If it’s self-published – it’s crap.
If it’s self-published, it was only because the author couldn’t get the attention of the big boys in publishing.
Self-publishers are desperate, annoying spammers who produce shonky products and expect us to pay them for it.
They are ruining the industry.
These are some of the assumptions I frequently come across, whether these words are spoken out loud, inferred or written, as in this venomous post in which the writer informs us that self-publishers are ruining literature. But while self-publishers earn his “everlasting ire”, hybrid authors have his respect. Why? Because they have passed through the holy gates of a publishing house, any publishing house, and been given the big tick of approval.
No one has ever said these things to my face, but almost daily I am treated to the assumption that what I really want is to be noticed by a big publisher, that all my dreams will come true the day a publishing company nods their approval at my efforts.
Why? Why does my worth as an author have to be determined by anyone other than my readers?
I understand the idea. I get the concept that, because a writer/book has passed under the eye of a publisher, it is more likely to be worth reading, and it is true. Just as it is true that just because a book is traditionally published, doesn’t mean it’s good or worth your time to read. The only way you can tell if something is worth you time is to read the blurb, read the first page, and decide for yourself if this is a book for you. It would be a very rare person whose first action is to look at the publishers logo on the spine and read the copyright page. (I do, I admit, because you can tell a lot about how much ‘risk’ a publisher, be they independent or traditional, has put into the book – more on this another day).
And yet although people know this is true, the stigma continues to exist. It exists because there are more self-publishers doing it wrong than right and doing it wrong loudly. It exists because the whole industry is on the defensive, and every successful self-publisher and hybrid author is cutting out the big publishers who have been such a staple of the industry for so long they don’t want to die. It exists because people allow it to exist, because they generalise, assume, and say they will only read a book vetted by a company more interested in the economic potential of a book than its merit.
Why don’t we start saying that we will only read good books, regardless of where they came from? Why don’t we start giving the self-publishers who do it right more credit for doing the job of a whole company on their own?
Why don’t we read for love?
Why don’t we write for love?
Why don’t we say screw the stigma?