WARNING: May contain naughty language.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Holy War of Publishing

I'm not a published author. Yet.

I keep grinding away - writing, revising, "hacking & slashing" followed by more revisions. Rejection letters and email goad me on. I guess I take it on faith that an editor has actually taken the time to read something I've shared with them. I dig it. But what if there is a way to get published without running the gauntlet? A magical ritual which transforms the writer into the editor/publisher/distributor in a single neat package? Self-publishing is a "sea change" of sorts which is shaking the foundations of traditional publishing to the core. Some "brick and mortar" houses are embracing it, a few are ignoring it and at least one is "pimping" the trend (hint: think of a flightless bird with happy feet).

I'm on the fence at this point. I see the value of it. Complete control, zero royalty disputes, and utter freedom to move the work as the author sees fit. I have a good friend who self-published his own YA sci-fi novel a few months ago. I was fortunate enough to be able to read and offer feedback on several iterations of it prior to print and he did a great job with it. Is he ready to retire and write full time? Not yet. Sales have been steady online and I envy the thrill he must feel each time somebody orders it from Amazon. But...

I've read a few self-pub works (usually through contacts @ Critters Workshop or Goodreads) which are...to be frank, AWFUL. They just suck. On at least one occasion an author admitted he got tired of the rejection letters and took matters into his own hands. I get it. That's cool. Do as you will but harm none. Except the reader in his case. For every single Amanda Hocking there are probably three thousand writers who aren't quite ready for prime time.

Maybe its a case of a deep rooted desire to simply "be a published author" which drives certain people. I know that was one of my goals since I was a teenager. But perhaps that dream needs to be qualified with the addendum of "be a published author...who writes entertaining shit."

I'm all for individual empowerment and what not. You want to toss a book out there in the wild to see how it goes? More power to you. But consider the remote possibility that the rejection letters collected are not because editors don't understand your brilliance; that they don't appreciate your artistic vision; that they are boot-licking toadies of the "the Man" with a case of hyper risk-avoidance syndrome.

I'm guessing it just might be because your first 2 chapters read like crap.

People a lot smarter and more experienced than I have written extensively on the subject and I've done my best to stay up to date on the struggle. I'm sure my opinions on the matter will morph and shift over time, but for now I have to stay "middle of the road" on the debate. Which is really unfortunate as that is where one is most likely to get hit by a Mack truck.

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