“Many people say that he doesn’t need the middle men of booksellers and publishers in order to make money, that his popularity is evidence that he could strike out alone to increase his profit margin. But as John Green, cult author with more than 1.5 million Twitter followers, a hugely popular Tumblr page, and more than a million YouTube subscribers for the channel he shares with his brother says, isn’t only about the money, it’s also about the quality of the editing and the support he gets from the existing publishing, bookstore and library structure.”
John Green says he has no issues with self publishing, other than that no author can do without any of the people in the title above in order to be successful. In an extraordinarily weird filmed acceptance speech for the American Booksellers Association Indie Champion award, Green refutes that he would be better off self publishing work himself in a very vociferous, and with lots of swear words, video.
I actually found myself wondering how someone with such a bad and limited vocabulary got published by an actual publishing house in the first place, Indie or otherwise.
But he did and despite supporting self publishing on the surface, he then goes on to tell us exactly why the rest of the writing public who bust their balls to get published by publishers like Random House, Penguin etc and getting enough rejection slips to paper the walls of at least four houses in their street shouldn’t be going down the self publishing route. Apparently Green thinks that self published authors have never even heard of editing, publicising, or printing.
I have news for him and it’s all bad.
Self published authors do use editors and they either fast become decent publicists or they sink without trace. I pay a professional editor an inordinate amount of money to ensure that my manuscript is good enough for putting out there in the public domain. I have had to become au fait with websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook promotions and getting out my book by word of mouth. I found out the hard away about Smashwords for the ebook version of the first book and now my sales have jumped simply because the book is getting to more outlets.
I discovered for myself the art of giving away copies of the ebook for free when I needed to publicise it. Nobody told me, I just saw all of these free ebooks of other works and found out for myself how it all works.
I didn’t just submit a manuscript, sit back and wait smugly for the editor to edit it, the publisher to publish it and send away to the mainstream reviewers for a review. John Green is one of the lucky ones, he got a publishing deal but there are many really good books written by excellent authors out there that are self published and whose authors didn’t get a deal of any kind.
Green is the kind of writer who wants to run with the fox and hunt with the hounds. He gaily throws out a sop to self publishing authors by telling them that he ‘has no issues’ with it and then proceeds to tell everyone in a lengthy, pithy video just exactly why those authors are really pathetic and really need an editor and a publisher!
It’s through authors like Green that the mainstream publishers keep their elite monopolies going. The readers, who are the ones who actually decide the success of a novel or any kind of book, are duped by these publishers who seductively whisper into the shell likes of the reader that only those authors who are published ‘properly’ through ‘proper’ publishers are worth reading and the worst thing is that the readers fall for that line in droves. These seductive whispers that somehow self published authors are not very good unless they have the approval of the publishing industry keep the elite at the top of the pile and the rest of us at the bottom of the slush pile.
An acquaintance recently smugly told me that she wasn’t going down the self publishing route, when she got published she was going to be published ‘properly’ with a ‘proper’ publishers and her comment indicated to me just how much the public have been duped into thinking that anything self published has to be rubbish. Good luck with getting published by the proper publishing company by the way!
I remember the old days of the Vanity Press, so called because the only people who published themselves were people who couldn’t get published elsewhere or who only wanted a couple of copies of their book for Auntie Flo and Cousin Joe. It was considered to be the most heinous publishing crime in all history to go to the Vanity Press. You were practically put on a literary level with Jack the Ripper, publishers made fun, other published authors smirked smugly as they sat gloating at the publishing deal contract and readers never got to hear about the book, even though they might well have loved it.
The publishing industry has lived off that for far too long. They have created this elite society of publishers, reviewers and authors and the people, who generally are sheeple follow them meekly because it’s like the old old maxim of “Well they must know what they are talking about mustn’t they?”
Must they? Did E L James think anyone would think that about her fan-fiction turned book Fifty Shades of Grey when she self published through The Twilight Coffee Shop? Of course she didn’t. She already had thousands of devoted followers of the fan-fiction version, enough to make a solid fan-base even before she was published. Add to that the fact that she had contacts in publishing and worked for the media and her book was set for life. She got enough sales and reviews to push her to the top of the best seller list and then got noticed.
She wasn’t noticed for the keen insights laid out in the actual storyline, she wasn’t noticed for the wonderful characterisation of her main characters and she certainly wasn’t noticed for the 118 ellipses and frequent grammar and location errors in the book, all of which a real professional editor would have fixed before publication was even allowed… oh wait… she didn’t need an editor did she? The elite publishing house who took her work on didn’t even bother with an editor.
Self published authors, those with a reasonable amount of know-how, do know about editors and they do hire them to edit the work. It costs a bomb, but at least they get what they pay for, but because James was published ‘properly’ by a ‘proper’ publisher, the lack of editing somehow became acceptable, except by any reader with the faintest notion of good grammar, decent plots, good characterisations, good spelling and continuity.
Whether the elite of publishing, the readers or anyone else likes it or not, Self Publishing is the big publishing revolution that’s happening right now. It allows you complete control of your work and if you do it sensibly and learn about becoming your own publicist, getting a good editor and also how to work out the financial side, you can earn some money a month in sales, perhaps not enough to be a millionaire, but enough to be able to pay for an editor and you also get to feel satisfied that your work is in print and available for readers to read and comment on.
What could be better than that?
- Author John Green backs traditional booksellers, editors and publishers (teleread.com)
- “Looking for Alaska” by John Green (findagirlwhoreads.wordpress.com)
- Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know (reviews.cnet.com)
- The New World of Publishing: What Is A Print Run, Grandpa? (deanwesleysmith.com)
- Self-publishing -vs- Vanity Press (eviegaughan.wordpress.com)