None of it was meant to say that self-publishing cannot work--there are many kinds of self-publishing, and when passionandsoul self-publishes his books on rope bondage, or alexandraerin puts her stories online for donations, or haikujaguar sells her books and art through her own site, these are obviously positive things. They are also unique, high quality, and not representative of any way of the experience most people will have in self-publishing. And it needs to be pointed out that my own success in that field is directly related to my traditional publishing career, not despite it or separate from it.
I like the cottage industries of etsy and Livejournal, I like the work of independent artists--but not simply because they are independent. And I don't want the entire world to become etsy. Most of my friends can barely get seen over there as it is, let alone make a living.
Obviously I am as invested in the online donation model and crowdfunding as I am in traditional publishing. Which is why I would rather not be drowned in a wave of unedited horrorshows because a huge number of artistic paths and options got removed through the death of publishing. It's about choice. I should be able to choose as an artist to sell my own work however I like, or have it sold for me if that's what I want. Reducing choice is rarely good, and that's what Amazon is really doing: trying to reduce readers ability to choose anyone but them. And writers, too--let's not forget their attack on POD presses a few years back in all this.
What I said was that the self-publishing world contains vastly more badness than goodness, and navigating the reader toward your own work is brutally hard when most authors do not have concurrent training in marketing, professional graphic design and book packaging. This is not a controversial statement. All it means is that the good self-published projects out there are in desperate need of funding and attention because it's true even now that they are much harder to find than a book in a bookstore or on an online bookseller. (Check crowdfunding )
As for the idea that New York level editing is available free or cheap from your nearest writer-group buddy, I can only say I hope that one day those who think that get to work with a top-level editor, and find out what an amazing, transformative experience that can be, how it can help them grow as a writer in ways they couldn't imagine on their own, sort of by definition. Then ask that editor how much they get paid.
Self-publishing has so many defenders, crusaders, and zealots. It is not in any danger. It will always be an option. But options are what is in jeopardy right now.
To manglequote a favorite movie: Amazon is Amazon's friend!
Rules for Anchorites
Letters from Proxima Thule
- A Note Regarding Yesterday's Post