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To be or not to be... self-published

Nick Kaufmann gave a mention to the NJ Authors' Network on his blog the other day.  I was a little surprised at the reaction to the fact that self-published authors are welcome to join. 

For what it's worth, here's my personal take on why some 'regular-published' authors seem to look down on (and in some cases resent), the self-published, and why some self-published authors find this a hot-button issue. 

I believe many 'regular' authors see the progression from writer to published author is a rite of passage (no pun intended); a sort of club if you will.  You could meet an author from almost anywhere in the world and immediately have a common bond, because let's face it, unless you were famous for something else first, you probably both had to overcome the same kind of obstacles eg: finding an agent/publisher etc.

If you look at it from their point of view, doing it yourself is a form of cheating.  After all, anyone with enough money can publish anything, regardless of quality.  A bit like a war veteran seeing someone wear a medal ribbon bought from a pawn shop.

Self-published authors on the other hand, would probably have loved to have got an agent and a contract from Scholastic or the like.  I can't know for certain, but I imagine they at least tried to go through the 'regular' process before deciding to pay out a few thousand dollars to see their work in print.  I think that, deep down, even the best writers who choose this path have a small inner-critic that questions whether their work is good enough to have made it into print otherwise (regardless of the compelling reasons that made self-publishing such an attractive proposition at the time).

I'm not saying self-publishing's a good or bad thing.  In truth, it's not a route I would choose to take, and I do think there's a better quality of editing done by regular publishers, but I believe it depends entirely on your long term career goals as a writer. 

Isn't this the true test of any published book:  Would the person who reads it, recommend it to a friend and/or purchase another by the same author?  If the answer is 'yes', then who cares how it's published?

Then again, what do I know?



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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
The reaction wasn't necessarily against self-published authors. It was with the way things were worded. You regularly mention published and self-published authors in the text. So much so that it seems that you are actively promoting self-published authors... instead of just refering to authors which would make it seem like you aren't making an active decision over what sort of authors are available to join.

It is a distinctive difference between actively saying:
"You all self-published authors come here."
and "Authors of any form are welcome."
Jan. 12th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
That's a fair point, but don't forget, when organizing an event it's important to know how someone is published because some bookstores reject self-published authors out of hand (libraries don't care as long as the author is local and the work isn't pornographic).

As for the disdain I mentioned, perhaps I read it differently to you. However, when someone says '... more often than not we're talking about raging egoists who refuse to admit they haven't learned how to write well yet...', it's an understandable assumption, don't you think?.

I expected comments about the 'six guest' rule, but it never occurred to me that people would have a problem with the self-published. Like I said before, it's not the way I'd go. Then again I wouldn't write a romance novel either, but I wouldn't feel the urge to pass judgement on those who do. What would be the point?

It just surprised me.

Edited at 2009-01-12 06:17 pm (UTC)
Jan. 12th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
"how someone is published"

Probably more specific to say it is important to know who someone published with. The bookstores probably care if the self-published used IUniverse, Publish America, or one of those other large places.

They may also be concerned if you are with one of the small press publishers. Quite likely they may even reject some of those.

As for the disdain. Yeah there is some of that. It was stated "More often than not." Making sure they didn't lump every self-published author in there.

Jan. 12th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
True enough.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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