Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Reason I’m Sticking with Traditional Publishing

Don’t get me wrong. I think this is a brave new world in publishing with so many new opportunities. I love that authors are re-releasing their backlists. Heck, I’m even dipping a toe into the waters of self-publishing by releasing one of my historicals written under my previous name . But for the most part, I’m sticking with the non-indie books (hypocritical much?).

Before you start throwing things at me, let me explain. I think it’s great that authors have a choice right now. Really I do. You’ve written a book and you want to see it published. I can understand that feeling. More than you know. But as an author (and let me just come out and tell you that I am traditionally published by a traditional house), I don’t have a lot of time to read. When I read, I want the book to take me away, and for it to do that, it has to be clean, well constructed, and sing (metaphorically speaking).

Again, before you throw things at me, let me continue. I’m not saying that indie authors don’t know what they’re doing. I’m sure many of them do. And yes, I have read traditionally published books that are terrible—and I don’t mean “just not my taste.” I’ve seen error-laden, lazy ass writing from traditionally published authors. But—and many of us do suffer from big buts—I have also read many, many unpublished manuscripts over the years. Not complete ones, but the opening chapters. Hundreds is not an exaggeration (I can’t imagine going through the number of manuscripts an editor or an agent has to). Of the hundreds of chapters I’ve read, I’ve seen maybe two or three, at most five, that were ready to be published. Of the couple dozen that I thought were really good, interesting concepts, great voice, etc, they still needed a lot of work to be publishable—whether the grammar needed work, the pacing, the POV, etc. A good editor could really help those manuscripts. And yes, I’ve also heard that good editors are hard to find. Probably true, but they are out there. My concern is that most authors can’t view their own work with detachment, and I don’t want to read someone’s book that only the author's mother/best friend/husband thinks great. I want someone who has no emotional stake in the author to like the writing.

Keep those rotten tomatoes in your hands for a while longer, please. Recently I’ve heard too many authors say that New York doesn’t know what it’s doing, that so-and-so made it big without traditional publishing, that this big name author is now going indie, that publishing is dead, etc. Maybe that’s so. New York publishers are struggling, really struggling, to figure out what’s happening in publishing. The fact that so-and-so made it big is the exception, not the rule (that’s why we hear about her). The big name author who is going indie knows her craft and has already proven herself a writing entity and has fans who will follow her wherever she will go (“she” used as the default gender pronoun—I’m not thinking of anyone in particular). Publishing is not dead; it’s changing—some of the dinosaurs are gasping, some are blind, some have their heads in the tar pits, but do you really think publishing is dead? They said the same thing when Gutenberg invented the printing press. They said the same thing about movies when television came around. Do you really think publishing will disappear just because we’ve entered a new phase? All authors should be educating themselves and not trusting one side or the other blindly.

But (so many buts in this blog, as if too many of us didn’t already have big buts in our lives), I want someone to have vetted the work I read. I honestly believe I have a better chance at finding a good book that way. I’m not saying that some self-published works aren’t great. I also know that I’ll never find them with this attitude, but I don’t have the time to search or the money, or the patience to wade through the muck. I’m just stating my parameters.

And, yes, I know many people don’t like my books and that’s okay too.

Let the throwing commence.

Books I’m reading now:
Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
Dragonbound by Jade Lee

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you! While I have found a select few independently published works that I was impressed with, I have found far more where poor editing and a need for general "clean up" has been a distraction from the story.

    Now, I will say, in most cases, those independently published works I found worthwhile have since been picked up by major publishing houses for re-release. So, in some cases, if handled correctly, independent or self-publishing can be a good route to take. However, as you said, it is definitely the exception, not the rule.