So, Roy and Cathy and I have been emailing about self-publishing. Well, really Roy and I have, since we seem to be the most loud-mouthed and vociferous in our opinions. (Shocking, I know.)
The impetus (or inciting incident, if you want to use fiction terminology) for this discussion was Roy and Cathy’s visit to the Southern Festival of the Book.
Let me first announce loudly that I should have been in Nashville this past weekend for this event. But, alas, I wasn’t. So I relied on the reports from Roy and Cathy.
And they were not good. In the past the festival has attracted huge southern writers (not huge in size but in stature) and seemed to have tons of amazing speakers and workshops and that always made me hugely jealous.
But apparently this time the only huge speaker was Rick Bragg, and according to someone who shall remain nameless, he is recycling his speech from previous years, when he actually had a book to shill. (If, um, the book on the Jessica Lynch story counts. I didn’t say that! No I didn’t! I’m still upset with the man for his uncredited use of stringers when he was at the New York Times. And, guess what? I’m not from the south, so I don’t have to engage in knee-jerk adoration of the good ole boys. Not that that is a problem down there. Just sayin’ I don’t do it.)
But I digress. Lord, how I digress. Kinda like a southerner.
He who shall remain nameless, but is the father of two children named Seth and Eryn, said that the festival was also disappointing because most of the booths featured self-published books.
And this provoked a passionate defense of all authors, even if they have written books about Jessica Lynch, from moi. Because I KNOW how damned hard it is to write a book, any book, even if it is a crappy romance or a mystery without a dead body. And if said authors can’t find a publisher but feel so compelled to present their tomes to the world, then I say more power to them.
And then I told him that I myself had gone over to the dark side, what with my recent foray into the Ebook world. (Okay, it is just a beginning foray, but still.)
Roy He Who Shall Remain Nameless begged me to come down off my high horse because what he was really talking about was outfits like the ones who charge you a lot to do what you could for yourself.
And then I had to shut up because I agree with him.
His point is that these businesses lure you into their publishing web by promising distribution and publicity, when in truth the books they produce are sneered at as little more than vanity publishing by the industry. And he is correct.
Nobody is going to take these books seriously, folks. Why? Because there is no editor. And what does an editor do? He or she functions as an objective person who can read and comment on a manuscript. We writers may not like this, but this vetting is a necessary part of the process. We cannot be objective about our own work, period. We need another set of eyes. You won’t get this at one of these publishing houses.
I do so understand the frustration of pounding your fist against the door of a publishing house and not having anyone answer. And I also understand why you might want to just say, enough, and publish your book yourself.
Honestly? I think you’d be better off to start a blog and publish the book yourself, post by post. Dedicate yourself to publicize it and network and you might just attract yourself a publisher. Or take the money you’d spend with one of these publishing houses and publish the book yourself. That’s what Richard Paul Evans did.
And , um, he’s rich. He writes sentimental slop, but people love it and he loves it and he’s made millions.
Like I said, I respect even the authors of sentimental slop. And those who write about Jessica Lynch. And I respect your impetus to share your words with the world. Just don’t sell your soul in your rush to publish, okay?