A rather idiotic article in the Huffington Post postulates that self-publishing is "An Insult to the Written Word". Here's an excerpt.
The problem with self-publishing is that it requires zero gatekeepers. From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature. As an editor, I’ve tackled trying to edit the very worst writing that people plan on self-publishing just because they can.
. . .
I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally. It makes a great gift for their grandchildren. But self-publishing needs to be labelled as such. The only similarity between published and self-published books is they each have words on pages inside a cover. The similarities end there. And every single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly why the person had to resort to self-publishing. These people haven’t taken the decade, or in many cases even six months, to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer. Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.
There's more at the link.
In response, fellow author, blogger and friend Larry Correia has written one of his magnificent fiskings.
Oh… Wait… Laurie is being serious. Dear God.
At this point I realized that Laurie wasn’t providing writing advice for people who actually want to make a decent living as writers. She is providing advice to people who want to be aloof artistes at dinner parties, before they go back to their day job at Starbucks.
As for what Laurie says about gatekeepers, it is all horse shit. She has no flipping idea what she’s talking about.
Publishers are the “gatekeepers”. If they like you, you’re in, and if they don’t like you, you’re out. Problem is, at best they only have so many publishing slots to fill every year, so they cater to some markets, and leave others to languish. And at worst, they are biased human beings, who often have their heads inserted into their own rectums.
. . .
Editors try to make the author’s stuff better. Period. They aren’t gate keepers, because it is their job to make the stuff that got through the gate suck less (seriously, the HuffPo should hire one). Only self-published authors can hire editors too. Andy Weir hired Bryan Thomas Schmidt to edit the original self-published The Martian. Last I heard that book did okay.
. . .
These gatekeepers are assessing whether or not your work is any good.
The problem is that “good” is subjective. What you personally think is “good” is irrelevant when there are a million consumers who disagree. I wouldn’t buy a copy of Twilight, but the author lives in a house made out of solid gold bars. “Good” is arbitrary. The real question is whether your product is sellable (and yes, it is just a product, get over yourself).
Again, more (a lot more) at the link. It's highly giggle-worthy.
The biggest single problem is that people like Laurie Gough (the author of the HuffPo article) are arrogating to themselves the right to prescribe how people like me should publish our books. Unless we follow their One True Path, we're beyond the pale, unworthy of consideration as 'serious' authors, beyond contempt. Trouble is, her 'gatekeepers' of which she's so fond have proven themselves to be unworthy of consideration too. They've become obstacles to their own success, never mind anyone else's, because they're trapped in a big-business, big-bucks world of corporate success, rather than focusing on the creative artist and figuring out how to 'monetize' their creativity. There are a considerable number of self-published authors (Larry Correia, Andy Weir, Hugh Howey, and so on - I could name dozens) who are very successful indeed (some are multi-millionaires) - but who were rejected by untold corporate 'gatekeepers' before they became successful. Rather than become discouraged, they stepped out on their own and succeeded anyway. In many cases, that's led to offers from and contracts with traditional publishers. Others have remained independent, and are quite happy that way.
Simon Owens has pointed out that "Book publishers are incentivizing midlist authors to abandon them".
So we have these [self-published] authors who have built up fanbases consisting of thousands of readers, readers who gladly shell out money for each subsequent book, and yet the publishers are abandoning these authors in droves. Why?
Well, over the past few decades, what was once a diverse publishing field has consistently coalesced, through acquisitions and mergers, into an industry with only four major publishers. What’s more, these major publishers are owned by even larger, multi-billion dollar media conglomerates:
Simon & Schuster is owned by CBS, HarperCollins is owned by NewsCorp, Penguin and RandomHouse are jointly owned by Pearson and Bertelsmann, and Hachette is part of an enormous French company called Lagadère.
So when you’re a company that’s dealing with revenues in the billions (with a B), suddenly a product that can only sell a few thousand units and is ultimately “unscalable,” isn’t worthy of investment. So instead they invest in products that have the potential to not only sell millions of units, but also spawn spin-off merchandise and movie deals.
Amazon, with its ecommerce system and now its Kindle publishing platform, has figured out how to scale midlist authors, and is therefore willing to gobble up those writers the big publishers turn away, offering them a bigger cut of their sales in the process.
But this, I believe, is to the long-term detriment of the publishers. Because now a new generation of writers is growing up on the Amazon platform, using social media and email lists to market its books, and several of these writers will advance from selling merely thousands of books to selling millions. And once they’re selling millions of books and collecting 70 percent of each copy sold, it’ll be extremely difficult for those conglomerates to lure the authors back under their umbrella with the promise of a puny 10 percent of cover price royalty. By abandoning the midlist to Amazon, publishers are hastening their own demise.
More at the link.
I agree with Mr. Owens' analysis. Even though I had been traditionally published in non-fiction back in the 1980's, I didn't even try to get through the obstacles of the 'gatekeepers' before publishing my first efforts at fiction. I knew it would be almost impossible to do so, given their present business structure and focus. Instead, I planned on doing it myself, and began working on it as far back as 2005. I kept hard at it for several years before I felt I was ready, and self-published my first novel back in 2013. (You can read about my plans and progress in this 2013 article, if you're interested.) Thanks to your support, I've been able to achieve moderate success so far, and I look forward to even greater success in future. What's more, my self-published sales numbers were sufficiently large to interest a publisher in picking up my Western series, as well as some of my science fiction, so I now straddle the line between self- and traditionally-published works. If I can do it, I don't see why anyone who's prepared to work hard and has a modicum of talent can't do so as well.
So much for Ms. Gough's argument . . .