The Infamy of Self-Publishing

Lately I’ve been reading some book reviewer’s message boards, in the name of research you know, and I’ve noticed quite a negative view of self-published books abounding therein. Now, I have been as aware as anyone that self-publication isn’t exactly seen through rose-colored literary glasses by many in the industry, but I have been under the assumption that it’s at least slowly gaining recognition as reputable.

Apparently my assumption was incorrect. Big surprise, I know. Assumptions usually don’t end up being true.

But the oddest thing for me lies in one particular reason for this ill-repute. Of course there is the issue many self-published books have with lack of editing. I myself have discussed this in earlier posts, and can’t begin to stress enough how important editing is, so I can’t argue with that. But apparently there is another reason that literary bigwigs don’t like self-publication: words like “strange”, “unconventional” and “super-far-fetched” are being thrown around as if they should be read with a negative connotation.

Uh… huh?

Are not the arts traditionally unconventional? Is not history filled with great writers who have broken molds and destroyed stereotypes? How is it, then, that strangeness is considered a bad thing?

Oh. Yes. Profit. There’s that.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need to make a profit. After all, we all want to be successful and income is a part of that. My beef isn’t with the wish to make money. Rather, my beef is with the idea that a unique story doesn’t make a profit in this society in the first place. Why not? Can we as a people only handle formulaic storylines and stereotypical characters?

I say no. Maybe in the past, sure. But not now.

So why should a well-edited, professional self-published novel be shunned simply because it is unique? This is a major concern for me, not just because I myself write “off the grid”, but also because I encourage and embrace our differences, and as far as I’m concerned reading new and creative points of view can only be edifying to humanity as a whole.

So please, critics, editors and publishers, don’t write off a self-published book simply because it was too “different” for traditional publication. Who knows, you might find the next international bestseller among those stories in which the writers believed enough to not give up… even when everyone else did.


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