Recently I read a tweet from someone (a literary agent) who said that writers should not say that they’re a published author if they’ve self-published. This agent then went on to say that “…if you’ve just put a book out yrself, u have no right 2 call yrself an author. It’s a slap in the face 2 real authors.”
O. M. G.
The rage building up inside me right now is palpable. It’s actually making me shake. If you’ve read anything I’ve written on any social media platform before, you know that for the most part I tweet and blog about happy things like the rise of ebooks, the state of the industry, or that we’ve launched new books. But I just couldn’t let this one go without an answer. I really wanted to chime in on the conversation, but I didn’t. I simply unfollowed the ‘author’ who retweeted and therefore agreed with this asinine comment.
But, I feel the need to say this to anyone who writes. I am not a writer, but I was deeply offended by this snarky one-liner by someone who is obviously kow-towing to the existing and antiquated publishing industry dinosaurs. Publishing today is all about creators of art getting their work out to those who appreciate it in many different ways, shapes and forms. To discount the writers who self publish is completely backwards thinking. Industry forward thinkers like Mark Coker, JA Konrath, Amazon and the writers who exploit these new avenues are the ones who will win, and those who remain in the exclusionary thinking of the publishing industry from 500 years ago will have their place, but not in this brave new world.
As a publisher, it is my job to work with authors who create books. And I consider it a privilege. Being a publisher means that I see some sort of intrinsic value in the work that I am publishing. Yes, I am exclusionary – simply because I cannot take on every single book that is sent here. But really, I am no more than a gambler, a type of for-hire consultant who works with the author to bring their work to market for a price. Does inclusion in our catalog automatically validate and legitimize the books and authors in it? I don’t really think so, but many people do. It simply means that these are the authors I chose to work with – and there are many reasons for doing so. If an author decides to use another type of person who does the same thing that I do, (edit, design, typeset, distribute & market) and then bring that work to market themselves, then they are technically a self published author. And in the eyes of the folks quoted above, they and their work are not worth the paper they’re written on.
I feel like swearing. Actually I am, but I won’t write that out.
Many self-published authors sell better than those traditionally published by the big NY publishing houses. Many self-published authors have carved out a lifestyle for themselves regardless of the money they make or the number of books sold. I’m impressed by those people. More people should have the courage to be like them.
Okay, enough ranting on my part. I’m sure someone will pick holes in my argument, and I don’t really want to argue with anyone. What I do want is to remind people that there is value in what you create, and let those who choose to downplay what you do wallow in their own self-importance. For anyone who writes: please, please, please, for all of our sake, keep writing. Publish it in whatever way you choose. Or not. And make sure you call yourself an author, for that is what you are.