I recently attended an author event where numerous authors were included. One of the authors made a point of commenting upon what is wrong with self-publishing and that “legitimate” writers do not self-publish but seek to improve their writing by having it reviewed by a press with an editorial board. I tried to point out a couple of the advantages of self-publishing to this author, but she had formed her opinion and would not listen to me. When I brought up the fact that many authors make more money self-publishing than being traditionally published, she replied, “If it’s about the money to you, there’s no point in our talking about it. A real writer enjoys going through the agony of working with an editor to make the book better.” I pointed out that many self-published books are edited, but there was no changing this woman’s mind.  https://www.urbanenergy.com.au/

I went home and did a little research on this author and her book. She had claimed that her book had been her publisher’s bestselling book for something like thirty weeks. Had she said she’d been on the New York Times Bestseller list for thirty weeks, or an Amazon bestseller for thirty weeks, I might have been impressed, but being your publisher’s bestselling book doesn’t mean a lot. I did find the publisher online. They’ve published twelve books. Being the best out of twelve books just didn’t seem that impressive to me.

A male author at the event agreed with this other author. I Googled his book and could not find a website for him. All he had was a page at his university’s website under faculty information that mentioned he had written a book. I tried to Google his publisher, also a small press, and it did not come up as even having a website.

I looked up both authors’ books on Amazon. Both were there, which was a good thing. I looked them up at Barnes & Noble. Only the female author’s book was there. I went back to Amazon and read the reviews. There were a few, some good, some bad for both books. I decided I would see whether these books were really worth reading, but neither book had a “look inside” feature for the Amazon listing. And guess what? Neither book was available in Kindle or any other eBook format.

Curious to see just how good these books were, I went to the local bookstore. The male author was from out of state so I wasn’t surprised the bookstore didn’t have his book. But the bookstore didn’t carry the female author’s book either, even though she lived nearby. When I asked the manager why the store didn’t carry her book, he informed me, “The publisher refuses to work with our company. The only way we can carry it is if the author buys her own copies from the publisher and sells it on consignment to us and she says that’s too much trouble for her to do.”

Interesting, I thought. Here was a traditionally published book, published by a small press I’d never heard of that wasn’t even willing to work with the bookstore in this author’s hometown to sell that author’s book. The press did not produce an eBook version for the author, it did not have a separate author page for the author at its website, and in the case of the other author, there was no website. In short, I was not impressed by either of the authors’ publishers or their efforts to market their books. And I especially wasn’t impressed by the female author who thought she was so ahead of the game because she had a book published by a small press. Perhaps she truly didn’t care about the money part of selling books, but I had a hard time thinking her book was selling well at all, even if it were the bestselling out of twelve titles. Who’s to say any of those other books even sold a hundred copies each? I looked up a few of them on Amazon and their sales ranks were very low-in the millions, and even her supposed “bestseller” had a sales rank around 400,000. That’s actually not such a bad number, but it’s not all that impressive either.

So what makes this author think her book is somehow superior to the self-published books? Simply because a publisher chose to publish it for her, no matter how small that publisher is or how bad at marketing. This author said it’s not about the money, and I have to come to the conclusion it’s not about book sales either for her, or she’s deluded into thinking her book sales are truly impressive. I wonder whether it’s even about good writing. I think, ultimately, it’s about the “prestige” of being traditionally published, and she was ready to rub the self-published authors’ noises in her achievement, even if her publisher is some small press hardly anyone ever heard of.

I wouldn’t have given her the satisfaction of buying her book from her at the event, but I did decide to order the book off Amazon and I read it, and I found it to be a fairly well-written book stylistically, though lacking on plot and rather depressing. It wasn’t my kind of book, but I couldn’t fault it for its writing. Still, the cover was not that well done-I would have thought it was self-published upon first sight if I had not been told otherwise, and honestly, I’ve read plenty of self-published books as good as or better than her book.

Part of this author’s argument was the value of working with an editor. I always recommend authors find good editors to work with them, and plenty of self-published authors do (the ones who don’t are usually the ones who give self-publishing a bad name). That said, I’ve read plenty of traditionally published books that have mistakes in them, and not just by small presses, but very large well-known publishers as well. When a big name publisher like Oxford University Press can make a statement that it no longer feels it is necessary to correct split infinitives in its books (see http://oxforddictionaries.com/page/grammartipsplitinfinitive ), you have to wonder whether the quality of the editors at large presses

By yanam49

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