on others? It's not fair I had to do so much work and you're doing it the "easy" way? But why are we concerned with what others do anyway? Why do editors get the final say in what deserves a spine?

Don't get me wrong, I'm going the traditional route. But I look at self-published authors the way I look at every writer out there that has some ridiculous sense of entitlement.

SP author: "I deserve to make it big. Read my book! It's amazing!"
Me: *reads book. responds accordingly.

Same response I'd give to any author out there.

There are a lot of snobby authors out there who I think are shitty for my tastes. Meaning, they totally failed to connect to me beneath the text. Assholes come in all shapes and sizes, but writing must speak for itself.

DamaNegra
12-01-2009, 08:59 PM
But define crap. This is the critical issue, to me. If punk rockers have a right to burn their own CD's and anyone can express themselves on a canvas and sell it on ebay, why shouldn't authors have that right? It seems like because writing has two lives, one as art and ones as analytical, it's easier for us to draw lines in the sand.

Um... yeah. I challenge you to pick a self-published book at random and try to read it. Or maybe not waste your money, how about you spend a while at www.fictionpress.com and read some of the novels posted there. That's what we're talking about when we say crap. Horrible, steaming crap. Some books should never see the light of the day, but they will.

Also, you're taking self-publishing as something informed, conscious authors do. You're not taking into account the hundreds of people that self-publish out of desperation, because they were decieved into it, because they didn't know better and think they're traditionally published, etc. People lose a lot of money in these ventures because they've no idea what they're getting into.

I'm not saying self-publishing is the devil, but it does have a lot of downfalls. There are some people who succesfully self-publish (niche writers, writers with a very specific target audience in mind, fund-raising books, etc.), but for most fiction writing, self-publishing is definitely not the way to go. The above mentioned example of you purchasing Steve Almond's book doesn't hold because you already knew this author and you already knew what the quality of his writing was. For established authors with a built-in fan base, of course self-publishing will also make sense.

LuckyH
12-01-2009, 09:17 PM
I love buying books from all kinds of sources, and when I choose one I look for the author’s bio, possibly the publisher, and read at least the first page before making my mind up. My partner buys them because she likes the book’s cover.

I’ve read quite a few of the books she’s purchased that way, or, I’ve started to read them, and after a few lines, not even paragraphs, I know that they’ve been self-published. I’ve even come across such books that are readable, but as a writer I’m far too harsh a critic anyway, and I’ve never finished one.

But I sometimes wonder whether the reading public really care. To get back to the only handy example I can base my public reader on, she’s next door, right now, reading a magazine, I think it’s called Take That, which I find appalling, yet she buys several similar ones on a regular basis. And she then exchanges them among her circle of friends.

She’s not dumb either, she reads Martina Cole and Linda La Plante, along with millions of others (who read those magazines and books). If I put Hemingway in front of her, I’d have to strap her down and promise her a new frock, or even a car, before she would read more than a page of it.

Yet I believe she is more representative of the average reader than possibly most members of this, or similar forums. She’s not interested in writing, she’s a reader, not a critical one, but one that just wants to be entertained.

If, therefore, she represents the average reader, she wouldn’t know the difference between Hodder and Lulu, and the author’s name wouldn’t mean anything to her either. She’s looking for a nice cover and a simple story of love and romance, or a bit of gangster gore.

70% of books are purchased by women aged between 35 and 55; just like the one next door reading Take That, although she could now be on Hello, she bought that as well this morning.

So could it be that self-publishing could be just as successful as the mainstream? I think it could, if the author had half-a-million to spend on promotion. Therein lies the rub.

If she ever reads what I’ve just written, I’m dead.

The Lonely One
12-01-2009, 09:25 PM
Um... yeah. I challenge you to pick a self-published book at random and try to read it. Or maybe not waste your money, how about you spend a while at www.fictionpress.com (http://www.fictionpress.com) and read some of the novels posted there. That's what we're talking about when we say crap. Horrible, steaming crap. Some books should never see the light of the day, but they will.

Also, you're taking self-publishing as something informed, conscious authors do. You're not taking into account the hundreds of people that self-publish out of desperation, because they were decieved into it, because they didn't know better and think they're traditionally published, etc. People lose a lot of money in these ventures because they've no idea what they're getting into.

I'm not saying self-publishing is the devil, but it does have a lot of downfalls. There are some people who succesfully self-publish (niche writers, writers with a very specific target audience in mind, fund-raising books, etc.), but for most fiction writing, self-publishing is definitely not the way to go. The above mentioned example of you purchasing Steve Almond's book doesn't hold because you already knew this author and you already knew what the quality of his writing was. For established authors with a built-in fan base, of course self-publishing will also make sense.

Yes, people should be informed, like anything else. I give people the benefit of the doubt that they know what they're getting into. I expect people to take hold of their own destinies in responsible ways. But again, you're defining crap by your own terms. They aren't necessarily my terms. And I'm a reader, shouldn't I have the right to choose my own terms?

For one I don't think this argument is going away and it's been around for some time, especially at venues like AW.

There are authors out there who are writing the same kind of work that Steve is writing, just as well, who aren't getting traditional representation. Should we discredit them because there are crappy (by individual definition) authors out there as well?

I guess what I'm really saying is it isn't black and white, and yes there are scammers. But there are scammers in your email daily. But you have the good sense not to send millions of dollars to a Chinese prostitute who is the daughter of some prince who's fallen on hard times, right?

Discretion is a part of life. Without going much farther (because I don't think I'm going to start winning people over to my POV) I'll say that those who are informed have a right to use the tools available to them. If you know how to bind a book and have the machinery, take it a step further, do THAT yourself. Good for you. I applaud it.

Self-publishing is hard, and pits the odds against you as far as making a profit, but those how know that should have the right to do it.

This response is more to the question of "who has the right to publish" and "who is entitled to be considered an author." Both of which seem inconsequential next to the question, "What do I (reader) want to read?"

Jamesaritchie
12-01-2009, 09:32 PM
Everyone has the right to publish. No one has the right to be published by someone else.

Until and unless 99.9% of the self-published books out there improve beyond the level of completely illiterate crap, not much is going to change except how many new writers will shell out how much money to practice their right of publishing their own work.

The Lonely One
12-01-2009, 09:38 PM
Everyone has the right to publish. No one has the right to be published by someone else.


Forget everything I just said. This pretty much sums up my thoughts on it.

Rhoda Nightingale
12-01-2009, 09:45 PM
@The Lonely One: I am nowhere near an expert on the subject, but I am stunned at your insistence that the people who get into self-publishing do so fully aware of all the work, time, money and possible disappointments that go along with it. I'm not gonna argue over the quality of self-published books versus . . . everything else, I guess. There's good stuff and utter shite in every avenue, and I'm including FictionPress.com in that assessment. Anyone who wants to has the right to at least try to get a book in print. But I would not give anyone the "benefit of the doubt" for knowing what they're getting into if they go the self-publishing route. I would never encourage anyone to self-publish, simply because it seems like it's a lot of work for very little payoff.

scarletpeaches
12-01-2009, 09:48 PM
I want gatekeepers in the system so when I choose reading material I'm not shovelling my way through an entire sewer's worth of shite.

If no-one else will pay you for your book, a) ASK YOURSELF WHY and b) why the fuck do you expect me to?

DamaNegra
12-01-2009, 09:51 PM
Oh, I'm not saying people should not self-publish. As I said somewhere else in this thread, there are situations in which self-publishing makes perfect sense, and can even turn a profit if it worked right. Of course it would make more sense to self-publish my cooking group's recipees and then selling them to the people and families of the atendees. Of course it makes sense to self-publish a niche book with a well-defined target market. Of course it makes sense to self-publish the collection of short-stories for my church fundraiser. Of course it makes sense to self-publish experimental fiction if I'm an author with an audience that can't publish it elsewhere. Of course it makes sense to self-publish if you only have friends and family as your target audience. There are hundreds of legit reasons for self-publishing, but if you're serious about getting a writing career in the mainstream fiction market, then self-publishing is definitely not for you.

I wonder how many people actually realize this?

Axler
12-01-2009, 10:00 PM
Well, for most of my career I looked at self-publishing as the last resort of the unpublishable...

That is until the massive shake-up of traditional publishing, starting with last December's "Black Wednesday."

I'm the author of 47 "traditionally" published books, 45 of them novels. I created one of the best-selling SF series of the last 20 years. Since 1996, a minimum of three books of mine have been published per year, like clockwork.

I won't even talk about all my other writing/creative creds in different fields and mediums.

So--

I'm supposed to sh*t-can what I consider my best work because a handful of strangers behind desks screwed up our industry due to self-indulgent bad choices...much like what happened to the automotive industry?

Nah.

I and a lot of other established writers are in similar situations...those strangers have given us two choices in our careers...play by their rules (and they've already proven conclusively their judgement is terrible) or assume the responsibility for getting our work out there.

Some of you may find these meanderings on the topic of interest:

http://markellisink.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=7&Itemid=28

Toothpaste
12-01-2009, 11:52 PM
Agent Rachelle Gardner has summed up my feelings on this subject here:

http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/11/self-publishing-rant-and-q4u.html

The Lonely One
12-01-2009, 11:59 PM
I want gatekeepers in the system so when I choose reading material I'm not shovelling my way through an entire sewer's worth of shite.

If no-one else will pay you for your book, a) ASK YOURSELF WHY and b) why the fuck do you expect me to?

Ah but I'm also a reader and I do not wish to have gatekeepers at my door. Not that I think your gatekeeper should be taken away, but I think it's okay if he stays by your gate.

The answer to a.) could be "I just sold a book like that" or "the market has too many of x" or "It's not right for me." Could also be crappy writing, but that doesn't negate the possibility of the others. And b.) can only be answered in the body of text that is my writing. If one trusts editors over writing itself there is nothing I can do to console that sentiment.

I don't think we'll all ever agree on the SP thing but we do have different views and as long as all views are allowed and spoken on I am happy.

I believe I am done arguing this at this point, only because I wuvs you guys and do not want to fight. In the end we're all going to do what is right for us, so it's silly to rehash what's already been rehashed.

Back to the task of writing :)

The Lonely One
12-02-2009, 12:04 AM
Oh, I'm not saying people should not self-publish. As I said somewhere else in this thread, there are situations in which self-publishing makes perfect sense, and can even turn a profit if it worked right. Of course it would make more sense to self-publish my cooking group's recipees and then selling them to the people and families of the atendees. Of course it makes sense to self-publish a niche book with a well-defined target market. Of course it makes sense to self-publish the collection of short-stories for my church fundraiser. Of course it makes sense to self-publish experimental fiction if I'm an author with an audience that can't publish it elsewhere. Of course it makes sense to self-publish if you only have friends and family as your target audience. There are hundreds of legit reasons for self-publishing, but if you're serious about getting a writing career in the mainstream fiction market, then self-publishing is definitely not for you.

I wonder how many people actually realize this?

Ah. This is a more defined argument which I actually agree with. I think you're right, getting into mainstream fiction with self-publishing is, in general, not the best avenue. I was more speaking on writing in general, which for me includes a lot of experimental stuff or writing off the beaten path.

And at Rhoda: I don't think everyone who gets into it is informed, but I essentially don't care if they are or aren't. It's on them to check out what they're getting into. There are plenty of sources (including AW) on what's a scam and what isn't. Scams are everywhere. You could swipe your card at a gas pump and get scammed if you aren't careful and informed. I expect writers to be informed. If they aren't, that's a flaw they accept of themselves.

I had a discussion with my mother about mainstream v. less structured, or I should say, differently structured creative writing. My view is that I support the efforts of all writers, whatever those efforts might be. If a mainstream author wishes to traditionally publish and make a check, or if the experimental writer wants to give away self-printed pamphlets, I support both. I think our goal is clear by the tradition of storytelling. That is, to tell stories.

scarletpeaches
12-02-2009, 01:41 AM
Ah but I'm also a reader and I do not wish to have gatekeepers at my door. Not that I think your gatekeeper should be taken away, but I think it's okay if he stays by your gate.Okay, think of it as quality control.

Would you buy anything marketed as juice, just because the seller called it that? What if they could put poison in if they so chose, and still sell it as juice?
The answer to a.) could be "I just sold a book like that" or "the market has too many of x" or "It's not right for me."Those are usually the last refuge (or excuses) of people who can't sell their book. If a book is good, it will find a home.

The books I wrote years ago? Couldn't sell them. Why? They were shite. End of.
Could also be crappy writing, but that doesn't negate the possibility of the others.Sure wouldn't help either.
If one trusts editors over writing itself there is nothing I can do to console that sentiment.Nowhere did I say I trust editors over writing itself.

I do trust editors to find good writing.

Or at least filter out the shitest of the shite (yes those are real words).
I don't think we'll all ever agree on the SP thing but we do have different views and as long as all views are allowed and spoken on I am happy.Oh, absolutely. People might think I'm arguing just to be contrary but it's not 'looking for a fight' at all. It's passion. I love books. I love writing and reading them. I adore the English language. And I always strive to improve. I despise the acceptance of mediocrity (even while being guilty of it myself at times) but none of that means I dislike you, or would call you a twunt for arguing your side. There's room for both of us here.

Though of course, I'm right.

maryland
12-02-2009, 02:03 AM
There are examples of self-publishing - there was Samizdat in Russia. There was the Hogarth Press of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. There was Reprise Records and Frank Sinatra. There was William Caxton producing his own "The Game and Playe of Chesse" from his own press in 1475.
This shows that there are all kinds of self-publishing.
It tends to shave off a couple of years of the entire process. Not all are rubbish.

scarletpeaches
12-02-2009, 02:09 AM
Every time a self-publishing thread kicks off, someone mentions such-and-such an author who self-published...and there are never any success stories comparable to the 'big names' in the industry from THE MODERN DAY on their list.

GregB
12-02-2009, 02:41 AM
It tends to shave off a couple of years of the entire process.

Does it? Granted, this is my first time through the commercial publishing process, but first, the process isn't scheduled to take a "couple years" from offer to release, so it would be hard to knock a couple years off of it.

Second, what takes so long in commercial publishing? Near as I can tell, it's getting the book sufficiently squared away, with cover art and spine design, so you can get it in the bookseller systems and catalogs well in advance of release. Lots of other stuff is going in the meantime, including line editing an copy editing, but this is the element that appears to have the longest lead time.

So you can skip this step and self-publish your book print your manuscript more quickly by virtue of having no distribution?

The Lonely One
12-02-2009, 02:50 AM
Okay, think of it as quality control.

Would you buy anything marketed as juice, just because the seller called it that? What if they could put poison in if they so chose, and still sell it as juice?Those are usually the last refuge (or excuses) of people who can't sell their book. If a book is good, it will find a home.

The books I wrote years ago? Couldn't sell them. Why? They were shite. End of.Sure wouldn't help either.Nowhere did I say I trust editors over writing itself.

I do trust editors to find good writing.

Or at least filter out the shitest of the shite (yes those are real words).Oh, absolutely. People might think I'm arguing just to be contrary but it's not 'looking for a fight' at all. It's passion. I love books. I love writing and reading them. I adore the English language. And I always strive to improve. I despise the acceptance of mediocrity (even while being guilty of it myself at times) but none of that means I dislike you, or would call you a twunt for arguing your side. There's room for both of us here.

Though of course, I'm right.

Though of course, yes, you are right :)

The thing about these discussions is, once and a while it's like arguing faiths. Meaning, either our arguments are shaken or whittled sharper. We lose aspects of our arguments that don't quite work and learn why we think a certain way. It also will help us to be clear on things when we go to publish and such.

Passionate people with this sort of back-and-forth reinforcement of ideas I think gain more potential to be powerful players in their field.

Why AW is my second addiction.

Michael J. Hoag
12-02-2009, 02:56 AM
Yeah, I won't be winning anyone over to my POV either, but for what it's worth...

If you're looking to self publish, beware. Go into it understanding: unless you already have an audience to connect with, YOU WILL NEVER EVER MAKE MONEY. Now, that's basically true for most people who go the traditional route, but it's quadruply true for self publishing and quintuply true for subsidy publishing.

That said, despite the idea you'd get from some folks around here, there's nothing intrisically bad about self publishing. Self publishing is not the work of the Debbo.

Cliche ensues: it depends on your goals. And if your goal is simply to communicate through the art of writing, well, first I'd say go out and do readings, you'll have more fun and actually develop skill, make freinds and build an audience. But if that's not your thing, then self publish.

And if you're an artist already in touch with your audience and you have a good editor, then I can really see the benefit of self publishing.

Just remember, one of the benefits of self publishing or better yet small publishing is that you're not so bound by the corporate pressure to be an asshole.

So pretty please, don't become another in the army of douchiousity that goes parading around the interwebs pimping their IUniverse novels as best-sellers.

Dag, I hate that crap.

Michael J. Hoag
12-02-2009, 03:18 AM
Every time a self-publishing thread kicks off, someone mentions such-and-such an author who self-published...and there are never any success stories comparable to the 'big names' in the industry from THE MODERN DAY on their list.

Eragon was originally self published.

And blogs are exactly the kind of self publishing this article is talking about. Democratization.

I can point you to quite a few bloggers who've done ok for themselves.

And besides, screw the big names. Personally, my goals are more along the lines of Amy Hempel's: the idea isn't tons of readers. It's the right readers. That's what I want.

Now, I wouldn't do it, but if somebody's got a plan to reach their audience that involves self publishing, and:
1. their plan isn't the douchey use self publishing as a falacious appeal to authority, by telling everybody they're a "real" author
2. they're very, very skeptical about their potential for commercial success

then by all means...

Toothpaste
12-02-2009, 03:45 AM
(Eragon was not self published. Dude's parents had a small publishing outfit. I guess technically it's self publishing as they did it, but it isn't the same otherwise. Further, it's easy to point out the exceptions to the rule. . .know why? There are so few of them.)

kaitie
12-02-2009, 01:22 PM
Eragon was originally self published.

And blogs are exactly the kind of self publishing this article is talking about. Democratization.

I can point you to quite a few bloggers who've done ok for themselves.



There are a few blogs that have been okay. I've had a couple over the years that I read regularly. I also happen to think 99% of blogs are pure rubbish and unless you have an interesting platform or are an amazing writer they aren't going to succeed. Sorta like a book.

That's what gets me. And to be honest, the only blogs I read right now are industry related ones by agents to find out what's going on. I've got Nathan Bransford and Janet Reid on my favorites and that's it. I've had a few others that used to be good, but like most decent tv shows they get worse over time instead of better, or the author eventually burns out.

Yes, I've got a negative opinions of blogs that goes against that of the vast majority of the world. Sorry.

The truth is, though, the reason I've got such a negative view of them is because of what I've seen. So much is poorly written, just not interesting at all (I don't care what you fed your cat for breakfast this morning!), or offensive in nature (closed-minded people stating "facts," misrepresentations of whatever is going on at the moment, complaining or bragging about what a shitty person they are). No offense to those of you with blogs, but most of what I've seen I've hated, and it's to the point that all you have to do is say the word blog to me and I groan and think, "Oh God, no." And if unfortunately I might actually be expected to have one one day.

This is the thing. There's no quality control. Do you know why I stopped reading fanfic? Because I got tired of how much most of it sucked. Unless I could find a good website with a ranking system that managed to prevent people from just clicking themselves a thousand times, it was a matter of slogging through crap.

I know I sound harsh, but this is how I see it. Now, if you think right now that 99% of books aren't published...and let's say we decide to be really generous and say 4% of those were awesome and great but some evil publisher decided there just wasn't a market for it and was wrong, you still have 95% of books that aren't being published because they aren't good enough.

If all of those could be published, let's say you randomly picked something up off the shelf. You'd have a 5% chance of hitting something good. Why would you continue to buy anything if your chances of getting something good were that low?

I imagine one of two things would happen. One, writing quality overall would diminish as a result of people just not knowing better, or two, the reaction would be similar to the one I've had with blogs. Eventually you just give up. You only bother with something if someone you know has said it's fantastic. I imagine for the average reader, it wouldn't take a whole lot of spending money on something that isn't very good to decide it isn't worth spending the money anymore at all.

I'm probably wrong and exaggerating here, but this is what I think of. It's quality control. Think of everyone you know who "plays guitar." Have you ever heard any of them play? Everyone I know seems to play. For the average person, that means being able to pick out a few chords in a way that resembles a known song. More than I can do, so impressive in that regard. But would I ever even consider buying a CD from them if they offered? No way.

I guess that's my point. Quality control forces us to learn and improve our craft. I'd rather be told that my work isn't good enough to be published and have to work my way up to that level than know there's something sub-par out there with my name on it.

Obviously, there are some circumstances where self-publishing is a great idea. Maybe you're one of the unlucky great ones (like the Celestine Prophecy) that just couldn't find a home. There are loads of reasons I'm sure we all know. But anytime someone suggests to me that there should be a "democratization" of books it makes me cringe. I'm a reader. I want quality. And if my work is never quality and my dream never comes true, so be it.

/end rant.

Momento Mori
12-02-2009, 02:24 PM
Self-publishing has always existed - anyone who writes a book can take it down to their local printer and get it printed and bound for an agreed price. The problem is in getting that book out to the public so that you can make the sales to recoup that cost.

While "self-publishing" is now cheaper for would-be authors (not least where they take advantage of the POD printing model) and an option that has more publicity than was previously the case, that key problem of getting it out to the public remains.


The Lonely One:
It's not fair I had to do so much work and you're doing it the "easy" way? But why are we concerned with what others do anyway? Why do editors get the final say in what deserves a spine?

Define "easy". There is nothing easy about self-publishing and I suggest that the reason so many people here on AW caution against it is because in practice, authors who self-publish spend more money than they recoup.

Now, some authors may be happy to do that, but the impression I get is that many people go into self-publishing with the expectation that it will help them to make money from their work. It then comes as at worst, a nasty shock, and at best a massive disappointment to find that v. few people buy their book.


maryland:
There was the Hogarth Press of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. There was Reprise Records and Frank Sinatra. There was William Caxton producing his own "The Game and Playe of Chesse" from his own press in 1475.

Yes, and how many of these are still operating as self-publishing presses in 2009?


Michael J. Hoag:
Eragon was originally self published.

As Toothpaste says, Paolini's parents owned a publishing company and he spent an awful lot of time doing school visits to promote it. Even then, it was only when he happened to visit a school where a child bought his book and gave it to their commercially published parent to read, did the commercially published parent give it to their editor who decided to buy it. And only then did Paolini make any significant money out of it.

In fact this is true of a lot of the self-publishing authors who made money - they only really made money once they were picked up by commercial publishers.


Michael J. Hoag:
I can point you to quite a few bloggers who've done ok for themselves.

And I can point you to quite a few who haven't but desperately want to. Again, few bloggers get offered contracts and those that do are, interestingly enough, even less likely to be offered a follow-up book because they've 'spent' their interest on book 1.

MM

kaitie
12-02-2009, 03:19 PM
Define "easy". There is nothing easy about self-publishing and I suggest that the reason so many people here on AW caution against it is because in practice, authors who self-publish spend more money than they recoup.

Okay, that's not always true, but I wanted to point it out. I think writing is a field where people expect, or at the very least hope, for instant success. There's the general idea that once we get that book in print we'll get to quit our day jobs and be the next Stephen King. And I can see why. It takes a certain amount of ego to write something and say, "I think everyone should read this." Not saying that's a bad thing. If you're trying that hard, it's because you really believe you might be that good.

The statistics on self-published books speak for themselves. When most sell in the double digits and only to family, etc. it is incredibly hard to recoup the costs involved. But I think part of the danger of self-publishing and encouraging self-publishing is that people really do believe as soon as it's out there they'll be the next David Brown. I think most (if not all) of us would love it. Maybe we know better than to expect, but it doesn't mean we don't dream.

There aren't realistic expectations of what to expect.

I also feel like there's this tendency...how do I explain this...Okay, it's like in school. Your teacher tells you that everyone is going to have to stand up in front of the room and give a report, and you're going to be grading your fellow classmates. Now, automatically, a large number of people are going to give everyone an A no matter what grade they deserve, hoping for the same kindness in return in case they bomb. A few others might see someone do so bad but understand how it feels and give a good grade out of sympathy.

I feel like there is a lot of the same sentiment when people talk about this. It's almost as if there's an undercurrent, that fear in all of us, and a well-founded fear because even the best are going to be rejected many, many times, that we'll be the one to bomb, and we think maybe if we do someone will be nice enough to give us that A, so people support it. Everyone hopes they might be that big success.

There are other people who recognize their own dreams and desires. We see someone work as hard as we do, and we understand the time and effort and pain that goes into writing. When someone is talking about their dream to be a published writer, we understand, so we don't want to be the one to say, "Sorry, but you just aren't up to par." We can't imagine having someone say the same to us, and we want to be supportive of other people's dreams as well.

I feel like I'm being so cold-hearted, which is so far from the truth. I care about dreams, I share the dreams, but I also feel that some things aren't meant to happen, or they're meant to happen from twenty years of working our asses off. To be in the top 1%, to be a professional, in any field takes a lot of work. It takes drive and a sense of realism, and it takes more than just a dream. I'm probably going to bow out of this now because I don't want to be appearing cynical or negative, and I'm afraid that I am.

scarletpeaches
12-02-2009, 03:25 PM
I agree with you entirely, kaitie.

I've spoken of my desire to maintain the gatekeepers and I do see them as quality control experts. Do bad books get published? Oh sure.

But trust me. The slush pile is a lot worse. A lot, lot worse. Dan Brown is the bastard love-child of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens compared to the shit you find in the slush or fanfic sites.

Some people just aren't good enough for mainstream publication and rather than put the work in to improve, they'd rather take the shortcut and whether or not I cause offence, I still say that's cheating.

If you want to lose money on a futle venture, that's entirely up to you but too much of this and we'll see the market flooded and the value of books in the eyes of many will fall.

Momento Mori
12-02-2009, 04:46 PM
scarletpeaches:
Do bad books get published? Oh sure.

I agree with this and I think it also needs to be pointed out that not only do bad books get published but they also make money for the commercial publishers because they are put out there in shops and marketed (to a greater and lesser degree). Sure, some of them will sink without a trace (and those authors will generally find that they don't get another book published) but even the poor sellers will shift a couple of hundred copies. It's a v. rare novel that fails to sell more than 100 when it's been commercially published.

MM

eyeblink
12-02-2009, 05:09 PM
Every time a self-publishing thread kicks off, someone mentions such-and-such an author who self-published...and there are never any success stories comparable to the 'big names' in the industry from THE MODERN DAY on their list.

Timothy Mo is a Booker-nominated literary author, and at least one of his novels has been filmed. He's been self-publishing (as Paddleless Press) since the mid-1990s, and I've seen his books in shops.

Roddy Doyle's The Commitments was initially self-published.

There's also G.P. Taylor, though anyone I know whose judgement I trust who has read his novels doesn't rate them at all. But he did get a six-book deal out of self-publishing Shadowmancer.

kaitie
12-02-2009, 05:26 PM
I would love to see the general odds of being published from a slush pile compared to the odds of becoming a success and getting picked up through self-publishing. My guess is that the latter is a much rarer occurrence. Yes, we're picking up examples, but with the number of self-published books has increased a ton over the past few years, and we can still only think of a few copies. Even if you had only a one in a thousand chance of being published through traditional means, wouldn't the odds of the being picked up through self-publishing be even lower, particularly considering the added difficulties involving rights, whether or not it sold successfully, having to do one's own marketing, etc. to make that happen, and whatever other various factors I'm forgetting.

And there's a quote often floating around here that says if you have a good book of publishing quality, your chances are much, much, much higher through traditional means.

seun
12-02-2009, 05:27 PM
In almost six years of working in a library, I've yet to see one self published book come my way that wasn't, frankly speaking, a waste of paper.

That doesn't mean I think all self published books are like this, but I do believe there's a reason these books were self published.

scarletpeaches
12-02-2009, 05:34 PM
I've never read a self-published book that was fit to wipe my arse with.

You can bet if a commercial publisher picked it up, it would be heavily edited before it went anywhere near a bookshop again.

And even then, some are still shite *coughGPTaylorcough*

MarkEsq
12-02-2009, 06:11 PM
If you want to make real money off self-publishing, come up with a system and a cool website whereby you review and rank self- and traditionally-published books. A shift of gatekeeper, perhaps. I'm betting a couple of trustworthy review sites will be online in a year or two, and make their owners very wealthy.

And why am I sharing this insight? Cos I don't know how to build a website. :)

veinglory
12-02-2009, 07:19 PM
I've never read a self-published book that was fit to wipe my arse with.

By my best estimate I have read about 100 self-published books. About half were (or would have been) worth the cover price, about 10 were very good and 2-3 were excellent and of a type unlikely to be commerically published.

IMHO being anti-self publishing is a bit like an olympic sprint contender being anti-jogging. It buys into, rather than rejects, the notion that the two publishing models are qualitatively equivalent and differ only quantitiatively.

aruna
12-02-2009, 07:43 PM
Or at least filter out the shitest of the shite (yes those are real words).
Though of course, I'm right.


I think the real word is shittiest.
Carry on.

scarletpeaches
12-02-2009, 07:53 PM
aruna!

Did you do a swear? :eek:

Momento Mori
12-02-2009, 07:54 PM
eyeblink:
There's also G.P. Taylor, though anyone I know whose judgement I trust who has read his novels doesn't rate them at all. But he did get a six-book deal out of self-publishing Shadowmancer.

Taylor famously had to sell his motorbike in order to pay for his first self-published book and I've been told that he used to go around schools doing visits and book signings literally carrying his books with him. However, although he has promoted self-publishing ventures, his money came after he got the 7 book deal with Faber & Faber, which got him into the stores, which got him the sales to get the film deals.

There's also the point that if GP Taylor is so keen on self-publishing (and I've certainly read enough interviews with him where he lauds it as a positive thing to do), then why did he take a 7 ybook deal with Faber & Faber in the first place and when does he plan to return to self-publishing?

MM

DeadlyAccurate
12-02-2009, 07:54 PM
I, more than most, could offer a legitimate complaint against the gatekeeping system that publishing houses provide, and I still think it should be there.

See, three years ago, I wrote this book. It was a good book, I thought, and lo and behold, it started getting interest from agents. And then it got *the* interest. An offer of representation from a well-respected AAR agent (two, in fact)!

It went out on submission. And again. And again. And it didn't sell. Apparently, publishers didn't think there was a market for near future female assassin fiction.

But that's okay, because I was already editing the second book with that character. And it was awesome! Much stronger, able to be sold as a first book in a potential series. My agent loved it! I loved it. Editors even loved it.

And it didn't sell.

I want this story and this character to go out in the world for everyone to see. So I've taken it back and changed the genre. Plot is still the same; characters are the same. Just added a bit more to the world. The book is even better than before, and it's now a genre that will, hopefully, sell better.

Do I think the publishing houses are wrong? Well, I wouldn't have tried to sell the book if I didn't think there was an audience for it. But I want that gatekeeping system to be there. I want readers to know that when they pick up my book it went through a vetting system and it's not simply *my* opinion that the book is good enough for their money.

I'll sell something one day. If not this book then another. It's hardly the only book I've written or will write.

aruna
12-02-2009, 08:54 PM
aruna!

Did you do a swear? :eek:


I can do a fart as well. Wanna smell see? :e2moon:

oh dear will I get banninated now?

scarletpeaches
12-02-2009, 08:56 PM
Oh God. A little part of me just died.

kaitie
12-03-2009, 08:12 AM
IMHO being anti-self publishing is a bit like an olympic sprint contender being anti-jogging. It buys into, rather than rejects, the notion that the two publishing models are qualitatively equivalent and differ only quantitiatively.

Okay, so I'm really bad at metaphor (and I call myself a writer lol), but I don't get what you're saying at all. To me, the better comparison would be to say that we're all training to be Olympic sprinters, but instead of giving a medal to the top three, someone has decided to just hand out the same medal to everyone who showed up to run.

There are some books that make sense to self-publish. That's fine. But if you're talking about making it easier for everyone to do it, you're lowering the meaning of being published, the same way that Olympic medal stops meaning something if it's just handed out to everyone.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 08:18 AM
And the medal is the freedom to PAY to PRINT a book? I don't get that equation at all. This is the first amendment. The very first.

Published authors can feel threatened all day long but self-publishing is here, and it ain't goin' nowhere.

If someone told me "we're going to stop making recording programs that automate all the shit recording studios used to do because we don't think it's fair some bands don't use big studios to record" I'd look at them like...what country do you live in? It sucks that recording engineers are becoming less and less integral to recording music, because they need to feed their kids, but that's just the way shit is. Sorry pal, adapt. Just like evolution intended. I was going to become a recording engineer, then decided, if I can record my band with cakewalk and it sounds like this...so can anyone with a few thousand bucks to spend on mics. It's putting power in the hands of people, which ultimately is what a free society wants.

If a book "sucks" that is, it doesn't make the proper connections with people and fails to maintain its own structures successfully, IT WON'T SELL. How many self-published people have the money or influence to put their books in B&N, Borders, to market the books correctly and efficiently, to tour, to print the books and to pay the bills? If someone's going to throw that kind of cash into their work they either really believe in it or they're idiots. Possibly both, but in any case it's a large investment, so I hear.

e-publishing something is as simple as throwing it on your blog. Are we really going to police the quality of blogs? I dunno... It just seems like we can do better off writing and pursuing our own paths and leaving everyone else the hell alone.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 08:38 AM
Do I think the publishing houses are wrong? Well, I wouldn't have tried to sell the book if I didn't think there was an audience for it. But I want that gatekeeping system to be there. I want readers to know that when they pick up my book it went through a vetting system and it's not simply *my* opinion that the book is good enough for their money.


I get what you're saying, and you're way more experienced than I so take this saltily, but...

Why should readers give a crap what editors think? I don't mean readers who are writers, who have a vested interest in the industry. I mean readers who pick up one book traditionally published and one self-published. I really, truly don't think they give a gosh-darn, or even really know the intricacies of the differences.

A reader should read the blurb, read a few pages, and decide.

This also is not a comment on your specific instance, but more on "gate-keepers." Because you all can have them but I won't have them imposed on my reading.

(I know I said I'd stay out of it and maybe I should...but I just love wrastlin' with y'all :))

kaitie
12-03-2009, 09:06 AM
I've got a suggestion. Go to Nathan Bransford's blog, read through all (or even five pages) of the entries for his opening paragraph contest. It was a couple of months ago, but should be easy enough to find. There were thousands.

The vast majority of those weren't particularly good. I've got an entry in there, too, and certainly didn't come anywhere close to winning. But on a page of 200, you generally had only one or two that were stellar, and a couple of others that might have been decent enough. Now, consider that everyone who has ever read through a slushpile had an overwhelming consensus--those entries were still much better than what's sitting in the average slush.

If that doesn't convince you, look through agent blogs and see what the reasons are for rejecting. There's a link someone else can post because I can't think of it right now about this exact thing. Again, the overwhelming consensus is that the vast majority are rejected solely because they can't even put together grammatically correct sentences or have no sense of structure and basic word use. Vast. Majority. If I could remember the link I'd throw it in but I'm having a brain lapse.

So what it comes down to is the majority of books written are written by people who are unable to construct complete sentences and use words correctly. Do you really want to spend your time looking for a book trying to find that 10% that are just written intelligibly? And then once you've found one of those, you have a book that's obviously well-written, but what if the plot just sucks, or there isn't one at all, or the characters are ridiculous or one-dimensional? How can you tell that from reading a couple of pages? Or from a book jacket for that matter?

We want to go to a bookstore and be able to pick out a book that sounds interesting. We don't want to spend time slogging through trying to figure out what might be written well enough to even warrant our time. Especially when we're spending money on it. I already get books that I read and then don't particularly like--and those have been filtered. Just stop and imagine what would happen they weren't.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 11:24 AM
That's why there is a traditional market that pushes its majority weight around, why those books get into bookstores, etc. Because bookstores trust these markets to produce quality work. It's a proven system with checks and balances. Yet, if I want to read a self-published book, it should be purposefully harder for me to find these? These authors shouldn't have easy access to printing presses? Why? It's essentially saying self-publishing is equated directly to bad quality. Sure, there is bad quality a lot more than good in this secondary system, but we can't censor it because we don't like what it does to language. That's just not how freedom and democracy work IMO.

But I wonder what the argument being made against self-publishing IS, seeing as it already exists as does the internet. I could've posted a novel online long before this article was printed.

Polenth
12-03-2009, 11:52 AM
Why should readers give a crap what editors think? I don't mean readers who are writers, who have a vested interest in the industry. I mean readers who pick up one book traditionally published and one self-published. I really, truly don't think they give a gosh-darn, or even really know the intricacies of the differences.

A reader should read the blurb, read a few pages, and decide.

As a reader of fiction, I don't have time to read the first few pages of that many books. I did try. I browsed Lulu's site in my genre of preference. I had difficulty finding a book that met minimum quality standards, let alone one for my reading tastes.

This was before I understood the details of publishing, so I still had a vague feeling of there being some sort of overseer at the company. A heap of bad books meant I didn't trust anything from the company and learnt to avoid their books.

Readers don't need to know the intricacies to see the basic problem of lack of filtering. They will learn to seek out some book brands and avoid others, even if they don't know why those brands are different.

willietheshakes
12-03-2009, 11:52 AM
TLO -- to my mind, I don't think the objection is to self-publishing as a choice.

I think the sentiment against self-publishing here comes down to two things:
1) a vehement displeasure with the self-publishing companies and the movement which supports them, which prey upon the less-informed in order to build healthy profits and
2) the underlying delusions which support both these companies and that movement.

You want to self-publish? Fine. I honestly do not give a shit. Fill your boots.
But -- and this is speaking as someone whose job it is to go through the stacks of self-published books to determine which ones the store is going to carry -- don't expect to become a millionaire. Don't expect to be the exception (a la James Redfield). Don't expect to be judged other than by the company you keep. And don't assume, for even a split second, that just because you have an ISBN you'll find a spot on the shelves, because I can tell you for a fact, that doesn't happen in the VAST majority of cases.

I see hundreds of self-published titles a month. Want to know how many I brought in, on a consignment basis, last month? Two. Two titles, out of about two hundred. And there were extenuating circumstances for both.

kaitie
12-03-2009, 11:53 AM
That's why there is a traditional market that pushes its majority weight around, why those books get into bookstores, etc. Because bookstores trust these markets to produce quality work. It's a proven system with checks and balances. Yet, if I want to read a self-published book, it should be purposefully harder for me to find these? These authors shouldn't have easy access to printing presses? Why? It's essentially saying self-publishing is equated directly to bad quality. Sure, there is bad quality a lot more than good in this secondary system, but we can't censor it because we don't like what it does to language. That's just not how freedom and democracy work IMO.

But I wonder what the argument being made against self-publishing IS, seeing as it already exists as does the internet. I could've posted a novel online long before this article was printed.

I do agree that books that are self-published to niche markets, etc. do deserve to be easily accessible to those who wish to buy them. And I assume that in general they are because they are niche, meaning there is an established market for them and the author can market directly to those five hundred or however many people searching for those books in one way shape or form.

As for it not being democratic...first of all we're talking about business. You can talk about the power of the market all you want. And that's precisely what publishers are doing if you want to get picky about it. They publish books that are likely to appeal to a large group of people. At the moments vampires are selling like hotcakes. So they go buy more vampire books. Maybe next year it will be aliens. Maybe right now literary fiction isn't selling well and therefore fewer are being printed. I don't really see how that's not essentially democratic considering books are printed based on what the buyer would like.

Your argument seems to be that all books should be out there with equal access and marketing and what not, and I'd like you to mention a single business that uses this as the business model.

And who on earth is talking about censorship? I haven't seen anything about censorship because you don't like the language. Are you saying poor quality works are being censored because they're not published by a major publisher? If you can't write worth a darn and want your work out there then go put it online, like you said. No one is censoring anything, unless you write a book that is so controversial stores won't stock it or something, which doesn't happen often. And often controversial stuff sells more anyway.

You also haven't addressed at all how anyone is supposed to know that a book is high-quality. Yes we can judge writing, but how do we judge plot and characterization and that sort of thing? We trust that someone has read through to make sure they're not completely ridiculous (well, for newbies anyway. established writers can obviously get by with quite a bit). How do we know that if no one has read through it to say? I don't want to know the whole plot of a book before I read it, which is the only way I can imagine knowing.

I think the main argument I'm making here isn't against all self-publishing. There are certain circumstances when it's useful. If you're writing to a small market, that market will find your books and one would hope be able to do so easily. That's good. Some books might be really brilliant but just not come at the right time or somehow fell through the cracks, and those are the ones that sell anyway, so obviously people are finding them.

The issue is saying that all or even most writers deserve to be published. They don't. There, I've said it and I'm a horrible bitch for doing so, but it's true. What I don't understand is the concept that in a professional field--one which people are expected to pay money for--everyone should be given an equal shot. We want quality, period. We expect quality. Not everyone is going to be able to reach that level. Those who do will require lots of hard work or just insane amounts of talent (I'm in the former category btw, I'm not all that talented). Some of us may never make it. Oh well.

I do wushu for fun. Am I ever going to be throwing 720 degree twist kicks? Not a chance in hell. Am I ever going to be winning national competitions? Nope. Does it mean I can't work hard and enjoy it? Not in the least. I used to be a competitive gymnast. I dreamed for years of going to the Olympics, but it wasn't going to happen a) because of my really crappy ankles and b) because I started far too late to build up that level of skill. I never made it that far. Did it ruin my life? No.

I love to write. I write because I enjoy it. I will continue to write no matter what. Yes, my dream is to be published. Hell, my dream is to be published and be able to make a living at it and not have to work a "real" job. Yes, this is my dream. But just having that dream doesn't mean I am capable of getting there--and just because it's my dream doesn't mean it should just be handed to me. I'll work my ass off for it and if I never get there so be it. Life is like that sometimes.

I feel like that's the argument I'm hearing. Everyone should be given the same chance. And we all have the same chance. Going back to that Olympic runner metaphor mentioned above. We're all running in the same race. There are only 3 medals. Our chance comes in the running. Our chance comes in the training and time and effort we put into our craft. We already have a chance.

willietheshakes
12-03-2009, 11:59 AM
I do agree that books that are self-published to niche markets, etc. do deserve to be easily accessible to those who wish to buy them. And I assume that in general they are because they are niche, meaning there is an established market for them and the author can market directly to those five hundred or however many people searching for those books in one way shape or form.

As for it not being democratic...first of all we're talking about business. You can talk about the power of the market all you want. And that's precisely what publishers are doing if you want to get picky about it. They publish books that are likely to appeal to a large group of people. At the moments vampires are selling like hotcakes. So they go buy more vampire books. Maybe next year it will be aliens. Maybe right now literary fiction isn't selling well and therefore fewer are being printed. I don't really see how that's not essentially democratic considering books are printed based on what the buyer would like.

Your argument seems to be that all books should be out there with equal access and marketing and what not, and I'd like you to mention a single business that uses this as the business model.

And who on earth is talking about censorship? I haven't seen anything about censorship because you don't like the language. Are you saying poor quality works are being censored because they're not published by a major publisher? If you can't write worth a darn and want your work out there then go put it online, like you said. No one is censoring anything, unless you write a book that is so controversial stores won't stock it or something, which doesn't happen often. And often controversial stuff sells more anyway.

You also haven't addressed at all how anyone is supposed to know that a book is high-quality. Yes we can judge writing, but how do we judge plot and characterization and that sort of thing? We trust that someone has read through to make sure they're not completely ridiculous (well, for newbies anyway. established writers can obviously get by with quite a bit). How do we know that if no one has read through it to say? I don't want to know the whole plot of a book before I read it, which is the only way I can imagine knowing.

I think the main argument I'm making here isn't against all self-publishing. There are certain circumstances when it's useful. If you're writing to a small market, that market will find your books and one would hope be able to do so easily. That's good. Some books might be really brilliant but just not come at the right time or somehow fell through the cracks, and those are the ones that sell anyway, so obviously people are finding them.

The issue is saying that all or even most writers deserve to be published. They don't. There, I've said it and I'm a horrible bitch for doing so, but it's true. What I don't understand is the concept that in a professional field--one which people are expected to pay money for--everyone should be given an equal shot. We want quality, period. We expect quality. Not everyone is going to be able to reach that level. Those who do will require lots of hard work or just insane amounts of talent (I'm in the former category btw, I'm not all that talented). Some of us may never make it. Oh well.

I do wushu for fun. Am I ever going to be throwing 720 degree twist kicks? Not a chance in hell. Am I ever going to be winning national competitions? Nope. Does it mean I can't work hard and enjoy it? Not in the least. I used to be a competitive gymnast. I dreamed for years of going to the Olympics, but it wasn't going to happen a) because of my really crappy ankles and b) because I started far too late to build up that level of skill. I never made it that far. Did it ruin my life? No.

I love to write. I write because I enjoy it. I will continue to write no matter what. Yes, my dream is to be published. Hell, my dream is to be published and be able to make a living at it and not have to work a "real" job. Yes, this is my dream. But just having that dream doesn't mean I am capable of getting there--and just because it's my dream doesn't mean it should just be handed to me. I'll work my ass off for it and if I never get there so be it. Life is like that sometimes.

I feel like that's the argument I'm hearing. Everyone should be given the same chance. And we all have the same chance. Going back to that Olympic runner metaphor mentioned above. We're all running in the same race. There are only 3 medals. Our chance comes in the running. Our chance comes in the training and time and effort we put into our craft. We already have a chance.

(dramatic slow clap)

(gradually, the assembled crowd joins in)

This. Yup, this.

Momento Mori
12-03-2009, 02:26 PM
The Lonely One:
Published authors can feel threatened all day long but self-publishing is here, and it ain't goin' nowhere.

Who said that published authors are threatened by self-publishing?

Obviously self-publishing isn't going anywhere but that doesn't mean that it's a great idea and one that authors should be leaping to sign up for.


The Lonely One:
Why should readers give a crap what editors think? I don't mean readers who are writers, who have a vested interest in the industry. I mean readers who pick up one book traditionally published and one self-published.

Readers shouldn't care and don't care about editors. Most readers don't even know that a professionally published book has an editor.

However, I will guarantee that readers will be able to tell 99.9% of the time whether a book has been professionally produced or self-published just by looking at the first couple of pages.


The Lonely One:
That's why there is a traditional market that pushes its majority weight around, why those books get into bookstores, etc. Because bookstores trust these markets to produce quality work.

Erm no. That's not even close to how bookselling works.

Bookstores have more power than publishers. They can make demands governing the returns policy (by which bookstores return books that they have not sold to the publisher), the price per unit (book) that they pay to the publisher (which in turn affects the profitability) and how each book gets marketed.

In the UK (and I'm betting that this is true in the US as well) the prize for publishers is to get on the offers table (whether that's 3 books for the price of 2, manager's choice, buy 1 get 1 half price etc) because getting on those tables increases your chance of making significant sales (and can make the different between hitting the bestseller lists and not). It costs money to get on those tables (upwards of £25,000, which is a hell of a lot of money to spend on one book).


The Lonely One:
Yet, if I want to read a self-published book, it should be purposefully harder for me to find these?

It's harder because self-publishing won't negotiate any of the above with booksellers. Self-publishers will typically use POD technology, which means that there's no stock to send to booksellers to put on their shelves (unless the author organises it themselves), there's no budget for paying bookseller's costs to market a book (unless the author organises and pays for it themselves) and there's no discussion over the price of the book (unless an author is willing to make a big discount, which in turn reduces the amount of money they'l make from it).

All this means that essentially you can only buy a self-published book if:

(a) you know the author; or

(b) you know the self-publishing company and frequently peruse their site for new books.

Most people don't do that. In fact, even for sites like Amazon there isn't an awful lot of perusal of books - in practice people will see a book they like in a store and then see if it's cheaper on Amazon.


The Lonely One:
These authors shouldn't have easy access to printing presses? Why?

Who said that? No one is saying that authors should not have access to self-publishing. What we are saying is that authors who self-publish should not expect to make money from it - in practice, many self-published authors lose money as a result of going down that route.

Now, if an author goes into self-publishing fully appreciating and accepting that risk, then good luck to them. All too often though, self-published authors see self-publishing as a short-cut to fame and fortune and that is why I take issue with it.


The Lonely One:
But I wonder what the argument being made against self-publishing IS, seeing as it already exists as does the internet.

See all of the above.

Otherwise, what kaitie said so well.

MM

aruna
12-03-2009, 04:46 PM
Excelent post, MM.
Incidentally I do not feel in the least "threatened" by self-published authors.

Axler
12-03-2009, 06:00 PM
Excelent post, MM.
Incidentally I do not feel in the least "threatened" by self-published authors.

That's good...since fewer books are being bought by the big houses, even those produced by writers with established track records, you're going to see a whole lot more self-published authors.

Two writers I know who both have sold 20 plus books over the years have taken the self-publishing plunge...like me, they're not going to allow so-called edtiors (quite a few of whom are jumped-up secretaries, promoted in the wake of last year's "Black Wednesday") to tell us whether we still have writing careers or not.

Momento Mori
12-03-2009, 06:29 PM
Axler:
That's good...since fewer books are being bought by the big houses, even those produced by writers with established track records, you're going to see a whole lot more self-published authors.

Publishing is one world where strength of author numbers has no bearing on success. The larger the herd, the less chance you have of getting noticed (unless you're very lucky or have spent a lot of money).


Axler:
Two writers I know who both have sold 20 plus books over the years have taken the self-publishing plunge...like me, they're not going to allow so-called edtiors (quite a few of whom are jumped-up secretaries, promoted in the wake of last year's "Black Wednesday") to tell us whether we still have writing careers or not.

It's not the editors - it's increasingly the accountants and the marketing bods who decide whether a mid-selling or low-selling author will continue to have a publishing career.

I know plenty of acquiring editors who would love to have taken further books from an author but the numbers didn't stack up for the bean counters.


aruna:
Excelent post, MM.

Cheers.

MM

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 06:51 PM
okay, forget what I said about bookstores. I was trying to make a more general point about market demand but obviously don't know shit about how bookstores deal with their clients.

Point is, and was, and has been, mainstream publishing sells books (to whomever, let's call them readers) because it is a system of checks and balances that seeks to maintain a certain level of quality.

Look, I just think our philosophies are different. You all are probably talking about mainstream commercial fiction as the rules apply, and I am referring to any type of creative writing. Well, really, any kind of writing.

My belief is that SP shouldn't be bullied around for offering a service in a capitalist system of free press. I DO think some authors feel threatened that they went through all the normal trouble and now aren't the only ones going around using the word "author." This is a sense of entitlement, which I think is false. To believe one truly owns something of this world, to spend time and emotion worrying about what another person is not entitled to.


I also feel like there's this tendency...how do I explain this...Okay, it's like in school. Your teacher tells you that everyone is going to have to stand up in front of the room and give a report, and you're going to be grading your fellow classmates. Now, automatically, a large number of people are going to give everyone an A no matter what grade they deserve, hoping for the same kindness in return in case they bomb. A few others might see someone do so bad but understand how it feels and give a good grade out of sympathy.

Is this not a fear, a consciousness of how others are graded? One's system being threatened? First off, though, readers aren't going to give books a good grade out of sympathy. Nor are reviewers or prestigious literary lists/awards.

I'm fine with the way the system is now. SP internet websites are available and separate, it seems, from the general fiction sections at bookstores. Let the market decide what to market, how, etc. Let SP exist and judge books on their insides. If you want to stick to authors you know or traditional books only, do it. No one's stopping you nor is it hard to differentiate upon searching. Is anyone getting lost wandering through the aisles of B&N? Forgive me but all the "SP is bad" stuff does sound a lot like sour grapes or complaining, when really it seems so irrational.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 07:05 PM
TLO -- to my mind, I don't think the objection is to self-publishing as a choice.

I think the sentiment against self-publishing here comes down to two things:
1) a vehement displeasure with the self-publishing companies and the movement which supports them, which prey upon the less-informed in order to build healthy profits and
2) the underlying delusions which support both these companies and that movement.

You want to self-publish? Fine. I honestly do not give a shit. Fill your boots.
But -- and this is speaking as someone whose job it is to go through the stacks of self-published books to determine which ones the store is going to carry -- don't expect to become a millionaire. Don't expect to be the exception (a la James Redfield). Don't expect to be judged other than by the company you keep. And don't assume, for even a split second, that just because you have an ISBN you'll find a spot on the shelves, because I can tell you for a fact, that doesn't happen in the VAST majority of cases.

I see hundreds of self-published titles a month. Want to know how many I brought in, on a consignment basis, last month? Two. Two titles, out of about two hundred. And there were extenuating circumstances for both.

Just FTR, I'm not trying to self-publish. I'm just in support of anyone who wants to get their writing out there. I'm also not delusional about the kinds of shelf-space these books will get. I'm not saying I shuold go into a big bookstore and find SP books everywhere. No. Not at all. I'm just fighting for a writer's right to print something at their own cost or throw it on a website and market it themselves.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 07:09 PM
I do agree that books that are self-published to niche markets, etc. do deserve to be easily accessible to those who wish to buy them. And I assume that in general they are because they are niche, meaning there is an established market for them and the author can market directly to those five hundred or however many people searching for those books in one way shape or form.

As for it not being democratic...first of all we're talking about business. You can talk about the power of the market all you want. And that's precisely what publishers are doing if you want to get picky about it. They publish books that are likely to appeal to a large group of people. At the moments vampires are selling like hotcakes. So they go buy more vampire books. Maybe next year it will be aliens. Maybe right now literary fiction isn't selling well and therefore fewer are being printed. I don't really see how that's not essentially democratic considering books are printed based on what the buyer would like.

Your argument seems to be that all books should be out there with equal access and marketing and what not, and I'd like you to mention a single business that uses this as the business model.

And who on earth is talking about censorship? I haven't seen anything about censorship because you don't like the language. Are you saying poor quality works are being censored because they're not published by a major publisher? If you can't write worth a darn and want your work out there then go put it online, like you said. No one is censoring anything, unless you write a book that is so controversial stores won't stock it or something, which doesn't happen often. And often controversial stuff sells more anyway.

You also haven't addressed at all how anyone is supposed to know that a book is high-quality. Yes we can judge writing, but how do we judge plot and characterization and that sort of thing? We trust that someone has read through to make sure they're not completely ridiculous (well, for newbies anyway. established writers can obviously get by with quite a bit). How do we know that if no one has read through it to say? I don't want to know the whole plot of a book before I read it, which is the only way I can imagine knowing.

I think the main argument I'm making here isn't against all self-publishing. There are certain circumstances when it's useful. If you're writing to a small market, that market will find your books and one would hope be able to do so easily. That's good. Some books might be really brilliant but just not come at the right time or somehow fell through the cracks, and those are the ones that sell anyway, so obviously people are finding them.

The issue is saying that all or even most writers deserve to be published. They don't. There, I've said it and I'm a horrible bitch for doing so, but it's true. What I don't understand is the concept that in a professional field--one which people are expected to pay money for--everyone should be given an equal shot. We want quality, period. We expect quality. Not everyone is going to be able to reach that level. Those who do will require lots of hard work or just insane amounts of talent (I'm in the former category btw, I'm not all that talented). Some of us may never make it. Oh well.

I do wushu for fun. Am I ever going to be throwing 720 degree twist kicks? Not a chance in hell. Am I ever going to be winning national competitions? Nope. Does it mean I can't work hard and enjoy it? Not in the least. I used to be a competitive gymnast. I dreamed for years of going to the Olympics, but it wasn't going to happen a) because of my really crappy ankles and b) because I started far too late to build up that level of skill. I never made it that far. Did it ruin my life? No.

I love to write. I write because I enjoy it. I will continue to write no matter what. Yes, my dream is to be published. Hell, my dream is to be published and be able to make a living at it and not have to work a "real" job. Yes, this is my dream. But just having that dream doesn't mean I am capable of getting there--and just because it's my dream doesn't mean it should just be handed to me. I'll work my ass off for it and if I never get there so be it. Life is like that sometimes.

I feel like that's the argument I'm hearing. Everyone should be given the same chance. And we all have the same chance. Going back to that Olympic runner metaphor mentioned above. We're all running in the same race. There are only 3 medals. Our chance comes in the running. Our chance comes in the training and time and effort we put into our craft. We already have a chance.

i have to go to school but I'll respond to this when I get there :)

Momento Mori
12-03-2009, 07:12 PM
The Lonely One:
My belief is that SP shouldn't be bullied around for offering a service in a capitalist system of free press.

Who's bullying them?

There's a world of difference between pointing out why something might not be a good idea for authors for documented and considered reasons and deliberately trying to put something down because it pisses you off.

You seem to think that the objections being voiced here are coming from the latter, when they are in fact coming from the former.


The Lonely One:
You all are probably talking about mainstream commercial fiction as the rules apply, and I am referring to any type of creative writing.

I think that our difference is more base than that. I know that I'm coming at this from the point of view of money and specifically the making of the same.

There are a hundred ways to put creative writing out there if that's what you want to do. There aren't many ways of making money out of your creative writing.


The Lonely One:
Forgive me but all the "SP is bad" stuff does sound a lot like sour grapes or complaining, when really it seems so irrational.

Really? After everything I and others have said about our concerns about self-publishing, you still think that it comes from "sour grapes or complaining"?


The Lonely One:
I'm just fighting for a writer's right to print something at their own cost or throw it on a website and market it themselves.

Why does that right need fighting for? It's there - it exists. I'm genuinely not understanding why you are making the assumption that people here are saying that this is something that should never exist or should be suppressed.

MM

veinglory
12-03-2009, 07:24 PM
I buy a lot of self-published books and receive even more as review copies. But in doing so I have become deathly sick and tired of the "the world is unfair" claptrap that some self-published authors spout. The world doesn't owe anyone a space on the NYT best seller list. You either do what it takes to get there, or you modify your aspirations. Failing to meet that kind of aspiration does not mean "the system is broken", "the man is keeping me down" or "it is time for a revolution/new word order in publishing."

I like the self-published books I read, generally speaking. But I have pretty much learned never to engage the author in dialogue unless I already know they are not a zealot, or are a zealot but don't evangalise. Which is rather sad.

Bubastes
12-03-2009, 07:29 PM
Why does that right need fighting for? It's there - it exists. I'm genuinely not understanding why you are making the assumption that people here are saying that this is something that should never exist or should be suppressed.



Agreed. No one's stopping anyone from going to Lulu.com or Kinkos to self-pub their book. I can respect the effort. That doesn't mean I need to respect the result.

kaitie
12-03-2009, 07:29 PM
Two writers I know who both have sold 20 plus books over the years have taken the self-publishing plunge...like me, they're not going to allow so-called edtiors (quite a few of whom are jumped-up secretaries, promoted in the wake of last year's "Black Wednesday") to tell us whether we still have writing careers or not.

I just am going to express a personal pet-peeve thing because I hate seeing things like, "so-called editors" (though amusingly spelled wrong). I'm one of those crazy writers who doesn't actually think the industry is out to get us. Do I think there are problems? Yeah, definitely. But those editors also do a valuable service, rather than simply deciding who to publish and who "shouldn't have a career." They edit. Then they give it to copy-editors who edit as well. They help improve the writer's work and bring it up to a publishable quality.

Most self-publishing services don't offer editing, or what they do will be minimal and usually at a cost. If you want editing, you have to pay to have it done on your own--and that's expensive. Also, you have to find your way through potential scam artists and find a good, well-qualified editor who can help you. Then shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars.

I don't know anything about you and whether or not you are published, but what you are talking about with your friends is not a normal situation. You are talking about writers who have been published who perhaps have an established audience. It might be that the publishing company decided that audience wasn't big enough (if the books are selling, they'll keep buying) and dumped them, and that sucks, but the thing is, they have a built in audience. People who have read and enjoyed their books will read and enjoy their books again. A normal person doesn't have this kind of platform. For your friends it might make sense. For someone like me who's never been published? Not so much. Especially not when I've spent so much money on editing and publishing in the first place. I'm not going to have a career. I'm probably going to end up even more in the hole.

kaitie
12-03-2009, 07:32 PM
i have to go to school but I'll respond to this when I get there :)

Omg lol...as long as you aren't responding on a cell phone during class. ;) I'm a teacher and that drives me nuts lol. :D

And to the comment someone made above (it's so late here I can't look through it all again) about established writers feeling threatened...I don't know. I'm not "established" but I am one speaking out against self-publishing for the average author as a good thing, and I certainly don't feel threatened in the way you mean. Honestly, a lot of my concern comes from being a reader.

DeadlyAccurate
12-03-2009, 07:37 PM
Why does that right need fighting for? It's there - it exists. I'm genuinely not understanding why you are making the assumption that people here are saying that this is something that should never exist or should be suppressed.

Actually, in a way I am. I mean, I don't think it should be illegal or suppressed; I obviously support the right for anyone to have anything printed. But I'm a consumer advocate, and I believe the consumer should not be led to believe that self-published books are just as good as those published with commercial presses when 9 times out of 10 that isn't true.

I also believe the writers/self-publishing consumers should not be told by those publishers that what they're being sold is identical to what those guys in the bookstores get. It's a rare author who goes into it without thinking they'll be the exception; they'll be the one who sells thousands and gets noticed by Random House or SMP or Harlequin.

I'm not threatened by the SP authors; they're barely a blip on the radar when it comes to sales. But I don't want to let the slushpile through to the mainstream reading public. They don't deserve to throw their money away on that.

kaitie
12-03-2009, 07:45 PM
Is this not a fear, a consciousness of how others are graded? One's system being threatened? First off, though, readers aren't going to give books a good grade out of sympathy. Nor are reviewers or prestigious literary lists/awards.
.

You missed my comparison. I wasn't saying the readers were like those being graded. I was saying that those supporting self-publishing are the ones being graded. Overgeneralized statement and not true of everyone, of course. Just a tendency.

DeadlyAccurate
12-03-2009, 07:49 PM
Another thought:

I like to listen to music (not exactly a world-shattering revelation, I know, but bear with me). I don't care if the music comes from big commercial bands signed with major record labels or a tiny indie band putting out their music from their apartment. If I like the music, I like it.

But I don't want to be the one who sorts the good stuff from the bad. I trust someone else to do that, whether it's a radio DJ, Pandora, last.fm, or AW member dempsey (she's introduced me to more new bands in the last two years than you can imagine).

I want an editor to stand between me and the bands and tell me, "This one's good, but those guys are apparently playing the guitar with their teeth. And they're tone deaf." Will I like everything they say is good? Absolutely not. (I don't even like everything dempsey suggests). But they'll be right more often than not, and they can certainly keep the stuff that sounds like it was put out by coked-out monkeys away from my delicate ears.

willietheshakes
12-03-2009, 08:53 PM
I'm fine with the way the system is now. SP internet websites are available and separate, it seems, from the general fiction sections at bookstores. Let the market decide what to market, how, etc. Let SP exist and judge books on their insides. If you want to stick to authors you know or traditional books only, do it. No one's stopping you nor is it hard to differentiate upon searching. Is anyone getting lost wandering through the aisles of B&N? Forgive me but all the "SP is bad" stuff does sound a lot like sour grapes or complaining, when really it seems so irrational.

Could you please point out the posts where anybody suggested that SP shouldn't exist? Because this reads a LOT like a straw man argument...

willietheshakes
12-03-2009, 08:55 PM
Just FTR, I'm not trying to self-publish. I'm just in support of anyone who wants to get their writing out there. I'm also not delusional about the kinds of shelf-space these books will get. I'm not saying I shuold go into a big bookstore and find SP books everywhere. No. Not at all. I'm just fighting for a writer's right to print something at their own cost or throw it on a website and market it themselves.

First off, the "you" was generic -- apologies that you took it personally.

Secondly, who, exactly, is trying to deny the right to self-publish? Again, this reads like a straw man.

scarletpeaches
12-03-2009, 08:56 PM
Could you please point out the posts where anybody suggested that SP shouldn't exist? Because this reads a LOT like a straw man argument...Yes. I would like to know this too. :eek:

willietheshakes
12-03-2009, 08:58 PM
Yes. I would like to know this too. :eek:

:roll:

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 09:02 PM
No worries. My wife is in a final. I'm just here in the library enjoying the quietness of books. :)

So, to try to tackle this or maybe better define my stance...


I do agree that books that are self-published to niche markets, etc. do deserve to be easily accessible to those who wish to buy them. And I assume that in general they are because they are niche, meaning there is an established market for them and the author can market directly to those five hundred or however many people searching for those books in one way shape or form. Okay. Yes. This makes sense.


As for it not being democratic...first of all we're talking about business. You can talk about the power of the market all you want. And that's precisely what publishers are doing if you want to get picky about it. They publish books that are likely to appeal to a large group of people. At the moments vampires are selling like hotcakes. So they go buy more vampire books. Maybe next year it will be aliens. Maybe right now literary fiction isn't selling well and therefore fewer are being printed. I don't really see how that's not essentially democratic considering books are printed based on what the buyer would like. Yes...my point isn't that all books should be picked up by publishers, get free access to marketing people, equal play in every market. I think the market does what it does and I'm not going to fuck with it.


Your argument seems to be that all books should be out there with equal access and marketing and what not, and I'd like you to mention a single business that uses this as the business model. If you have the income to hire a marketing person, why not have access to marketing? That's capitalism, though, not democracy so I see what you mean.


And who on earth is talking about censorship? I haven't seen anything about censorship because you don't like the language. Are you saying poor quality works are being censored because they're not published by a major publisher?

Not censored as in altered in content. As in, barred from certain aspects of the market as a whole rather than assessed as individuals. This is mechanical rather than human, IMO. I look at this in a more general way than "the publishing industry." It's the kind of principles (principals? I always screw that up...) I apply to everything. I do think it's okay for gatekeepers to be there, in case people want them. I do think they play a vital role. Hell, why else would I be seeking the traditional route? But as a reader, and I am one as much as anyone else, I want access to anything. I want to be able to give joe shmo the chance to wow me. I don't think big publishing houses are the final word on all quality works. I like reading things that often don't sell well but which I think are brilliant and engaging. So, what I'm saying is, I don't want others' gatekeepers telling me what is acceptable to read. That is bullshit. I learned basic grammar in kindergarden and I as a reader know what's a good read to me, not the writers or the industry. The reader is the powerhouse of what makes stories work. We consider them above all else, or, should IMO.


If you can't write worth a darn and want your work out there then go put it online, like you said. No one is censoring anything, unless you write a book that is so controversial stores won't stock it or something, which doesn't happen often. And often controversial stuff sells more anyway. Agreed. And not being in stores because of controversy isn't what I'd say is censorship, I think it's a marketing decision by individual industries or companies. It's their business choosing not to invest in someone else's because it will do them economic harm (or so they feel). That's okay of poor quality books, also. Fine. Excellent. I'm not saying SP books deserve shelf space. Let businesses decide what they want to invest in. What I'm against is the sentiment that having easier access to printing=a threat to publishing. It just seems not to follow logically.


You also haven't addressed at all how anyone is supposed to know that a book is high-quality. Yes we can judge writing, but how do we judge plot and characterization and that sort of thing? We trust that someone has read through to make sure they're not completely ridiculous (well, for newbies anyway. established writers can obviously get by with quite a bit). How do we know that if no one has read through it to say? I don't want to know the whole plot of a book before I read it, which is the only way I can imagine knowing. By all means, flaunt the fact that a book has gone through an editing process by professionals of a given genre. Flaunt the fact that it wowed a group of editors that have brought the genre to esteem over many years. Let it be known you were accepted by people who generally know what readers want of them. That's a magnificent marketing angle. That's a great way to let people know it will be free of a majority of errors, sparkly, etc. Again, we're talking about selling in the general established marketplace of novels, right?

I thought the argument was easier access to publishing (which is just printing, isn't it?) is BAD because it will inundate the market with CRAP CRAP CRAP. And then people will read crap and they won't read our brilliant books! I just don't think that's the case. People who love certain genres or styles will continue to go through the sources that bring them the best of that. That's why I wonder...or...worry that authors are reacting because they're afraid to lose their entitlement as authors.


I think the main argument I'm making here isn't against all self-publishing. There are certain circumstances when it's useful. If you're writing to a small market, that market will find your books and one would hope be able to do so easily. That's good. Some books might be really brilliant but just not come at the right time or somehow fell through the cracks, and those are the ones that sell anyway, so obviously people are finding them. Yes, I actually think the way the market is now works perfectly fine. People are still trusting the big boys, mostly, to provide them with quality. That is where the sales are. If you want something less mainstream, it's out there at the click of a button for readers. Again, my argument isn't that we should adjust the market to force lesser quality books with less marketing behind them into shelves next to the ones who went through the process of a professional marketplace. My argument has more to do with access to publishing.


The issue is saying that all or even most writers deserve to be published. They don't. There, I've said it and I'm a horrible bitch for doing so, but it's true. What I don't understand is the concept that in a professional field--one which people are expected to pay money for--everyone should be given an equal shot. We want quality, period. We expect quality. Not everyone is going to be able to reach that level. Those who do will require lots of hard work or just insane amounts of talent (I'm in the former category btw, I'm not all that talented). Some of us may never make it. Oh well. Again, equating quality to someone else's specific set of standards, and I think by publishing you must mean...represented by a publishing house? Because I simply mean printing and getting readers however you can. If your book sucks at playing its own game it ain't gonna sell, anyway. Even to readers who give you a shot. I'm not talking about SP authors deserving to "make it" either. Readers determine what they wish to read. I'm talking about a shot, as in, sell books from your trunk at readings, engage with local bookstores, talk to your local daily or weekly or whatever about a story. Do it how you can. Not everyone's goal is to be on a B&N shelf or to make millions of dollars. Some of us just want to write and to be read, and to connect on that beautiful level writing connects.


I do wushu for fun. Am I ever going to be throwing 720 degree twist kicks? Not a chance in hell. Am I ever going to be winning national competitions? Nope. Does it mean I can't work hard and enjoy it? Not in the least. I used to be a competitive gymnast. I dreamed for years of going to the Olympics, but it wasn't going to happen a) because of my really crappy ankles and b) because I started far too late to build up that level of skill. I never made it that far. Did it ruin my life? No. I see it more as something like, one writer wants to do 720 degree twist kicks, but another wants to sumersault naked. Obviously they're each very different things. But if the writer doesn't have the skill to pull either off, they'll just be naked idiots. And we all know what a naked idiot looks like.


I love to write. I write because I enjoy it. I will continue to write no matter what. Yes, my dream is to be published. Hell, my dream is to be published and be able to make a living at it and not have to work a "real" job. Yes, this is my dream. But just having that dream doesn't mean I am capable of getting there--and just because it's my dream doesn't mean it should just be handed to me. I'll work my ass off for it and if I never get there so be it. Life is like that sometimes. Totally agree. Hard work is part of it. I don't think SP authors deserve handouts. They deserve to pay for printing at prices deemed appropriate by that marketplace. Then to do the work for the desired outcome.


I feel like that's the argument I'm hearing. Everyone should be given the same chance. And we all have the same chance. Going back to that Olympic runner metaphor mentioned above. We're all running in the same race. There are only 3 medals. Our chance comes in the running. Our chance comes in the training and time and effort we put into our craft. We already have a chance.

But see, the runners don't realize that maybe there's another race going on somewhere else. Maybe the track isn't circular. And it's okay for both tracks to exist.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 09:09 PM
Could you please point out the posts where anybody suggested that SP shouldn't exist? Because this reads a LOT like a straw man argument...

Then perhaps we are fighting over nothing, and perhaps I have missed the point.

It seemed as though the whole argument was about writers' access to publishing, which I think is a fine thing.

Momento Mori
12-03-2009, 09:15 PM
The Lonely One:
Not censored as in altered in content. As in, barred from certain aspects of the market as a whole rather than assessed as individuals.

How are self-published authors barred from certain aspects of the market and what aspects are they barred from?

To my mind, the biggest barrier to self-published authors is money. If you've got the money to get your books stored in bookshops and run a full and effective marketing campaign, then you have an equal chance of making sales to put you on a par with the commercial companies.

If you don't have the money, then you have much less of a chance. However, that economic barrier is no different to the one that small, advance paying publishers face.


The Lonely One:
People are still trusting the big boys, mostly, to provide them with quality.

It's not about trust, it's about availability. The big boys have the resources and the money to make books available to the public, ergo the public are more likely to buy books published by the big boys.


The Lonely One:
I don't think SP authors deserve handouts. They deserve to pay for printing at prices deemed appropriate by that marketplace. Then to do the work for the desired outcome.


Deserve doesn't come into it because by definition, self-publishing does not rely on merit-based evaluation.

In fact, because the odds are stacked so heavily against you making any money from a self-published book, it is perfectly possible to do a heck of a lot of publicity and marketing and down-right schilling of a book 20 hours a day, 7 days a week and still not make back the initial outlay.

MM

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 09:22 PM
Out of all my rambling, my only point is that freedom of the speech is important. Quality as deemed by others does not play into that right.

What the marketplace does with it is a separate function from the actual process of "publishing," which again, I mean printing and binding, which are services one can pay for.

CaroGirl
12-03-2009, 09:22 PM
Again, equating quality to someone else's specific set of standards
Some aspects of quality are subjective. I, personally, like stories that make sense and don't have too many elves in them. But some aspects of quality are undeniably objective. Plot holes, inconsistencies, and just plain bad grammar (not to mention typos) make a book bad. The gatekeepers help to make sure that doesn't happen. I happen to prefer it that way.



But see, the runners don't realize that maybe there's another race going on somewhere else. Maybe the track isn't circular. And it's okay for both tracks to exist.
Anyone who doesn't know SP exists is either living in a hole in the ground or doesn't have Internet, or both. The technology exists to do it yourself, and the books exist for any reader who wants them. So, what's the problem with that?

veinglory
12-03-2009, 09:24 PM
Your average reader, in my experience, is rather fuzzy on self-publishing and cannot spot whether or not a given book is self-published.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 09:27 PM
Some aspects of quality are subjective. I, personally, like stories that make sense and don't have too many elves in them. But some aspects of quality are undeniably objective. Plot holes, inconsistencies, and just plain bad grammar (not to mention typos) make a book bad. The gatekeepers help to make sure that doesn't happen. I happen to prefer it that way.


To this I disagree. EVERYTHING is subjective (well...in my philosophy. Maybe I live on my own mountain :)). Dynamics of plot are representative of a plot system. Not all creative writing follows a plot system.

Like I said, keep the gatekeepers, don't force them on me (readerwise not writerwise). Then everyone is happy.

But FTR I agree with the other things you said.

CaroGirl
12-03-2009, 09:28 PM
Your average reader, in my experience, is rather fuzzy on self-publishing and cannot spot whether or not a given book is self-published.
That's fine, though, right? This given reader will then have the ability to decide on the book's own merit whether to purchase it, or whether, in the end (if she finishes it) it was worth reading.

Bubastes
12-03-2009, 09:28 PM
Out of all my rambling, my only point is that freedom of the press is important.

ANYONE can publish online. ANYONE can buy a package through Lulu. Heck, ANYONE can photocopy their work at Kinkos and pound the pavement to sell it. Heck, I see a few authors every year trying to sell their self-pubbed books at the community-wide garage sale (the pages I read were utter crap, unfortunately).

No one is stopping anyone from self-publishing. If freedom of the press was your point, then I have no idea what you're arguing about.

veinglory
12-03-2009, 09:29 PM
As a reader I think some things are very close to being objective. Such as a complete and non-deliberate inability to spell. It may bother some people more than others, but it is a rare person who preferrs their book with this quality.

CaroGirl
12-03-2009, 09:30 PM
To this I disagree. EVERYTHING is subjective.
To this I disagree.

We all have the opportunity to read self-published books, if we can find them. Finding them depends on the author's ability to get it out there and accessible.

I've read self-published books. Give me the gatekeepers. Please.

Bubastes
12-03-2009, 09:32 PM
To this I disagree. EVERYTHING is subjective.

Have you read through a slush pile or critted or judged a writing contest? There are plenty of things that are truly, objectively crap.

veinglory
12-03-2009, 09:33 PM
That's fine, though, right? This given reader will then have the ability to decide on the book's own merit whether to purchase it, or whether, in the end (if she finishes it) it was worth reading.

Of course it is fine. The issue is less with the reader than with distribution systems.

Offline you have to have the distributor think the book is worth distributing. That is an unavoidable kind of gatekeeper. The distributor only carries product that with maintain their reputation with the buyers, the buyers only stock what will maintain their reputation with the readers. It is not deliberate oppression, just a bunch of people trying to stay in business.

Online there are not quite the same costs and put people at Amazon and Powells etc still tend to make less "vetted" material float to the bottom where only people looking for it are likely to be bothered by it. Even Lulu is now carrying non-self-published ebooks, presumably with the goal of building their customer base.

CaroGirl
12-03-2009, 09:33 PM
Deliberately experimental fiction is very different from just not knowing what the hell you're doing. Experimental fiction gets traditionally published all the time. I read a lot of it.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 09:34 PM
Okay everyone I love you all. Jesus. I think I'm faint. Need to eat, and then write.

The writing is key :)

veinglory
12-03-2009, 09:35 PM
I've read self-published books. Give me the gatekeepers. Please.

For a specialist topic not well served by the commerical presses I will do my own gate-keeping (read the previes etc). But for most kinds of general fiction the motivation is not there for me. The mainstream system is easier and cheaper.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 09:38 PM
I've read self-published books. Give me the gatekeepers. Please.

Heh. Exactly my point. Keep the gatekeepers. Keep them, all of them. I'd never dream of taking them away from you, because I don't want them.

geardrops
12-03-2009, 09:40 PM
Donno if it's been said, but I'm going to chime in with a parallel between publishing and music.

As was mentioned before, I loves me my music. I've caught a lot of bands off their raw demos, before they were picked up by major labels (and subsequently had their music polished to all get-out). I've also had bands I love never get picked up by major labels, or get picked up by smaller labels, whatever.

But I was able to go to their site and sample them and see if I liked what I heard. For free. When I'm in the mood for something new, I'll go to Allmusic.com, pick a band I like, and keep chasing the chain of "bands like this" until I hit a point where I don't know the bands. I'll check out the list from Soundcheck (local radio show), stuff friends like, or I'll hit up youtube and just keep chasing videos until I hear something new. Accidental misspelled searches have yielded epic bands.

So I'm just saying. If something like this happened for fiction? I'd love it. I can be my own gatekeeper. Because even if something is published, it doesn't mean I'll like it. And just because something isn't published, doesn't mean it's crap.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 09:42 PM
The music thing is a great example (saw your post after, sorry).

But it is all hypothetical argument, because it does exist, as you all have pointed out. It is available. So I must stop this mad train that seems to come rolling through on occasion.

Do we agree the system that works works? Fine. Then I offer complimentary biscuits and return to my writing with great haste.

:)

willietheshakes
12-03-2009, 09:42 PM
Out of all my rambling, my only point is that freedom of the speech is important.

A point which NO ONE has objected to.

Hence my earlier references to straw men.

The Lonely One
12-03-2009, 09:44 PM
A point which NO ONE has objected to.

Hence my earlier references to straw men.

My misunderstanding. I apologize. I thought someone had objected to access to publishing. Again. Apologies and biscuits.

Axler
12-03-2009, 09:45 PM
I just am going to express a personal pet-peeve thing because I hate seeing things like, "so-called editors" (though amusingly spelled wrong).

Well, transpositions happen to the best of us when you're typing fast early in the day. I'm entitled to the occasional typo.


I'm one of those crazy writers who doesn't actually think the industry is out to get us.

Hm...I don't recall anybody posting that belief in this thread. Cut and paste?


But those editors also do a valuable service, rather than simply deciding who to publish and who "shouldn't have a career." They edit. Then they give it to copy-editors who edit as well. They help improve the writer's work and bring it up to a publishable quality.

Er... Copy-editors are pretty much a position of the past. The bean-counters alluded to in an earlier post determined several years ago that copy-editors were not particularly necessary to getting a product out to the bookstores. Publishers might occasionally farm out line-editing to freelancers, but copy-editor staff positions are almost extinct.

And even if the current crop of people who hold the title of "editors" had the experience to bring up a writer's work to "publishable quality", they simply don't have the time.

That's one reason so many books put out by the major houses are riddled with grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors....not much different than the average self-published book.


I don't know anything about you and whether or not you are published, but what you are talking about with your friends is not a normal situation.

Well, that's why you should have followed the link I provided in my first post in this thread...or you could've clicked on my name so you could peruse my vital statistics and credentials.

I never said it was a normal situation...but unfortunately it's becoming that way. You're basically citing the "How to Get Published" okey-doke chapter and verse...which holds little practical use nowdays.

It's a different landscape in traditional publishing than it was 18 months ago...and it doesn't show any signs of changing for the better. Quite the opposite.

So, those of us who have been professional writers for many years don't necessarily feel inclined to play by the same old rules when the publishers aren't.

For whatever reason the situation has changed--accountants supplanting editors as the final authority, the market being soft, whatever--it doesn't doesn't alter today's publishing realities.

The way of doing business with traditional publishers is fundamentally different now. Therefore, the standard view of self-publishing among a lot of professional writers is fundamentally different as well.

Momento Mori
12-03-2009, 09:53 PM
Axler:
The way of doing business with traditional publishers is fundamentally different now. Therefore, the standard view of self-publishing among a lot of professional writers is fundamentally different as well.

Of course professional writers (in the sense of those who have been commercially published) are in a slightly different situation when it comes to self-publishing, in that there will presumably already be an audience out there familiar with the author's work. They are therefore not faced with the same degree of struggle in trying to get people to notice their work.

MM

veinglory
12-03-2009, 09:58 PM
I have been thrilled to see some of my out-of-print favs reappear in self-published editions.

willietheshakes
12-03-2009, 09:58 PM
Well, that's why you should have followed the link I provided in my first post in this thread...or you could've clicked on my name so you could peruse my vital statistics and credentials.

I never said it was a normal situation...but unfortunately it's becoming that way. You're basically citing the "How to Get Published" okey-doke chapter and verse...which holds little practical use nowdays.

It's a different landscape in traditional publishing than it was 18 months ago...and it doesn't show any signs of changing for the better. Quite the opposite.

So, those of us who have been professional writers for many years don't necessarily feel inclined to play by the same old rules when the publishers aren't.

For whatever reason the situation has changed--accountants supplanting editors as the final authority, the market being soft, whatever--it doesn't doesn't alter today's publishing realities.

The way of doing business with traditional publishers is fundamentally different now. Therefore, the standard view of self-publishing among a lot of professional writers is fundamentally different as well.

I wasn't going to take this in a personal direction, but seeing as you have suggested people do...

I think your perspective and your prejudices are coloured by your recent experiences. And that's fine -- that's the way it works. However, extrapolating from your personal experience to the industry as a whole is misleading, and erroneous.

Your publishing work and history were not representative of "how publishing works" when you were on good terms and when it was working -- I realize it's different, but yours was much closer to a work-for-hire relationship than a "traditional" publishing relationship. As a result, you have a keen awareness of, and perspective on, a particular niche of the industry which applies to few people.

Was there a Black Wednesday? Yes. Were editors fired? Yes. Those things are empirically true.

But to say that editors "simply don't have the time" is NOT empirically true. To say that "the current crop" lacks experience? Also not empirically true. To say that "the way of doing business with traditional publishers is fundamentally different now"? Also not empirically true. And, frankly, not something that I believe you are qualified to speak on as an experienced insider, citing your long publication history, etc.

I get it -- you're coming at this from a position of anger. From the sounds of things, you got fucked over, and royally.

But I don't think that people should necessarily take your remarks as gospel.

Bubastes
12-03-2009, 09:59 PM
But as a reader, and I am one as much as anyone else, I want access to anything. I want to be able to give joe shmo the chance to wow me.

Start looking at Lulu.com. Knock yourself out.


But see, the runners don't realize that maybe there's another race going on somewhere else. Maybe the track isn't circular. And it's okay for both tracks to exist.

If they don't know about self-publishing as an option, they're not looking. At all.

Axler
12-03-2009, 10:29 PM
I wasn't going to take this in a personal direction, but seeing as you have suggested people do...

And exactly what quote of mine are you (mis)interpreting wherein I suggested "people do"?


I think your perspective and your prejudices are coloured by your recent experiences. And that's fine -- that's the way it works. However, extrapolating from your personal experience to the industry as a whole is misleading, and erroneous.

By the same token...I think your perspective comes from a place of defensive denial.

Unless you can "empirically" prove my experiences are isolated to me and a few others, then the way you put forth your position boils down to little more than stating "Nuh-UH!"

If I cared to, I could provide several other recent examples...but without their permission, I'm not going to name the names of the writers involved...and it's far more than a couple.


But I don't think that people should necessarily take your remarks as gospel.

Huh.
What a coincidence...I think the same thing about your remarks. So I reckon we're on the same page about some things.

willietheshakes
12-03-2009, 10:39 PM
And exactly what quote of mine are you (mis)interpreting wherein I suggested "people do"?

I'm sorry -- clearly "Well, that's why you should have followed the link I provided in my first post in this thread...or you could've clicked on my name so you could peruse my vital statistics and credentials." meant something else entirely -- my bad.



By the same token...I think your perspective comes from a place of defensive denial.

What am I denying?
I'm deep in revisions with a dedicated editor at Random House. I'm not being defensive -- I'm saying that you're painting too broad a swath, and what you claim to be true... isn't.

Unless you can "empirically" prove my experiences are isolated to me and a few others, then the way you put forth your position boils down to little more than stating "Nuh-UH!"

If I cared to, I could provide several other recent examples...but without their permission, I'm not going to name the names of the writers involved...and it's far more than a couple.

(shrugs)
Okay.
I mean, if its affecting large groups of people who can't be named, but you know them so you know it's true and we'll just have to take your word for it, then I'm sure you're right. I'll just put aside my personal experience, and the personal experiences of dozens of writers of my acquaintance and acquiesce to your clearly unbiased and unprejudiced analysis of the industry.



Huh.
What a coincidence...I think the same thing about your remarks. So I reckon we're on the same page about some things.



You'll have to point out what sweeping statements I've made that I think people should be taking as gospel...

GregB
12-03-2009, 10:46 PM
Unless you can "empirically" prove my experiences are isolated to me and a few others, then the way you put forth your position boils down to little more than stating "Nuh-UH!"


Are there maybe two questions here? First, is the midlist an endangered species in commercial publishing? I think a lot of us fear that it is.

But then the followup: Is self-publishing a viable alternative for a career-oriented professional fiction writer? I think almost all of us think it's not, and I think the available evidence supports this position. Almost no one self-publishing fiction is earning a professional wage, and the vast majority are losing money. Are you one of the rare exceptions? Will you share some numbers with us?

Finally, many of us suspect the self-publishing model will never be capable of supporting a professional writing career because revenues are produced in that model by selling print services to as many would-be writers as possible -- not by filling a market demand for prose fiction.

veinglory
12-03-2009, 11:17 PM
Unless you can "empirically" prove my experiences are isolated to me and a few others, then the way you put forth your position boils down to little more than stating "Nuh-UH!"

The burden of proof falls on the person asserting the 'fact' (as relating to all people not just themself).

Self-publishing has been around for a long time. But in the great majority of cases it is for people who publisher for art, hobby or philosophical cause reasons, or as suplimentary income--not professionally. Much the same could be said for epublishing (with exceptions).

Axler
12-03-2009, 11:21 PM
Willie--

This boils down to I have my experiences to draw upon and you have yours. You read a lot things into my posts that just were not there. I never stated, implied, inferred or even whispered that my experiences were gospel.

That was your take and it was erroneous. I know what my intent was.

And it is contained in my response to this:


Finally, many of us suspect the self-publishing model will never be capable of supporting a professional writing career because revenues are produced in that model by selling print services to as many would-be writers as possible -- not by filling a market demand for prose fiction.

Greg, your suspicions are well-founded and grounded in reality.

Regardless, I stand by my statement that traditional publishing has changed in the last year.

I also stand by my statement that professional writers don't necessarily have to abide by those changes if they want to their work to reach readers.

Granted, some of us have the advantage over most self-published writers because we're starting out with a pre-existing audience and readership...but we had that same pre-existing audience before Black Wednesday.

It was the publisher's attitude toward mid-list fiction that changed, not the audience. The audience is still there...it's just now more difficult to reach that audience with our work.

Therefore, rather than have our careers circumscribed by an attitude change brought on for the most by mismanagement, publishing our own work to reach our audience is a viable alternative. Not a perfect alternative, but at least we have one.

I've only self-published graphic novels in the last year or so...all I can say is, they are all profitable and continue to be. Not big money, but it's fast and regular money. We've had to go back to press on two of them.

kaitie
12-04-2009, 08:44 AM
Well, transpositions happen to the best of us when you're typing fast early in the day. I'm entitled to the occasional typo.



Hm...I don't recall anybody posting that belief in this thread. Cut and paste?



Er... Copy-editors are pretty much a position of the past. The bean-counters alluded to in an earlier post determined several years ago that copy-editors were not particularly necessary to getting a product out to the bookstores. Publishers might occasionally farm out line-editing to freelancers, but copy-editor staff positions are almost extinct.

And even if the current crop of people who hold the title of "editors" had the experience to bring up a writer's work to "publishable quality", they simply don't have the time.

That's one reason so many books put out by the major houses are riddled with grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors....not much different than the average self-published book.



Well, that's why you should have followed the link I provided in my first post in this thread...or you could've clicked on my name so you could peruse my vital statistics and credentials.

I never said it was a normal situation...but unfortunately it's becoming that way. You're basically citing the "How to Get Published" okey-doke chapter and verse...which holds little practical use nowdays.

It's a different landscape in traditional publishing than it was 18 months ago...and it doesn't show any signs of changing for the better. Quite the opposite.

So, those of us who have been professional writers for many years don't necessarily feel inclined to play by the same old rules when the publishers aren't.

For whatever reason the situation has changed--accountants supplanting editors as the final authority, the market being soft, whatever--it doesn't doesn't alter today's publishing realities.

The way of doing business with traditional publishers is fundamentally different now. Therefore, the standard view of self-publishing among a lot of professional writers is fundamentally different as well.

First, my comment had to do with connotation and the fact that it looked similar to other similar comments I've seen often with the same type of language use. You may not have intended it that way, but to my mind, there's a big difference between saying, "So-called editors" (implying that their function is either worthless or that they no longer exist or do their job) as opposed to simply "editors" is a big difference. I'm looking at the connotation in the words and what that looks like to me. Blame the English major in me who was taught to think of things this way, but considering we're all writers, we know and use words intentionally like this all the time. It's possible you didn't intend it the way it came off, but this is how it reads to me.

Also, I didn't check links because it was already after midnight and I had work this morning and my mother called and I didn't have time. Otherwise I would have looked up the answer. Also, note that I didn't just assume you were published or unpublished and said that to clarify that I wasn't speaking about you specifically.

And I still think what I said before. If you've already been published and had an audience, you are at a distinct advantage compared to the first time novelist. This is true. In fact, I think self-publishing for established authors is a great way to continue being published if you've been snubbed by a publishing company. I never said anything about it, and actually agreed that I thought in your circumstances it was a fine idea--just stated that I felt that it was not the same as being a first time novelist self-publishing a book.

As for copy-editors...okay maybe I know nothing. All of this is based on research. I read the same questions answered by numerous sources and the answers are almost always the same. Maybe I'm wrong and I think I added the caveat in here somewhere already that I'm not published and that I'm basing this on what I've read.

From what I've read, even publishers who don't do much editing in the traditional sense will still have a copy-editor to at least make the work presentable and correct spelling and grammar errors. Books still need to be edited to a house style. Now, without a doubt a lot of editors have lost their jobs and writers may not get the same level of service as before, but they aren't getting no service. I'm going to assume that when you say the position has been eliminated, you're also saying that the service of copy-editing has been delegated to someone else, not that it is just no longer done. Again, maybe I just don't know anything.

And yes, publishing is changing and it's different now than it was eighteen months ago. Yes, ebooks are going to change the face of publishing in general but still haven't caught on, and that's going to change the way things are done too. But new writers are still being published, and their work is still being edited. And they still have a better chance with this than self-publishing.

I'm not trying to be rude here, so I hope I don't come off that way. I'm just working through the argument in what I see as a logical fashion. If I'm wrong, that's cool. I just need to be shown the evidence of it because I've seen so much to the opposite effect. Of course, I could always just be a delusional wannabe author. Always a possibility.

kaitie
12-04-2009, 09:06 AM
Willie--

This boils down to I have my experiences to draw upon and you have yours. You read a lot things into my posts that just were not there. I never stated, implied, inferred or even whispered that my experiences were gospel.

That was your take and it was erroneous. I know what my intent was.

And it is contained in my response to this:



Greg, your suspicions are well-founded and grounded in reality.

Regardless, I stand by my statement that traditional publishing has changed in the last year.

I also stand by my statement that professional writers don't necessarily have to abide by those changes if they want to their work to reach readers.

Granted, some of us have the advantage over most self-published writers because we're starting out with a pre-existing audience and readership...but we had that same pre-existing audience before Black Wednesday.

It was the publisher's attitude toward mid-list fiction that changed, not the audience. The audience is still there...it's just now more difficult to reach that audience with our work.

Therefore, rather than have our careers circumscribed by an attitude change brought on for the most by mismanagement, publishing our own work to reach our audience is a viable alternative. Not a perfect alternative, but at least we have one.

I've only self-published graphic novels in the last year or so...all I can say is, they are all profitable and continue to be. Not big money, but it's fast and regular money. We've had to go back to press on two of them.


I know, I know...way too many double posts, but I want to respond to specifics in here. I don't think anyone will argue that publishing hasn't changed in the past year, or that it will continue (and MUST continue to change or it's going to go the way of newspapers). I imagine it will change in a successful way but may have a few bumps in the road. The thing is, every industry has changed in the past year. Companies have been forced to change. The economy has been bad and people weren't buying, which meant companies were losing money and forced to change as a result.

The thing is...this happens. Things can't always go up up up. There are ups and downs in any industry, some obviously worse than others. My personal suspicion is that the publishing industry is going to do the same thing it's always done...find a way back out. It isn't the first recession or the first time publishers have been forced to change. Am I afraid it might mean fewer midlist authors? Yeah, a bit. But I also think that chances are when the economy picks up again and more people are buying things again, there will hopefully be more editors hired again, etc. I don't really know that, I'm just looking at the cyclical nature of economic downturns in general. Things get bad, people get fired, things change and tighten up, then things get better and more people are hired and things are loosened again.

I do worry about the midlist writer, but I've also always known how incredibly hard it is for any writer who isn't a bestseller to make a living from it. If you write sci-fi or romance or mystery it might be a bit easier if you can market a series and continue with that. It's awesome if you can. I know that there's a really good chance I could get published once or twice and then never have a chance again.

I also agree, however, with the person who said that self-publishing probably won't fill in that gap the same way traditional publishing would. In traditional publishing, the writer doesn't really have to take the risks. If we don't sell, we just don't sell. We don't get the royalties. But if we self-publish, we're out everything we spent on marketing, on the printing, on editing. It's more like a small business, and small businesses are really hard to keep going.

My guess is that epublishing will actually open up some doors to midlisters. It will allow their books to stay in print longer without as much risk to the publisher. That's just a random guess on my part, but I'm just trying to say that things are changing, but there's a chance that they're going to change in our favor. They might not, as well, but the chance is there.