This morning as I was doing my usual reading, I came across the article Publishing is Broken, We’re Drowning in Indie Books- And That’s A Good Thing by Forbes Contributor David Vinjamuri that caught my attention. Not only did it capture my attention, it resurrected my dislike of uppity, discriminating, think-they’re-better-than-everyone-else traditionally published authors. It makes me sad because I truly don’t want to lump all traditional authors into the same category. But the blatant and outward disdain they show for indie authors, self-published authors is disgusting and prejudiced. Now, I get it. I understand the need to protect the integrity of industries. I wrestle with this in the recruiting industry. But to degrade and dismiss self-published authors is wrong and laughable.
There is a distinction between quality publishing and substandard publishing. And let the record show there is quality and crap on both sides of the publishing fence. So to make such an ignorant blanket generalization about self-published authors is stupid. I think the article was well written (a bit long-winded, but a great read). I am happy that the industry is changing and opening it up to those who otherwise probably wouldn’t get a chance (myself included). Any time there is something that purposely works to exclude others for trivial reasons, it upsets me. I could see if traditional authors could prove that all self-published authors produced horrible work. Then I’d see the point to being discriminating. But they can’t. In fact Amanda Hockings and John Locke bust their myth. And think about the indie authors with talent and great work who, because they’re not named brands, get passed over.
But as the article points out, self-publishing also opens the door to crap. Yes, I’ve seen tons of crap on Amazon that left me thinking why the heck did they publish this? I’m not excluded from this. The first run of my book Go Ahead, Talk to Strangers wasn’t exactly best seller quality. I’d like to think I’ve improved over the years. I work hard to improve the quality of my writing. Those luke-warm reviews do a lot to boost my skills, keep me humble and keep me on my toes. But I will agree with them that some self-published authors just continue to crank out nonsense simply because they can. So self-publishing can be a double edged sword. I readily admit that.
When I was developing The Business of Self-Publishing course, I found myself happy that I was creating something that could help struggling authors, yet angry that there were certain things authors had to do on their own because publishers don’t fully back them. The anger came from the fact that some of the things being done even had to be done by authors who traditionally published! It emphasized (for me) the fact that self-publishing was necessary to learn to survive for many authors. Traditional publishers don’t look out for their authors nor do they work to maximize profits for anyone but themselves. They make it necessary for authors to self-publish to make a somewhat decent living. I’m appalled that traditional writers find it necessary to lump all indie writers in the same substandard crap category without even acknowledging the hard work they must do. So you’re the only ones with talent and dedication to the craft simply because a publishing firm put your work out?
Trust me, we do work hard. *I* work hard, and I’m still learning. The implication that self-published authors don’t work as hard or pay our dues is insulting. In most cases, we work harder AND we still have to focus on ensuring we’re putting out a quality product, just like you do….or rather your publisher does. I don’t know of any traditional author who takes an active role in the back end of their book. You guys have “teams” for that. Most of us were not that privileged. We had to piece it together and find freelancers to help us out and pray we weren’t being taken advantage of.
Some of us will end up being built stronger and tougher, and we’ll perfect our writing because we have to go through self-publishing. And remember this. You struggled once too. But all you had to do was write the book and keep banging on doors until someone opened. We banged on doors but decided if we’re going to do this much work, why not make it a business that works to our advantage instead of trying to line the pockets of the very publishers who would turn their noses up at us. Who needs that headache and weak royalties? And we did the leg work, foot work, ground work, and every other work to just get the book on the market. There were no advances for us. No checks earned. No publicists on retainer. So think about that the next time you want to degrade us.
Unless you’re J.K. Rowlings, traditional publishers aren’t lifting a finger to promote or diversify your books. How many traditionally published authors take the time to worry about diversifying their books and extending its life beyond the bookshelf? And no, I’m not talking about turning it into an e-book or praying some Hollywood producer comes by and offers to turn it into a movie. While that is a big jackpot, it’s not a reality for every author.
So why all the hate? I don’t come down on anyone who decides to go the traditional route. If you can snag a contract, more power to you. I’m impressed. But don’t dismiss those who choose to do it on their own. Instead of criticizing, how about sharing advice and support? How about looking at things from the other side of the table? How about admitting you can learn a few things about the business from indies? Can’t we all just get along and bring great content to the world?
I love writing, but this is a business for me. I’m getting a thorough education in publishing via the school of public opinion and hard knocks. I’m glad the playing field has been leveled. It doesn’t mean I am going off half-cocked and producing a bunch of crap as a vanity project just to see my name on a cover. It means I’m learning the industry, paying attention to what my audience, staying up on the changing publishing landscape, and focusing on delivering value while protecting my bottom line. I make no apologies for it. I welcome the gift of on the job training.
Please weigh in with your thoughts on this article (and my post).
Til next time,
Self-published (published) and loving it!
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Adrienne Graham is the Founder & CEO of Empower Me! Corporation (www.empowerme.org). She is a strategist that helps people grow their career, business or network in any economy. She is the voice behind Views from the Top Radio Show, and the creative visionary behind Empower Me! Institute and Empower Me! Magazine. Her writing and shows focus on Career Management, Networking Strategies, Entrepreneurial Success and Small Business Management.
Adrienne Graham - Adrienne Graham is the Founder & CEO of Empower Me! Corporation (www.empowerme.org), a Growth Strategies consultancy with brand extensions in media, publishing and small business & entrepreneurial education. She is the host Views From the Top Radio Show and the publisher of Empower Me! Magazine. Her writing and shows focus on Career Management, Networking Strategies, Entrepreneurial Success and Small Business Management. And she is the founder of The Red Shoe Agency (www.theredshoeagency.com)- a consultancy that delivers talent acquisition & development strategies to attract, promote & retain more women in tech & engineering; and talent management services to women in technology & engineering.