Ruminating On: Publishing

A line has been drawn in the sand that should never have been created. As authors, and readers alike, we’ve been looking upon the publishing world in all the wrong ways. I keep seeing more and more bloggers and talking-heads regurgitating the same nonsense. The war rages, the battle burns bright, and none of it makes any sense to me. Whether or not traditional publishing is better than going indie, and visa versa. Really, who cares? Well, it seems a lot of you do, so let me weigh in on this subject.

Trash is trash. Talent is talent. There really is no other way of looking at the publishing world. For the sake of argument, sure, there is a bit of gray area, but that always leads to subjectivity. You, as the reader, decide whether or not you can trudge your way through a book or not. For me, I try and see the story for what it’s worth. For the most part, I can ignore grammar, punctuation and spelling, but I also understand if you can’t get your point across, the story is going to suffer. But if the author’s idea of a story is describing a house wherein nothing happens, then I can’t enjoy the ride. On the other hand, there are readers that will get something from reading about “This Old House.”

Getting back to my point, there is just as much trash in traditionally published books as there is talent in the indie community. Some of my favorite published authors have been lax as of late, producing verbose nonsense that shouldn’t grace a milk carton, much less a novel’s pages. Do you really think that just because someone has a name for themselves, and a publishing contract, that they must have written something of quality? If you do, you’re just as brain-numb as the publisher that let them release their laundry list. As with most things in life, these authors, at some point in time, got lucky. Just like getting a job at Wal-Mart, you either have to know someone, or be in the right pile at the right time.

With the advent of vanity presses, and more recently independent ebooks, struggling authors have a venue to display their work, no matter how poorly edited their stories are. That’s all fine and dandy, and more power to them, but it all comes down to the writer’s work ethic whether or not a quality work is published. But, this crap floating around that independent books are, by definition, of a lesser quality than traditionally published authors, needs to go away, and fast.

If one more person tells me, “You’re good… for an indie,” I’m going to scream. Really? Why should my work be belittled because I never submitted my debut novel for publication? Is there something wrong with it? Did you find something within those pages that didn’t stand up to traditionally published books? If so, please tell me. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I want someone to tell me why my book is worth less. Why? Because I don’t have one of the Big 6 stamped on the spine?

Now, I may lose some of you guys that support indies here, but I couldn’t care less. You need to stop crying from the hilltops that one is better than the other. Traditionally published versus Indie really is apples and oranges. Both taste just as good. But they can also be rotten. I’m not telling you to stop promoting indie authors, I’m telling you to stop harping on the differences. It’s pointless.

It occurred to me recently, that as an author, my only job is to entertain. As long as people are reading my books and enjoying them, I will be successful, because they will be back if I do it right. I’m not going to focus on becoming the next big name author, traditionally published or otherwise. I just want to tell stories. In the end, that’s all that matters.

In the grand scheme of things, whether people are reading trash or talent, at least they are reading. Say what you want about Stephanie Meyers (I’ve said quite a bit myself) but she had teenagers and adults reading again. Whether it was to see what all the fuss was about, or because her readers actually enjoyed her stories, is debatable, but still… they were reading. Trash will never stop people from buying something. Look at the success of the Snuggie—come on, folks, it’s a robe you wear backwards—and you’ll see my point proven. But talent only breeds growth. If we put out the best that we’re capable of, then maybe, just maybe, someone will read us and be entertained enough to keep reading. Even though my writing is a little more adult oriented, I dream that someday, I’m the first book that someone ever reads, and because of that, continues to read. I know that’s a big dream, but I’m an author. I’m allowed to dream big.

Distinguishing between traditionally published authors and indie authors is a bit like racism. You come carrying preconceived notions based on ignorant opinions. Not every indie is trash, and not every traditionally published author is talented.

Just read. You’ll thank me for it.



20 thoughts on “Ruminating On: Publishing

  1. I never submitted my debut novel, either. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t want to wait through what would likely amount to two years of rejection, then if someone did pick it up, another two years until the publisher published it. The option to get started on my own was much more compelling.

    I don’t think all indies are better, and I don’t think all legacy published books are better. You’re right: there’s a large variance in quality no matter where you take your sample. I do think indies tend to offer more reasonable e-book prices, spend more time interacting on their blogs, and are more community-centered. Do they all write great books? No. Not by far.

    In my experience, I get more cold reactions to choosing to go indie from other authors than I have gotten from readers. Readers care about the book, not some imaginary and largely immaterial debate over the different approaches to publication. I’m with you in that it is the reader’s enjoyment that matters, not the mechanism behind making the book available.


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