What do you think of self-published, or “Indie”, authors? Do you feel there’s something “less” about a book that didn’t go through the traditional route to the marketplace, or are they just books that followed another route to said marketplace?
(I’m not asking because I’m considering self-publishing in the near future, although I am considering it in the slightly-more-distant future. There is something admittedly thrilling to knowing that my work doesn’t necessarily face the fate of being stuffed in a drawer and later considered “practice novels”!)
I heard one argument that thinks the opposition to indie authors is somewhat contrived by big publishing: calling self published books "vanity publishing" is like calling an independent insurance agent a "vanity agent". This hit home for me and revealed a monopolistic approach that is inherent to the industry.
There is no doubt the internet is changing the playing field with regard to publishing. The opportunities for the writer are only growing.
I think even a decade ago it would have been thought a lesser effort. But with Internet published news and the like, much less a negative to go an alternate route for publishing.
In reply to Earl, there is a significant difference between "self publishing," and "vanity publishers." A vanity press is a racket designed to play on the dreams of the aspiring writer. They charge exorbitant fees for little or nothing in the way of services for manuscripts they know will likely never sell any more than a few copies to sympathetic family and friends of the artist. A little searching will find you hundreds of horror stories of companies who charged thousands of dollars for alleged editing or cover design and provided poor or no actual copy editing, and horrendously amateurish artwork (look at 'Author Solutions' or 'iUniverse' or 'Xlibris' for examples. Also, read here: http://blog.emilysuess.com/iuniverse-complaints-complete-index/ ). They charge to allegedly put the work in front of Hollywood eyes, a task they almost certainly cannot do. Self Publishing, on the other hand is pretty self descriptive. It is the artist doing the work him or herself. They may hire a professional copy editor, or enlist friends and family to proof read the work. They may use a print on demand service, like Cafe Press, or Lulu, or order a specific quantity of product up front from a printer. They will undertake their own promotion and sales (there is a local writer where I live who had his van done up as a mobile ad for his book). Self publishing is a viable route for some writers in some situations. Vanity publishers are scams of which you should be careful to steer clear.
I don't necessarily think it would be a lesser effort, but I would be more leery of buying it unseen. I've seen some "vanity press" books where the emphasis was on "vanity."
I do think times are changing and for novels that don't fit a neat category, or maybe that aren't necessarily clearly either "literary fiction" (and likely to be picked up by a uni press) or "popular fiction" (a/k/a potential bestseller) probably have a better chance of seeing the light of day with self-publishing.
But still, I've been burned in the past a few times on "vanity press" books, so….
Not at all. Publishers need to make money to stay in business, therefore they are less concerned about quality than about what will sell the most copies. Self published novels include both the worst and the best – not only those that weren't good enough but also those that were too good or too unique for traditional publishers.
Your friend Earl 'nailed it on the head' when he said, "There is no doubt the internet is changing the playing field with regard to publishing. The opportunities for the writer are only growing."……