I keep trying to wean myself off of the self-publishing controversy blogs, but I do have a semi-rooting interest and it can be entertaining sometimes. Lately the big theme has been “hey we’re just as good as those (bestselling) schmoes so hey”. It’s gone beyond inferiority-complex-defensiveness and gone on the offensive against the other self-publishing wannabees whose “quality” is not up to snuff. We oughta be in the big time now, we’re not in the “minor leagues” anymore, they say. So all of you bush leaguers get out of Dodge or at least hire editors and proofreaders and cover artists and make your books read and look like ours! These posts get a lot of supportive comments from other indie writers laying claim to the same exalted heights, and sometimes I take a peek at their links to see just who they are and what they’re selling. On the whole, they do seem to be on a par with “the big leagues”. You have your derivative spy thrillers, your tedious historical romances, your blood mopping CSI detectives, your typical Jack Machos and epically endless Space Chronicles, surprising Schools for Young Geniuses and tremendously romantic misfit werewolf and otherwise Teenagers. The covers likewise leap straight off the supermarket and drugstore shelves. Impossible to tell the difference. Yep, and they also let you know how much money they made, much like the retirees working at home in their spare time advertising on telephone poles in a neighborhood near you.
As professionals, these self-publishing authors should have more self-respect and higher self-esteem, and not continually compare themselves to “traditionally published” authors, who by and large are not better and no worse than they are.
I’m right there with my old friend, the judgmental bookseller ostrich! Go ahead and write your summer beach reading and be as awful damn proud of it as you like, but why, people, why lash out at others less grammatical than thou, the typographically challenged, the desperate scribes of nary a clue who have just as much right and just as much access to the send button as you? You say they only confuse the issue? You say they muddy the waters and tar you all with the same stigmatic brush of less-than-USDA-approved quality standards? You say there’s too much noise, how can your glorious purely pitched signals ever find their way through to the ear of their true and deserving readers?
How about this? Leave the term “self-published” to those to whom it always belonged – the great teeming mass of unwashed rejected scribblers – and coin a new term that represents only those who can honorably carry the flag of “just as good as those other crappy fuckers who sell a lot of books”. Let’s call it something “Right-Published” (like when a corporation “right-sizes” their workforce) or, Alt-Published or I don’t know, come up with something. You’re good with words. You should be able to do that. Rebranding works for corporations. Philip Morris became Altria! That’s one way to crawl out from beneath the stigma.
Some of us who are self-publishing are amateurs and hobbyists and like it just the way it is, with no barriers, no attitude, no pretentiousness, no self-importance, just the freedom to publish what we want.