No glory in an ebook world.

Let me say straight off the bat that I know this post is on dicey grounds, and if we had more than five regular readers of coffeeshopdaily, could potentially offend or irritate self-published/ing authors.

Okay, now down to business.  I hate the idea of self-publishing.  I love it, and I hate it.

See this Post by J A Konrath.  (Please note that I’m not saying Konrath wants the following to occur, but it’s a possibility he hinted at in that article and others).

Yes, please, let’s all self-publish and “democratize” the world of books.  Let’s get rid of those pesky bookstores, and make everything digital.  Let’s get rid of publishers.  Everyone knows they’re mean and they don’t pay us well.

Because you know, real writers are in this for the money.

So according to Konrath — in the above-linked article and HERE and AGAIN HERE — self-publishing authors could bring down the big publishers.  In truth, that’s a very real possibility.  I’m not one for “revolution theories” in publishing, filmmaking or any other art.  But the fact is that ebooks are becoming a huge deal nowadays, and the perceived benefit of signing with a traditional publishing house is being outshined by the dollar signs put out by people like Konrath, John Locke and others.

But is any of this what we want?  We as writers and readers together?

Do we want a world where you sit at home and download the latest ebook your best friend’s dog wrote, and you sit in your barcalounger and read it and the world turns and you get old and fat and die.  The end.

Do we want a world where you sit at home and finish uploading your dog’s latest book to Amazon and post 10,000 Facebook and Twitter updates begging everyone to buy it “cuz it’s only 99 CENTS!” and then say you find people to buy your book and you get rich and then you spend all that money on cake, which you eat while sitting in your barcalounger and you get old and fat and die.

By the way, the barcalounger is a Collateral reference.  Sheesh.

Where’s the glory?  Where’s the prestige?  Where’s the “OHMYGODHARPERCOLLINSJUSTACCEPTEDMYBOOKFORPUBLICATION!”?

With traditional publishers all but gone, what would be the point?  When publishers go, so will bookstores.  So congratulations on ruining my dream of walking into Barnes & Noble and seeing a shelf with my book on it.  Yay!  Score for self-published authors!

Did I mention I’m actually not against self-publishing?  I think it’s great if you want to do things your own way and don’t want to risk some idiot you don’t know mucking up your book cover or title.  They’ll probably ask you to rewrite it like a billion times too.  And then you’ll have to wait about 18 months before you’ll even see it on shelves.  And it will take a long time to get paid, and you won’t get paid very much, and it probably won’t be in money but in boxes of I-O-U papers because by then the traditional publishing houses will be fighting off bankruptcy because for heaven’s sake, J K Rowling is going to self-publish.

All snark aside, I really don’t have a problem with self-publishing.  I simply think it’s going to be a horrible world to live in if book retail is just a bunch of shameless authors begging everyone and their grandmother to buy their book.  See this post–> Why Are You Sweating?

Ya know, I was actually considering self-publishing… if I ever finish a novel or anything.  But now I realize… I want to do things the traditional way.  I want to say “I’ve been published,” not “I self-published.”  I want to see my book somewhere that I didn’t pay to put it.  I want to support the publishing houses.  Without them, I would never have heard of 90% of the books I’ve ever read.  Honestly, the system has worked for years, and yes authors don’t make a lot of money, and no that doesn’t bother me at all.  I don’t expect a publisher to want to starve for my art, but I’m perfectly happy to do so myself.  (For the record, I have some interesting publishing-related plans for coffeeshopdaily that if they come to fruition will probably be self-published for one of the reasons listed below).

The only reason I see to self-publish today, aside from the dollar signs, is if-

A.) You have a product that wouldn’t fit traditional publishing form (i.e. a novella, an anthology, a collection of poems, etc.) or that you don’t think publishers would accept.

B.) You are turned down by everyone.

Obviously, the choice is yours, and most likely everyone will be self-publishing by 2015 or some odd year.  If you really work at it, you’ll probably make more money than if you went through the traditional publishing route.  But honestly, if a day job and a lot of hard work, patience and persistence is the price I have to pay to see my book on a shelf some day… well, that’s a steal at twice the price.

UPDATE:  I originally had some math involved with ebook sales, but I’m not really certain what average statistics are, so I rewrote the line without numbers.

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7 thoughts on “No glory in an ebook world.

  1. Well, allow me to retort: http://jwtds.blogspot.com/2011/04/sorry-traditional-publishing-im.html :-)

    Seriously, though, there are a lot of reasons that an author may choose to self-publish that have nothing to do with rejection. I have every confidence that I would have eventually found a traditional publishing home, but all of the time I spend pursuing that (queries, writing samples, bios, synopses, emails…all specifically tailored to each individual agent’s requirements, mind you) is time I’m not writing. Truth be told, if you make a big enough splash as a self-published author, the traditional houses will come a-callin’, anyway.

    • Indeed you may, sir!

      See, the problem I see with that line of thought – that you’ll spend less time self-publishing than you will trying to find a traditional publisher – is that I think it’s entirely untrue. See Amanda Hocking’s post here–> http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2011/03/some-things-that-need-to-be-said.html

      If you’re not looking to get anywhere with self-publishing, yes, you can just throw your book up on the internet and watch what happens. But to *really make it,* I think you have to put your heart and soul into getting yourself out there in ways that don’t make your fans want to kill you for clogging their Twitter feed. As Hocking said, that’s a LOT of time away from writing.

      I can understand either side of the debate, and as I said, I’m really not against self-publishing. But there are a lot of self-published authors out there who really do want to get rid of the traditional publishing system (and most of them out of the delusional line of thought that simply by uploading their book to Amazon, they’ll automatically sell like Hocking and Locke), and that really scares me.

      I don’t want to see a world where there are no publishers or bookstores. That would be horrible. Then the world of books would become just a bunch of people sitting at home, writing and then uploading and then promoting themselves, and that’s it. I want to go through the traditional publishing system because I want other people to be involved, and not just people I pay to read my book and tell me what needs changed.

      I want to go through the process because it sounds exciting. Slow, yes – very slow. And unfortunately, not very lucrative unless you suddenly become famous. But for me, I’d rather be published than publish myself (though, as a side-note, I think it would be crazy cool to work at a publishing house).

      Sorry for the rant. *grin*

      Michael

  2. What surprised me most about the linked article about Mrs. Rowling is that I’m somewhat shocked she had the rights to self-publish the ebooks. Oftentimes, the publishing house claims those rights. And if they didn’t claim them when they first published her, they should have offered her money to claim them later in the game! But it’s all in the contract.

    I agree with you that self-publishing isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme. It’s not intrinsically better than traditional publishing – it’s just different. Different people, different books, different success rates. It all depends on what you’re in it for and why.

    A thought. If everyone and their dog self-publishes, and the quality of self-published books plummets, won’t serious readers shift back to the publishing houses? Also, if self-publishing steals a lot of big-name authors, some of us little people might be able to get into traditional houses more easily!

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