Now, there are posts that should go before this one but as I’m doing National Novel Writing Month this year, I needed a warm up and this happened to be on my mind after reading an article about how Penguin will be entering the self-publishing realm by offering certain services.
Self-publishing, for me, is a very delicate topic and it is very difficult to have a view on it which doesn’t insult writers. Even as a writer, my thoughts on self-publishing are probably closer to what traditional publishers would or should think. To me, writing is an art that needs to be perfected. The editorial process a novel has to go through in order to be published, I think, is imperative. One can be brilliant and talented and wonderful and they would still need editing. It is not supposed to be easy.
With self-publishing becoming more and more popular, that need is becoming less and less therefore diminishing the value of the art. I understand the desire to get the work out there and the desire to have other people buy it and love it. That is part of why my opinion on self-publishing is so muddled: I understand that one just wants to be able to say that they’re published. However, when that happens and when every person on the entire planet is able to publish a book without any real hardships, the art suffers.
I use her as an example much too often, but everyone knows who she is; Stephanie Meyers had a story she wanted to tell. Fantastic. For some odd reason, YA publishers thought they should publish the novel (with very little editing, it would seem). Imagine a Stephanie Meyer in every genre. Imagine thousands of Stephanie Meyer-like people in every genre. That is what self-publishing encourages. It encourages you to tell your story but without the artful skills that were once required of authors to be there. And while Stephanie Meyers was published traditionally, that mistake would be repeated ten-fold with the way self-publishing is taking off.
I have been asked to read novels before by fellow authors trying to get their stories out there… It is not always pretty. Often, their works are confusing and are lacking eloquent language or has too much out of place language or this or that. There are so many problems with these works! And yet, because they can, these authors are selling them anyways when in reality they shouldn’t even think about putting it anywhere for people to read before they go through and do some hard-core editing.
But that is the world that self-publishing is creating. Everyone has a story to tell, yes. But not everyone is a writer. “Everyone is unique. But that is just another way of saying that no one is.” Self-publishing threatens that unique skill set that writers have. It is is turning writers into mere storytellers. I’m actually very sad by the fact that novels are now something of a joke. Something anyone can do without any real hard work or dedication. But, we will see where this road of self-publishing takes the world of literature. Thank you for reading. Until next time…