It amazes me the things people say about the publishing industry. I often wonder if there’s a magical world that some of these folks live in that I somehow missed the train to get to. It’s almost like an anti-publishing psychosis that leads certain individuals to spout nonsense as if it’s fact. I liken this sort of staunch, ignorant anti-traditional-publishing/pro-self-publishing-with-lies to FOX News and its continued claim that it’s fair and balance, when clearly it’s not (it’s not really a news organization either, if you want to get right to it, but most of the T.V. news stations aren’t about news anymore–FOX is just more loudmouthed about its inaccuracies).
So, when I saw this post about publishers being doomed and why it doesn’t matter, I about choked on whatever I was drinking at the time. The post is full of so much nonsense it’s like eating a Glenn Beck/Bill O’Reilly/Rachel Maddow/Keith Olbermann orgy sandwich. Case in point, I give you the following paragraphs (edited down to get rid of the fat):
Yeah? So what. So we lose publishers and book stores. Who cares? The key in Grisham’s statement is where he says, ‘…and though I’ll probably be alright.’ He means writers will be alright. The big scary fact of the matter is that we simply don’t give a tiny damn whether or not a publisher prints a book or an author does. Publishers read, accept, edit, design, print and promote books. At least they used to. I don’t care what anyone tells you, but we do not need the editors. Writers can do that. You write the book and you edit it and you’re done with it. Readers are getting used to reading writers without editors. That’s why blogs are so popular. No editors…No reader cares about Penguin.
There is absolutely no excuse for a writer to work hard on a story, hammering it into existence from nothing, polishing it and making it exactly what he or she wants it to be… and then sit around to wait for some agent or publisher to get back via the U.S. mail so that said writer can be allowed to move on and send out yet another plea for acceptance.
Can you see why I liken this to FOX News? There’s so much wrong with this that the only way I can break it down and correct its inaccuracies is to take it to task, piece by piece.
Claim #1 — Who cares about losing publishers and bookstores? (WRONG)
A lot of people do, including authors. Loss of bookstores means loss of sales. Loss of publishers means authors now have to fork out thousands and thousands of dollars to market their books to even make a reasonable living, while simultaneously fighting off the still legitimate stigma against self-publishing. How many writers do you know who can afford a twenty city book tour across the U.S.? Maybe a few dozen at best, all of them successful because of bookstores and publishers. There are no self-published authors who can meet the financial power of folks like Grisham. None.
Claim #2 — Grisham means that all writers will be alright (WRONG)
No, Grisham means that he will be alright, which is why he said that he will be alright. Grisham is not a moron. The guy is filthy rich for writing stories that people want. That’s reality. If nobody wanted his books, he wouldn’t be filthy rich. And when he says he will be alright, he understands that the economy, the way books are being marketed, and the way the publishing industry is changing will ultimate change nothing at all for him. For everyone else that isn’t on the same financial tier? They’re probably going to suffer.
Claim #3 — We don’t give a damn who prints a book (author or publisher) (WRONG)
If the author actually knew the industry, he’d know this claim is a load of B.S. I don’t know who the hell the “we” is, but consumers still care very much about who publishes a book. Authors care too. The assumption in the self-publishing world seems to be that because more people are SPing, that means traditional publishing is losing ground. The reality? The Internet has just made it easier to SP, so more people who might not have done it before because of the cost, are doing it now. That doesn’t mean that self-publishing is magically better than it was before POD or the net, it just means that it’s bigger because more people can do it. Consumers still pay attention to this and still give a crap about who publishes a book. Sales show this to be true. If this wasn’t true, we’d see more self-published books getting the same play as folks like Grisham or Rowling or whomever. Since we don’t, this claim is bogus.
Claim #4 — Publishers don’t read, accept, edit, design, print and promote books anymore (WRONG)
Publishers may not be promoting as many books as they have in the past, but they are still promoting books, a lot. In fact, you’d be surprised how many books do get marketing campaigns, however small, thanks to blogging and the like. I regular get emails about books that recently came out that have not be chucked out there like all the big boys. I read some of those books too. They promote books all over the place, but since consumers want more books than they ever did before (even if they don’t read them), publishers have to pump out more volumes each year. I don’t like it, but consumers do have a lot of power in the book industry.
As for the other stuff: I don’t think the author has ever worked for a publisher. I have, and still do. We read, accept/reject, edit, design, and print (well, in digital form) all kinds of books. I mostly do the reading and accepting/rejecting, but I know that someone edits the books and designs them for release. But, then, this whole complaint by the author of the post in question makes no sense when you get to the next section. Why the hell would he care if publishers edit books if he honestly doesn’t believe writers need editors? Seems to me that if you don’t care about editors, then you also don’t care if publishers edit books or just shoot them out there willy nilly. Very contradictory!
Claim #5 — Writers do not need editors (WRONG)
This statement is so wrong it actually hurts my brain. Writers don’t need editors? Are you kidding me? This is like saying that humans don’t need oxygen. The only way I can refute this is to show you examples of what is so horribly wrong with this statement. Below you’ll see two examples. Any error you see actually exists in the text. If you really want to see the full (or preview) texts for these to confirm how horrible they are, the titles are links to places you can go to read from the source.
The Zoan sewers was a quiet smelly place.
It was filled with rats , alligators and more.
Rats were screeching as they were attacked by a young boy who wielded a bronze sword.
“25, 26, 27 , 28, 29, 30!!” he counted as the rats fell dead to the ground.
An eight year old boy walked in to the sewers.
“Jaden!!!, Jaden!!!” shouted the boy running.
The boy wielding his sword turned to the eight year old.
“Ben what are you doing here?” asked Jaden.
“List was looking for you, she says Ol, Jolly Dex has a job for you, so she sent me to find you she says to meet her at the shop” Ben replied.
“Okay I am done with training for the day” said Jaden as he stretched his arms.
Tom and Amy get off the jet with their two kids,John and Kimberly, and go straight to the waiting area to wait for the Space Jet to Mars. This is Tom’s first time in space, so he read all the pamphlets that were offered to him on the Karman Jet. His wife and kids took the sedatives they were offered at boarding and slept during the three-hour trip to the moon. Tom wanted to experience the flight into orbit that he enjoyed, even though he got sick and needed the bag that was under his seat. He was well informed about space and Mars by the time he got to the moon. When the jet landed at the moon base, Tom woke his wife and kids to a surprise that their feet tended to float. He helped his kids with their moon boots that were weighted books, so they wouldn’t float away. Tom’s wife Amy had a hard time getting used to the weightlessness of the moon, so she wasn’t much help with the kids. Tom suggested that they would just wait in the food court until the space jet to Mars was read for boarding.
I rest my case.
Claim #6 — Because readers don’t care about editors, that is why blogs are so popular (NOT QUITE)
There is a difference between reading a blog and reading a book or a newspaper. Readers are not dumbasses. They know when a product is meant to be edited, and when a product is not. Readers read blogs with this information sitting in the back of their minds. They become more critical when they know that the product they are reading is supposed to be processed and edited in a professional fashion. Blogs are not, generally speaking, done this way, and since readers know that, they know what to expect from a blog.
Claim #7 — Writers shouldn’t work hard and wait on publishers (NOT QUITE)
The part of that statement that bugs me the most is where the author of this piece makes it seem as though you have to wait on a publisher to get permission to start something else. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Publishers actually want you to move on to something else. Why? Because if they buy your product, they probably will ask for first dibs on whatever you have coming next; having that next book started or finished by the time your first book gets published is a good way to keep ahead of the game.
But, to the statement itself: writers should always work hard, period, and waiting on publishers is just the way it works. There’s a reason why people still go to publishers: it looks better, you get better products, and you get paid from the start. Rarely are these things not true. Publishers also offer exposure on a level that self-publishing cannot achieve without the author spending incredible amounts of money. Try getting your SPed book into a Barnes & Noble bookstore or Walmart. Not easy is it? Want to know why? Because consumers are not interested in potentially crappy products. They want guarantees. Publishers offer guarantees, and while they do not always deliver, they do have a great track record for keeping consumers happy; this is not true of SPing, and so most bookstores won’t carry SPed books precisely because the professional quality is impossible to guarantee.
And that’s that. There are other things wrong with the post in question, but it would take a whole series of posts to adequately deconstruct every single incorrect assumption placed there. For now, this should do reality justice.
If any of you have read the piece, please feel free to give me your opinion. The comments section is always open for thoughts!