POST SCRIPT TO MY PREVIOUS POST:
I was amazed at a recent article entitled: “Are Self-Published Authors Really Authors Or Even Published?”
I hate to dignify such a question by answering, but I will for the sake of any who are confused by it. I will begin with a definition provided by a friend who owns a book store:
“A Smashword book with an ISBN Number that has been accepted into Smashwords Premium Catalogue sells to brick and mortar book stores as well as popular on-line book stores. This would certainly be more than enough to qualify any book as a “real” book, and one written by a “real” author, that would be “really” published. Authors who publish through Smashwords have books available all over the world through Apple, Kobo, Diesel, Barnes and Nobel and many others.
IF SMASHWORD PUBLISHING IS “NOT REAL” AND ITS BOOKS “NOT REAL” AND ITS AUTHORS “NOT
REAL” THEN BOOKSTORES ALL OVER THE WORLD HAVEN’T RECEIVED THE NEWS.
If an independent author chooses to publish e-books through Amazon.com they will find many of them do not have ISBN Numbers––what bookstores everywhere typically use to define a “real” book. This is the reason (along with others) why ninety-nine percent of the time, you can’t find Amazon published books in your Mom and Pop Book Stores, but there are others. One of the owners of this kind of retail outlet––a traditional brick and mortar book store––told me a year ago, that they DO NOT stock Amazon e-books and their Create-a-Space Paper Books. “For us to buy books from Amazon,” she said, “would be like K-Mart buying from Walmart. Amazon is a primarily a retailer, it simply doesn’t make sense for small books store owners to buy from our biggest competitor.” In the meantime, the mom and pops appear to have adjusted by offering e-books in their retail stores as well as on their in house websites.
But to suggest authors who publish through Amazon are NOT writers OR authors, OR “REAL” is not only ludicrous, it’s ridiculous and self-serving.
Those who look down their noises at fellow writers remind me of the oft told story about King Tut. After making love to Queen Tut, he carried her out to the settee on their bedroom balcony. Surveying the kingdom below, the queen let out a sigh and reached for the king’s hand.
“My dear,” she said to him, “do you think all the people below enjoy love-making as much we do?”
“Of course not,” the king replied, “it is too good for them!”
I think those who puff up with pride and call themselves author, while diminishing writers who have less experience and skills, need to come down off their high-horses and show compassion. Whether derogatory comments are said as a joke or seriously, it would appear, dated professor types are trapped in the grip of ego–unconsciously clinging to days when editors groomed their promising authors––Don Quixote clones chasing the impossible dreams and demanding todays authors pay the price they had to pay. AND in an entirely different world, where the rules of the game have changed.
What the critics don’t know is todays indies DO pay a huge price and probably work as hard as they did, just differently. Nowadays compared to the old days, there is twice the work to be done because there is no such thing as simply writing. The author today has two jobs and is likely to spend half of his or her time promoting and marketing.
What’s confusing is those who write the most about being accepted by a traditional publishers,appear to be blind to the fact that we are glutted today with publishers who are little more than Vanity Presses, and not as dependable. Such companies make the author PAY THEM, and rarely pay advances. In some situations It’s okay, although better ways are often available––history is full of excellent authors who got started this way, but it’s not a trophy to hold up to the light––brag such companies are better than the indie mavricks who choose to travel the non traditional route. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t––each must be evaluated on individual merit. (The same as books published by Indies.)
Today the costs of promotion is likely to be paid by the struggling author, or later, deducted from the book sales. And when start-up companies go belly up (as many have lately) it is often difficult for the author to get his or her rights returned. Money invested is lost forever and the author’s books removed from the shelves––which is understandable, no company big or small keeps a book that does not make them a profit. More than ever, publishers are simply not willing to take chances on unknown authors. That said, I am all for any new publisher who is doing a great job for authors––often the ones afraid to step out in the cold hard world alone.
But I scratch my head over those who have reached a degree of success––those who are aloof and give off the impression that self-publishing and promotion is beneath them––say they wouldn’t engage in it except for their “less marketable books.” Do they even realize what they are projecting? What they need to do, is look around at what is actually happening in the market place––that soon more than half of all books sold will be e-books and the majority by independent authors––that the numbers are growing exponentially. And tell me, what do these old timers expect new authors to do––live in their shadows and grovel at the big boys feet? Dwell on the negative? Give up? The simple truth is most every writer promotes––some are simply more imaginative than others––more up to date on what social media experts advise.
This subject reminds me of one of my professors. I found out at the end of the semester I was the only one in his class to spend forty dollars for his hundred-page book on teaching methods. Asking for his autograph, I told him, “This is very good, but the price is too high. Let me help you market it.”
He cringed at the idea of giving anyone the impression he would self-promote. I mentioned Howard Gardner––how his best seller on the theory of multiple intelligences had helped untold numbers of young people in classroom settings. He considered what I had to say, but nothing ever came of my proposal.
Perhaps his pride was greater than his belief in what he wrote. Then again, it could have been fear of rejection. It’s one thing to compete on a small campus where you are well liked and far removed from everyday concerns, and quite another, to expose your philosophy to the world.
But today, anyone who wants the public to read their books, needs to reconsider playing the role of prima Donna. Writing a book, is only half the job. The rest is related to promotion and communicating with readers and other authors.
The playing field in publishing has leveled. And although it is a given authors should write what people want to read, and do it well, the little details aren’t make or break. Typos and such––often missed by self-published authors and small publishers––are detracting, but in the overview, are minor details and correctable. Most of all, they are not a problem except for bad reviews they can generate from trigger happy cowgirls in black hats roaming the range all day long looking for greenhorns to shoot out of the saddle. But outside of an author making him or herself a target, mistakes are good. They are the scars worn with honor, and experiences catalogued for future reference.
I recently told a friend: “I’m not afraid of making mistakes, they hurt sometimes, but ultimately I learn from them. As Einstein said: “The only people who don’t make mistakes are those who don’t try anything new.”
Intellectual snobbery and elitism belongs to another age. The readers and authors who cling to it, should consider finding new ways to satisfy their egos, one that doesn’t require belonging to any pseudo-intellectual crowd. (One way would be to help the very writers they so cruely criticize.)
I’ll conclude by paraphrasing Grocho Marks: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that accepts intellectual snobs as members
Copyright G. G. Galt 2013
HypocrisyPhoto Credit © istockphoto.com/ TatyanaG