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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.

 

“Big time authors” vs. “Indie authors”

The line between self published authors (SPA) and traditionally published authors (TPA) also called “big time authors” is as solid as ever. Bloggers have visibly taken sides and things are getting messier than we’ve ever seen before. Authors on both sides of the fence are picking up pitch forks and sock accounts, attempting to ruin any author they see fit.

I was told this morning about another situation that involved a TPA taking it upon herself to trash an indie erotica author’s book because she found the idea of the book offensive. If you’re familiar with the story, please keep the major details to yourself. I am trying not to draw too much attention to the specifics of the matter. Any way, the TPA took to her blog to blast the book and its contents without even reading a single page. She decided that it was awful because the blurb sounded offensive to her. The TPA went even further to encourage her followers to pirate the book if they “simply ha[d] to read it” but that they should not pay a single penny for it. She acted as though her “big time” status gave her the right to pass judgement on others.

Now, the SPA did do something a bit offensive in reaction to the matter. She took to Facebook to say that her book should be in a national museum or something. I am positive that that was done in jest, but when emotions are running high, you don’t poke the bear. The TPA went back to her blog to share the post from the SPA and then encouraged her readers to attack the SPA further by saying “you know what to do.”

This scenario isn’t the first, and definitely won’t be the last. And of course, there are SPAs turning on SPAs. We should be trying to create a unified front by encouraging people to read, regardless of how we publish. However, I think there is a obvious reason for the dividing line. By referring to TPAs as “big time authors” is like giving them an open invitation to get a big head. And before anyone decides to go off on me, I’m not saying that this is an all encompassing sentiment, because it isn’t. My paternal grandmother was a TPA but she was the most down to earth person when it came to that sort of thing. She encouraged my writing. She wanted me to have those same literary opportunities that she had, but you know something? She never once spat on SPAs and I guarantee you that she would be proud that I took the initiative and got published.

The discussion of self-publishing came up between a friend and I recently and she said some pretty insightful things. [She knows who she is, but out of respect for her in this post, I won’t use her name.] She said that you can bash SPAs, even the ones that are prone to editing issues, but at least they did it. At least they took the initiative to put themselves out there… And she’s right.

All authors put their heart and soul into their work. One should not discount the other simply because of the means in which their work is published. But by calling TPAs “big time”,we are all further perpetuating the divide.

Anyway, sorry if this is rambly, but I wanted to say something. We are all working towards a common goal. We shouldn’t go out of our way to perpetuate this fight.

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