Friday, July 13, 2012

Publishers vs the Self Published

On a different blog, someone named Sasha made these points about publishers and those that self-publish Bear in mind that non-indie are publishers, and those that self-publish are indie  -

"I should add that there are some things that don’t follow from the argument that I’m making (that it would be weird if a higher proportion of indie than non-indie books weren’t of lower quality):

(1) that there aren’t loads of indie books as good as the best non-indie books, more than one could ever read;

(2) that there aren’t loads of bad non-indie books;

(3) that publishers aren’t too restrictive in what they publish;

(4) that publishers don’t often turn down great books;

(5) that publishing as an indie isn’t a great idea and potentially more profitable for authors.

That being so, I genuinely don’t understand why it actually matters – really, matters at all – that a higher proportion of indie books might be below any given quality threshold than non-indie books. I don’t understand why the position that the two kinds of books have the same quality distribution is so hotly defended."

Here's my observations to each of her points -

1. Yes, it could be very likely that there are  more good indie books
than non-indiie books. No one really knows. But there's been some
really terrible non-indie books over the last year. Just take a look
at Frank Bill's Crimes of Southern Indiana. In the future I hope to
have an article on this entitled the The Crime of Frank Bill.

2. And yes, it's also likely that there's loads of bad indie books.
I'm really tempted here to make a comment about some of those writers,
in particular one mediocre and self-centered "author" who never tires
about promoting himself, and enjoys entitling his books after mixed

But seriously, many of these indie authors really aren't sincere about
what they're doing, and are amateurs in the sense that they really
don't care if they sell any of their books or make any money. So
naturally you're going to have the quality of indie authors skewed in
the direction of bad books.

3. Publishers are very restrictive. They want a certain word count in
books and they will only consider those manuscripts that fit a list of
books they are looking to publish. Sometimes publishing editors can be
very stifling. One time I had to deal with a lady that didn't want me
to begin my sentences with but or suddenly, along with a whole bunch
of other silly restrictions. In the future I hope to do an article in
detail about this called The Editor from Hell. And really, it doesn't
matter how best selling or experienced you are as a writer. Even
Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter had to put up with editors needlessly
insisting on details or story plots that were completely irrelevant to
the writer's manuscript.

4. Publishers are famous for turning down great books. I've been told
Danielle Steele had 200 rejections before somebody picked her up. The
Harry Potter series almost didn't make it to print. Nobody thought
Mickey Spillane's first Mike Hammer would go anywhere. The publisher
that picked it up did it as a favor he owed to one of Spillane's
friends. It's really a wonder that anything good ever gets on the book
racks. And it gets worse every year.

5. If you can get a good literary agent, be with a decent publisher,
and have a good  and experienced editor that can coach you, then
you're much better off than publishing as an independent. You're also
going to have a lot more free time and a much more fulfilling life.
Sadly, today, that's almost becoming impossible to do.

Though I don't understand Sasha's last paragraph, I'll make this
point. If there's a level playing field for all writers in the
distribution of their books, then usually the best books and best
writers will be the most successful. Bear in mind, though, that this
has to be what the public decides are the best writers and best books.

As Mickey Spillane said - "I write what people like to read."

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