Caution: Elephant in the Room

When Diana Gabaldon submitted her first manuscript to a few publishers, wondering if she had any talent or if it was all in her head, she came home to find a man waiting on her doorstep with an offer. I can’t remember if he was an agent or an editor, but whoever he was, he had a contract with a big advance for her to sign right them and there. Proof that the cream rises to the top.

But that was decades ago. Now, big publishers have fewer places on their lists for books. Blame mergers, or changing tastes, or a shrinking market – or all of the above. But when I interned at a big house I saw wonderful books being turned away because that category was full, or they didn’t have the time they used to have to nurture writers.

And what about the self-published authors who have become literary sensations? They are proudly and happily earning a living doing what they love. Maybe the publisher who turned them down was just plain wrong.

Self-publication is hardly solitary these days. There are usually writing groups and mentors and colleagues and editors involved. So there is some vetting of the quality, without the financial constraints (or big budgets, conversely) of the big houses. Small and mid-sized publishers are great, but they can only publish and promote so many books.

Self-published authors have greater creative control, keep more of the proceeds, and set their own schedules. Need I say more?

Lit Laugh Love

I won’t bother to preface this post with an introduction to the topic of self-publishing. Whether you’re in publishing or not, the words have been bandied about plenty, especially after the success of 50 Shades of I-Can’t-Bear-To-Think-Of-It. I’ve read many an article on the subject and for the most part I’ve stayed strong to believing that self-publishing *on the whole* doesn’t do the individual or the industry many favors.

I recently read an article by Jonathan Bennett that had a sentence I just couldn’t shake:

“It used to be that waiting, rejection, indifference and silence were honoured and, indeed, essential aspects of professional, literary writing.”

Read the full article here.

It struck a major chord in my mind. I’ve always believed that there can be no success without failure. By all means, let’s have more opportunities in publishing. But if everyone’s written-word becomes worthy of publication (isn’t it already?…

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June 2013
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