Talking In Circles

It is clear that many methods of traditional publishing are undergoing seismic shifts. The notion of self-publishing does not carry the same stigma it did just a few years ago. Yet there is a danger in self-publishing that becomes clear when you compare these two authors, and how they got to where they are. I wonder, with the incredible ease in which authors can now publish their rejected manuscripts online, whether fewer authors are going to take the time to hone their craft, get good at what they do, and achieve their full potential. Will new technology stifle budding talent?

-- Jason Pinter on the "Konrath" Effect

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm getting a little sick and tired hearing the same old bitchfest about how print publishing is dying and how electronic publishing is the way of the future and everyone needs to accept it now and you might as well self-publish your work because nobody else will publish it for you and blah blah blah.

While I don't agree with everything Mr. Pinter says in his article, I find the comments to the article completely fascinating in one of those "Oh my God I can't believe I'm actually wasting my time reading this" sort of ways. Basically, the commenters are people who don't fully understand publishing but think they do and getting in arguments with others who don't fully understand publishing but think they do. Here's a taste of the inane babbling:

Traditional publishing can't die soon enough for me. They've screwed good authors over for decades and now writers are finding ways to circumvent this closed, inbred world. Sure it means a bunch of crappy writers will put a bunch of drivel out there, but I guarantee that there will be literary gems that are self-published too. The jig is up, and traditional publishers' game is almost over. Hooray.

Look, I'm not saying I know all the ins and outs of publishing, but I know enough not to get into pointless debates over it. The fact is yes, ebooks are coming into their own. Does this mean print publishers will disappear? No. While before publishers were very fickle in which books they published, they'll become even more so now. But publishing is publishing -- it will never go away. It might downsize some, but you will still have some kind of major publishers around publishing the big-name authors and taking chances on no-name authors. And then you'll have places like Amazon who will sign on authors exclusively (think of it like the iPhone -- if you want to use the iPhone in the United States, you have to go to AT&T no matter how much you might not want to; the same applies here, so if readers want to read a certain author's work, they must purchase it from a certain store, i.e. Amazon).

There are many different writers out there, and just because self-publishing is now only a few clicks away doesn't mean those writers with great talent and potential who want to have their books distributed in major bookstores are simply going to give up after a couple rejections. No, they're going to keep writing and submitting and who knows, maybe it won't happen, maybe it will, but they're nothing like the other kind of writer who gives up after a few rejections or who maybe decides that they don't even need to try to begin with and just self-publishes their book right away. (Yes, yes, you have uploaded fifty novels into the Kindle Store, good for you, but how many of those books have actually sold and are being read by people other than your family?)

Let's face it -- Konrath has certainly set a precedent by signing with Amazon. What's more, that one kind of writer will see this as an inspiration and figure, hey, I can do the same thing. Only it's not that simple. I mean, Stephenie Meyer is making millions of dollars off her books, but that doesn't mean I'm working on a bunch of different vampire novels right now. What works for one writer isn't going to work for another -- hell, it probably won't work at all.

Writers write. Or at least that's what they're supposed to do. How much actual quality writing can writers get done while arguing with other writers in comment sections of articles (published at The Huffington Post no less!)? If these writers worried more about their own books and learning to become better writers they wouldn't have to bitch and moan how nobody wants to publish them so they're going to publish themselves and make lots and lots of money like Konrath.

But hey, that's just me. What the hell do I know?