Worrying About Being Shunned By Society

February 17th, 2006 · 7 Comments
by Booksquare

We are going to entertain a serious thought or two for a moment. You can come back later if you prefer. In certain circles, the notion of self-publishing is greeted with the same, shall we say, revulsion that the masses once greeted leprosy. You will be shunned, it’s whispered, you will not ever sit at the grownups’ table.

Then there are those who sneer at self-published title. The quality, they moan, it’s all dreck. Actually, most people don’t use the word “dreck” in normal conversation. You may substitute the word of your choice there.

Yet authors continue to self-publish, some out of sheer willfulness (we met one of these once: the world, and we were indeed members of that world, refused to recognize his genius and talent and whatnot, so he’d just go ahead and publish himself. So there.). Some out of frustration; this is generally the story behind those self-published books purchased by big houses that go on to become what the industry likes to call “success stories.” Some are truly looking at vanity projects — the family memoir, that sort of thing.

In a way, self-publishing mirrors any other kind of publishing. You have your dreck coming from all types of traditional publishers. You certainly have your vanity. And sometimes quality books.

Every day, we sit here and self-publish our work. You are enjoying the fruits of that labor now. Possibly we could have, and we shudder just thinking of this, tried to convince someone in a trade publication to hire us, maybe offer a cubicle with a view. We could have, with a little ingenuity, achieved that holy grail of the corporate world: one of those badge-holder things that automatically retracts. It’s kind of cute how society has adapted so quickly. Remember when people relied upon faces to identify co-workers? Now it’s the auto-glance to the ID card for name, rank, and serial number.

Sorry, digression. This is why we limit our serious thoughts to one, maybe two, per week. All those tangents are unproductive. What is self-publishing? And should we worry about the grown-ups’ table?

File Under: The Future of Publishing

7 responses so far ↓

  • Bella Stander // Feb 17, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    So it’s cheap and easy to get your book into print. Swell. Now you have to get people to buy the sucker, which most neophytes don’t realize is just as much–if not more–work than writing it. Too many of them end up like the nice little old lady who called me wanting to know how she could get rid of the hundreds of copies of her memoir that were stacked in her garage. Her minister and her family, she told me proudly, just loved her book. Couldn’t she sell the copies to some publisher? (Um, no…) As a (successful) self-publisher told me, “Publishing is not for the innocent. You have to know what you’re getting into.”

  • SusanGable // Feb 17, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    The desserts are better at the grown-ups’ table. (g)

  • James Aach // Feb 19, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    An short, light-hearted essay discussing how my novel on nuclear power didn’t seem to excite the publishing community, though it had some prominent endorsements, has been posted at http://www.lablit.com/article/83 .

    The publishing game is indeed an painful business.

  • David Harris-Gershon // Feb 19, 2006 at 5:52 pm

    I’m too vain to self-publish. Either that, or I haven’t reached my frustration tippin’ point.

  • Dolen.blogspot.com // Feb 19, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    And what about the print-on-demand companies? My fear of unedited muck taking over the planet is gratefully lessened by the knowledge that there aren’t hundreds of copies lying around in grandma’s garage. And a part of me likes the idea of people thumbing their noses at the publishing industry. It’s great for poets.

  • Booksquare // Feb 19, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    Bella, of course I feel your pain. I have a very sad inbox to prove that self-publishing is not easy nor for amateurs. We both know it can be effective, but success is rarely a given.

    David, are you saying I’m not vain? Of course I am. If I weren’t, do you think my shoe budget would exceed, well, that’s personal. Vanity, thy name is Booksquare. Hmm, I like that. If I only I didn’t dislike promotional t-shirts. So tacky.

    I cannot speak to poetry. After a brief (and, sadly, well-documented) attempt at the genre during my pathetic high school career, I determined that poetry is for nobody. Print-on-Demand, however, is a brilliant distribution method waiting for better execution. Or maybe it’s fulfillment. Yes, fulfillment.

  • David Harris-Gershon // Feb 20, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    Lord, no. Your vanity is unparalleled. Mine is simply greater. Hmmm….maybe we should call this The Vain Game.