Publish the Way You Want. Ignore the Dinosaurs.

Don't end up like him.

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.

9 thoughts on “Publish the Way You Want. Ignore the Dinosaurs.

  1. William Topek (@WilliamTopek)

    Excellent post. The fact that you, a publisher, espouse this view says a lot about your future in the industry. Instead of simply supplanting one outdated model with another, and assuring writers they must have a publisher of some type, you focus on the heart of the business: getting writing to readers. Yes, there are a lot of less-than-stellar writers self-publishing these days. I figure there are nearly an equal proportion in traditional publishing.

  2. Michelle

    Hi William, Yes I struggle with the whole thing sometimes. I am bombarded with shouts of “Buy my book, it’s only $0.99!” by self-pubbed authors. And many, many of those are really not good. But some are. So let us decide what we want. Readers don’t care about the method the book got to them, they just want good books.
    But to have anyone discount your art because of the method of distribution usurps the power that the new models of today can give. Without the advent of the less-exclusionary publishing models exemplified in ebooks and digital printing, a small press like mine would not have even had a chance to get started. The wonderful thing about this new world is that readers can decide what they want to read and how they want to read it – not the church, not the state and not New York.

  3. Suzi

    Well said Michelle. Are you sure you’re “not a writer”? Lol. I’ve heard similar comments such as self-publishing doesn’t really mean you’ve really been published, ebooks aren’t “real” books and you can’t consider yourself a successful author unless you sell “said amount” of books, etc. It’s frustrating, offensive and downright infuriating at times but you are right – these people and their opinions will be left behind in the past. “Real” authors are artists whose creativity, talent and success cannot be defined by these out-dated and close-minded opinions.

  4. ladyelogos

    Joey: Love your comment about vanity press – and Michelle, I’ve been asked many, many, times why I’m not at home writing all day now that I am published. Uh, got to pay the rent. Many in the general public, readers included, think that if one is published, one has a steady income from book sales, and we get to show up on Charlie Rose and Jay Leno to push the product, have packed book signings at big stores, all expenses paid and a six-figure advance. Nope. Maybe one percent of us have that – the rest are struggling and like me, a mid-list author with modest notoriety but happy with what I truly believe is MY success as an author.

    The publishing industry is still permeated with snobbery and elitism.

  5. Tropico del Libro (@tropicodellibro)

    No one can decide what is a good book and what is not, and of course there are a bunch of people that think to have this power, the necessary authoritativeness to say that. But what you don’t say, is that dinosaurus are just changing, not vanishing… Google, Amazon, they are not “so” liberal.

  6. rosemaryvandeuren

    Informative, intelligent, refreshing and helpful. Lovely post. Thanks for saying the things that are hard for writers to say themselves.

  7. Michelle

    @ Joey & Tropico: thanks for stopping by and commenting. You’re absolutely right, with art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and publishers have to guess at what will sell and what won’t. Sometimes books take us by surprise but a lot of time we have a good idea of what the market is looking for. That said, just because the market is looking for something, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. Just look at the books coming out these days, autobios of pseudo celebrities – and they sell. Maybe people are just looking for something light to get away from the troubling news we’re so often bombarded with. Who knows.

    @ Rosemary Thank you for stopping by as well. Don’t let what is going on with other authors or publishers deter you from doing what you do. You write for yourself and in being true to yourself, you’re true to the rest of us. If you end up making a living at it, then great. But maybe it’s just something you do, the same way you brush your teeth and eat your veggies – because it’s good for you, it keeps you healthy. Like I said, I don’t know, I’m not a writer. But we all need to be true to ourselves and don’t let the asinine comments of other so-called experts change what you do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s