If you have the slightest interest in the subject of writing it’s been hard to miss that in the last couple of years there has been a revolution in publishing. With e-readers and print on demand, self publishing has become a practical means of reaching out to anything up to a global audience. Obviously all writers welcome this development… well… no.
Self publishing has always been a part of the publishing world, in much the same way the mad aunty locked in the attic is part of the family. Often given the derisive labeled vanity press, it was the last refuge for the desperate, the deluded and the determined. Self publishing did enjoy some success, during the nineteen century some well known authors chose it to maintain control over their work. Even in the modern age there were success stories, but those stories ended the same way, ie he/she was then offered a contract by X publishing company. Mostly the self publisher was likely to be defeated by need to hawk their book around individual bookshops and automatic assumption of low quality. Kindle Direct Publishing has changed that probably forever. Now the would be self publisher can sidestep the various gatekeepers of old system and reach out the book buying public from the comfort of their own home, with few up front costs. Even for the established writer who has come up through the old system this seems to offer great potential advantages. If their publisher doesn’t offer a good enough deal, they can potentially take their readership and go.
Strangely not all of them it that way. Look around the internet and it isn’t hard to find those denouncing the new wave of self publishing. I have even come across one unpleasant individual who will remain nameless in the flesh who ranted about people putting up their cr*p and how terrible this was. However on the self publishing side all is not sweetness and light, just as self publishing was labeled as vanity publishing, its adherents label traditional publishing ‘legacy publishing’. With some equally forthright and intolerant views being applied to those writer who go down that route – most memorable being the one who describe traditional publishing as being for people who need their hands held. Even less rational is the criticism of those who cross the front-line. Those who go from self-pub to traditional are described as deluded sell outs, while those who go the opposite way virtual class traitors. It’s applying what is in my opinion a concept of illogical purity to what is a very practical subject.
Obviously since I’m a self publisher, I don’t regard it as the great threat to civilization but equally, I think there is a place in the future for traditional future and I’m not alone. Increasingly established authors are looking to have have a presence in self publishing – although they prefer to call it Independent Publishing – and I think that says a lot about the future. Those who cling to one extreme or the other will find themselves hamstrung. I know certainly if at some point in the future I find myself being offered a contract, I was take a long hard look and take the option that makes business sense.
So this is why you will need hear me decry traditional publishing as a concept.