Monday, 10 January 2011

The Ubiquitous Publishing Vs. Self Publishing Rant

(Listening to - Wind 'n Rain)

Hey hey, all! How're my peeps? :-)

I figured it was about time I got back to a 'real' blog post that wasn't just an update. So here's a rant.

If you don't want to read it (it's a played out topic, after all), skip to the bit that says In Other News.

Rant beginneth:

I am sick to death of the "Traditional" publishing vs. "Self" publishing debate, or rather the skewed version. It seems that every other tweet, Facebook status or email lately links to one of the two sides slagging off the other, and I'm at the point where I hide the damn posts so I don't have to read the same old comments that follow.

For those who have no clue what I'm on about, I'll explain (and probably irritate in the process):

Picture two armies. Each composed of authors, each carrying a banner. One reads "Traditional and/or e-publishing are the way to go!" and the other reads "Nuh uh! Self and/or vanity publishing is, for the following reasons!"

(I know, long banners.)

Traditional proponents will say that their's is the way forward, as the author needs not pay a penny, and the publishers will market for you. Self proponents will point out that their way is a lot faster, and gives you considerably more control over the aspects of publishing.

Sound good, right? And it would be, if they stopped there. Problem is that so many people (many claiming to be "experts" for some reason or other) post these irritating bloody articles that point out only the best points of their choice, while showing the worst points of the other in a hope to sway opinion in their favour.

What I want to know is why. Why do you care if Random Writer #177,543 chooses one side over the other? It's no skin of your nose if they chose an alternate path, is it? If it's because you want them to succeed in their career, give them ALL the facts, not just the ones that make your side look prettiest.

Both sides have pluses, and both have minuses. One is more suitable for certain things, whereas the other is better for others. I'm not going to say any more on that, as there are better articles out there already. Suffice to say, research is the key, as well as a level head. Look at what both sides have to offer, then make up your own damn mind.

Rant endeth.

I don't know about you, but I feel better. Big ole weight of my chest. ;)

In Other News:

The new project is still in its infancy, but I have a chapter and a bit written (as well as a very specific target wordcount), and a bit more plot. The second main character turned out different to how I'd envisioned him, but I think I prefer this version.

Once I have more plot, I'll throw up some details. Promise!

How is your project going (if you have one)?




Dolly said...

Good rant. I don't usually even bother to read anything related to those topics. I really don't understand why people get so revved up about it. That time could be spend more productively by writing more books. At the end of the day, if someone else wants to self-publish, or find an agent, I don't care. None of my business, as long as they don't tell me what I should do.

Okay, I feel good too, sharing my rant on your blog. Haha...

Enjoy the project. I am tinkering with a new wip myself. Well two ideas at the moment, trying to decide which one to go with.

Adam said...

Exactly, Dolly. And thanks. :-)

Best of luck with your project(s). Pick one, RIGHT NOW. First one that pops into your head is the one to go for. ;-)


Win said...

Your rant is right on the money. Different strokes for different folks, ya know. There's plenty of room in the publishing world for both mediums. No sense turning into a literary civil war.

As far as wip's - I'm still editing one project and working on the outline for a second.

Adam said...

Thanks for the comment, R.J. :-)

Best of luck with the edits and outline. That's pretty much what I'm up to, too. :)


Julia Knight said...


Self publishing can be great IF you're in a very niche audience(local history, poetry, specific business books) or you just want a copy for your mates OR you're prepared to put in a lot of effort. If you are outside those areas it takes a LOT of work, and while you might be successful, odds are against

If you want a reasonable audience,a reasonable sales record and, you know, books in shops where people see them...trad publishing is the way to go.

And I'm with you Ads. I've seen too much slagging both ways. But the bottom line is this. If you want your book in Waterstone's (or B&N or whatever) then write your heart out, then tweak it so it has some commercial value.

Learn your craft.

This is the biggest thing - the first words out of your fingers are almost certainly not golden. If that's why you self publish, because you reckon you're special snowflake with golden words, it's probably a bad idea. If you self pub because you want to, because you have a niche audience, because what you have just isn't commercially viable...don't diss those who get a pub deal because they could

Conversely. if you're trad pubbed, and someone brings out a niche self-pub, or researches and thinks it's the right choice for them, don't look down,

Yes, there are some stinkers in the self-pub world, because there are no copy editors or standard editors or people saying 'So how come on page three she has green eyss but on page forty they are brown?'There are stinkers that are trad pubbed too.

Bottom line - Anyone and everyone can self pub. That loonie at the end of your road? him too. Not everyone will trad pub. That doesn't make either of them the Bad Guy.

It doesn't mean you should. If you are considering it - I beg you research, talk and not to other self-pubbers. Consider why you want to publish

And if you decide you do - then good for you! Just be aware of the dangers, the pitfalls..

Adam said...

Great reply, Julia. Better 'n my post, in fact. :P

Personally, I lean toward traditional and e-publishing, but I tried to keep my rant neutral, since there are whingey arses on both sides. ;)

Like you say, do your homework first.


MC Howe said...

Good golly miss Dolly! That was quite a rant. I was a bit disappointed you didn't come down on any particular side, though I suspected which side that would be.

I suppose you're right. Who cares, in the end? There are so many other things to worry about. In fact, if someone wants to self publish, let 'em. That leaves more room on real and e-bookshelves for the rest of us.

Adam said...

Ta, MC. :)

As I said in the comment above, I come down on the side of trad, but I wanted to be neutral in my rant, as both sides have idiots that irritate me. ;)


Jamie D. said...

Sounds like you're more upset about all the self-pub posts...would you still be upset if there were lots of links about how self-publishing sucks and no one should ever do it? Or would you just take that in stride because you agree?

I don't really care which way people decide to publish, personally, but I pass along the links I'm interested in, and since I self-pub, that's what interests me. Sorry if that's cluttering up your page (though I guess you've hidden them, so doesn't matter).

bettielee said...

Great post Adam. What kills me is the attitude people approach you with (if their road is different from yours.) Like you're the crazy one. It's like... you know what? I think YOU are the crazy one, what do you think about that? It puts all my heckles up. All of 'em! I say, publish and let publish. (a take on live and let live, if that wasn't obvious.)

Adam said...

As I say in the post, Jamie, both sides piss me off. Granted, there seem to be more on the side of self-publishing lately, but I find the traditional rants just as irritating.

It's the bias that is what gets my goat, irrelevant of where it's coming from.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that I'm more against self than trad. I can only assume you took my mentioning of my preference the wrong way. That I prefer one thing doesn't mean I dislike the other. Far from it.
I have friends that do well in both, and have been recently considering self as an avenue for one of my projects, as it seems most suitable for a couple of reasons.


Adam said...

Indeed, Sammich. :-)

Jamie D. said...

Eh, ignore me (like I should have done here). I'm edgy this week, and shouldn't probably be online, much less responding to posts where I'm liable to take things out of context. Carry on! :-)

Adam said...

No harm done. :-)


XD said...

Yup, if you have to slag off on someone else, then something is terribly wrong.

Plus it makes the person posting it look like a mega arse!

Adam said...

Indeedy. :)



C R Ward said...

Good rant! It's like politians who spend all their time telling you why you shouldn't vote for the opposition instead of why you should vote for them.

The whole Traditional vs. Self Publishing issue reminds me of the Stephanie Meyers/Twilight debates - people were either for it or against it with very little middle ground.

With the SM issue I kept an open mind and read all four books before forming an opinion.

With the publishing war I think the right way to publish is whatever way works for you. As long as I get to read your book, what difference does it make how it got to me?

Adam said...

Thanks for the comment, CR. The politician comparison is perfect! :-)


Dolly said...

MC Howe,

LOL - I am so good at ranting, that's why I resist doing it on my blog. And as for my opinion, I am sure most people are aware of it, but I prefer to stay neutral, because each to their own.

Dolly said...


I don't think you do a lot of complaining. It's one thing to pass on the information, that could help people who are maybe thinking about self-publishing or just want the knowledge. Nothing wrong passing on or even discussing the information. Even I have read some of your posts about it even though I have no intention of self-publishing.

The only time I get irritated is when posts are all about how one way (whether self-publishing or traditional) is the best way, and how everyone else who denies it are just wrong.

JasonTudor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JasonTudor said...

Both sides are about money. One is old money and established business standing on creaking foundations of printed paper, lumbering book stores and traditions. But that business model, at least in the US, is shifting as radically as the business model for the recording industry shifted. Borders is about to go bankrupt based on this business model (and because it does not have an e-book biz. And of the agents, editors and others don't begin to see that, they'll suffer the same fate as the music recording industry.

The new money is in self-publishing, or, better put, electronic publishing). It's fast, costs less, is more efficient but does not have the "gatekeepers" that so many venture capitalists and others who want stable, reliant income covet. There are a few exceptions, and the old publishing house still own the largest, most popular and widest ranging talent and materials. There's also the notion that, like airlines, owning the means of distribution (or the routs aircraft fly in) is more important than the actual airplanes. In other words, old publishing houses penetrate more areas and have more reach into things aside from books -- film, television, and other forms of media as well as other social circles. Need more? iPad sales are soaring. Sales of eBooks outpaced rinted books during the holiday sales season.

Both sides still exist. Legacy publishing and distribution is more powerful and helps the "writer" achieve the dream" of being "published" (and all the grandiose ideas of book signings, movie options and tweed jackets that go with it). However, at least in the US, Uk and other places, generations are beginning to discover a value and efficiency in electronic only publishing. Legacy publishing IS the means to attain a certain credibility just as going to a certain college earns a certain pedigree.

However, this boils down to changing revenue streams, how owners and those with skin in the publishing game can gain more efficiencies, savings and profits, and how writers will adapt not only their craft, but their sense of marketing, sales and gamesmanship as the target continues to move as we go on in this decade. Figure the revenue model will change. Figure printed books will become more novelty and luxury item than standard fare. Figure more about licensing and "per view" sales rather than keeping an old dusty book forever on a shelf.

Follow the money. Then act.

Always a good topic, Adam.

PS, as I thought this though, I realized this will also be my blog post today. So, thanks!

Adam said...

Great reply, Jason!

Y'all are better at putting the words together than I am. :P


June Kramin said...

Well said. I wish everyone would just do what they do & let everyone else do the same. Everything is not right for everyone or choices wouldn't exist! *smooch*

Adam said...

*Tackle hugs the Bug*

Ta! :)