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Common ground, common sense, and one view of self-publishing

I recently read a blog post by Tahlia Newland entitled “Opinion: The Core Problem with Self-Publishing is Quality Assurance.” The post was well thought out, actually, and there was a lot that I agreed with her about. However, my one big issue was her solution: having self-published authors submit their work to big publishing houses for their opinions before publishing to determine whether the book is “good enough.”

Ms. Newland suggests that every self-publishing author submit their book to publishers and await feed back before deciding whether to publish or not. Her reasoning is that 10% of books submitted to publishers were well written, but not good enough for the publisher to sell, so if you’re lucky enough to have your book fall under that category, then you “deserve” to self-publish.  I have a problem with that.

When did self-publishing become about who deserves to be out on the market and who doesn’t? I mean, let’s take a look at E.L. James. Her books are laughably terrible, poorly constructed, and worse than a majority of what is on the self-publishing market. However, E.L. James has become an international best seller and she was deemed good enough to fall in to the 5% of authors worthy of being picked up by a publisher. Just looking at her, do we really want to allow the traditional publishing houses to dictate the self-publishing market? Are their opinions really gospel? Hell no.

There are tons and tons of self-publishing authors who probably shouldn’t be releasing their material. First drafts and hack jobs that certainly need to be revised are more than common. But who are we to tell these people to stop doing what they love? Is crap work saturating the market? Sure! But it is not my place, it is not anyone’s place, to tell these people to stop. There are a few exceptions to this rule (hate books being towards the top of that list), but there is not a self-publishing police, nor should there be.

My friend Tricia always says that regardless of how crappy a book is, we should respect the fact that that author had the courage to share a part of their inner being with the world. Being mentally prepared to take people’s negative opinions and get over the fear of being a failure takes a lot of moxie that many people don’t have. They fear rejection. We all do. But when you are self-publishing, you’re saying to the world that you don’t accept that fear. That’s really something.

I have found several rotten books in the self-publish bunch, and that sucks, but if we continue to further the “all self-published books are terrible” ideal, we are not doing ourselves any favors. By relying on the opinions of traditional publishing houses, we are telling all of those people that think self-publishing is a joke that they’re right. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to validate an opinion like that.


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