Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Gate Keeper of Self-Publishing

Most people have only one big complaint against self-publishing. The complaint is that there is no gate keeper. No one guarding self-publishing from being infested by poor spellers and authors. They claim it's full of garbage unlike traditional publishing because no one is weeding out the bad authors from the good.

It's always given me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when self-published authors talk about how other authors give them a bad name. How there's so many self-published authors out there doing a poor job at writing. I think I've finally figured out why this bothered me so much.

One reason it bothers me is that I know I'm not a perfect writer. I know some people that read my book will hate it and that I'm going to make mistakes sometimes in my career. I can't judge other self-published authors as ruining my career unless I first feel perfect myself. I don't. I can always use more practice. I can always use critique partners and an editor. They all help me so much.

Not to mention that this business is a subjective one and someone might read a self-published novel whether it's excellent or not and decide they hate it. They can come to the conclusion that they will also hate all other self-published author, even though this is in no way the fault of the actual author.

The other reason it bothers me is because we aren't doing anything to help one another. Traditionally published authors have a whole group of people running a publishing house to help them perfect their work. What do we have? Only each other. And how often do you see other self-published authors swooping in to help a self-published author who is struggling? Wouldn't we be stronger as a whole if we didn't attack other self-published authors, but instead helped them?

I know there are lots of blogs about how to self-publish better. My blog has some posts along these lines, but there needs to be more than that. We should e-mail each other and support each other more. I know when I made my biggest publishing mistake this past year and was in a teary mess about it, I couldn't have gotten through it without the help of other people. I couldn't have fixed it and decided to do better in the future without that help.

We can be our own gate keepers. We can prevent bad stories from being published by helping other authors not write bad stories.

We all only have a limited amount of time, I know, and we can't control what other authors decide to publish, but I do think we can all make a bigger effort to help.


Valerie Douglas said...

I keep trying to help other authors, but most just want free promotion. And it's not about liking or not liking a writer's work - even classics get bad reviews - but it is about poorly written or badly edited novels. Given your blog, I can't see that being a problem for you!

T.J. said...

I help when I can. Trying to get the word out to others that SP is viable, and I've found more carefully published works by selfers, than the big pub houses. (I could name several series in which I had to quit reading because the writing went so far downhill) We are our own gatekeepers. It is up to us as authors to help newbies (like all of you helped me) learn the ropes, be there when mistakes happen (and they inevitably will), and keep going. I couldn't have done my own novella without watching and asking some of the dumbest questions out there - and I think that is the problem. Many aren't asking questions. They aren't finding editors, or learning to write better, or carefully watching/researching. That doesn't mean they shouldn't, it means they need to care a bit more. Some have read about instant sensations and think, "Oh that's an easy buck!" and pop something up that wasn't truly ready. I've read some great premises, but despaired of the bad writing. I did my best to help. I can say one guy took my advice and has made a decent amount of money ... after some major edits. Score! :)

It's tough for selfers. But the truly good ones keep going, keep learning, keep asking questions :)

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