And why if you want to write a really
good book - a prize-winning one, in this case - self-publishing is not the answer:
"Maybe the deprofessionalization of publishing isn’t just a looming disaster for the book business—there are, after all, not that many of us left in the industry—but for the millions of readers ... Every book that doesn’t first have to get past a gatekeeper or two, or 10, before being put in front of the public will be worse."
Thanks for posting this link.
An interesting read, thanks for sharing.
As one of the comments suggested, I think the article missed out one important aspect and that's the audience itself as another 'gatekeeper'. With social media and the strangest things going viral these days, even a rough around the edge self published story could make it big.
I know the main issue is quality, but film makers and musicians can both do well with amateurish, raw and rough edited work, so why not allow writers the chance?
What disturbed me most, and was glossed over by Chris Pavone, was the extent of the changes he was obliged to make in order to get published. He seemed to think the changes were all for the better, but better for whom? The publishers no doubt. I was hoping he would say something about how he felt about losing authority over his work.
He can point out that he won the prize and that is justification, but what if he hadn't won it, and sales were disappointing?
I can imagine it would be quite damaging to your confidence - your original work has been commercialised and the market decides it's merely average. What happens then? Well, no need to answer.
Does anyone know of a blog by a 'second-class' author? That is, one who's gone through the publishing treadmill, and emerged not just unsuccessful, but crushed?
I haven't read all of the article but think I've got the main direction. I think he's confusing two things: editing and creativity. Yes, of course, any book needs editing if it's going to be at its best. But the problems of traditional publishing - playing safe, producing too much derivative work, marketing the f*ck out of everything - are often, I'd argue, over-stepping their editing brief and directly interfering with creativity.
I genuinely believe that what the traditional gatekeepers are most fearful of are authors who don't sacrifice their creativity, write the book they want to write, then go pay professional editors, designers, etc, to make it good - but within their terms. Hugh Howey is a very good example of this. The fact he's chosen to sign with a traditional publisher shouldn't obscure the fact that he made his initial huge success by writing the book he wanted to write. I honestly believe that most trad. publishers would have rejected it, simply because they couldn't fit it neatly into their various marketing buckets. Or they'd have taken it, but only if he made lots of moderations - not to becoming a better book but to become something a sales team robot could sell in a few words to a distributor.
Also, while it's true that the industry has lots of trained and talented editors, the evidence of their skills is often plainly lacking in the final product - resource pressures, and all that.
Hi- Interesting- it was what I expected him to say and I probably don't share his views but I got side tracked on that site's 'soap box' list a bit further down about the writing cave which some writes have- I think it is a big cellar actually- anyway good post Emma lots of useful stuff there very interesting for coffee break! MC
Edited by Alex29 at 14:00:00 on 19 February 2014
You know, I don't think there is an actual argument here. Everyone is right. If you self-publish hastily, and without input from others and without professional editing, then the book won't be as good as it could have been, and probably will fall flat on its face. But if you do it in a fully professional way, it can be the way to publish the book that you
want to write, and not the one that a marketing department wants to make it.
I think the article missed out one important aspect and that's the audience itself as another 'gatekeeper'
Yes, I thought exactly that when I read it.
I'm refreshed to see that the others here share my opinion, but I was worried when I posted this morning that I might sound like an arrogant no-it-all. I'll risk it and let it out now though.
My concern matches yours. Self publishing might result in a weaker work, but I've read a lot of extremely uninspiring books over the years. Things I pick up that are splattered with 'bestseller' seem to have an alright story (rather than outstanding) but are often written in a very clumsy manner.
Editing a book so many times, especially if it's done my multiple people, seems really over the top and it makes me wonder what was edited and how badly. If I ever get to the publishing stage and I'm told to cut things, change scenes or something drastic then I'd request some very good reasons.
I wonder, is it like mainstream music and mainstream films/tv? Made to be as politically correct as possible to appeal to the widest possible audience.
I hate that new films push the rating down to 12 or 15 to appeal to a wider audience. Sometimes it makes them weak and feel unnatural. Do publishers want your book to sell to as many people as possible? Of course. Will they twist and shape your work to appeal to the masses, chopping off rough corners that might offend people? I really hope not, or I might never sell anything because I'd *cough* "politely but firmly refuse".
It's all a matter of opinion, but also what goals you set yourself. Do you want to write specifically for best seller lists and prizes, or do you write for yourself for the love it and be happy if that only ever reaches a smaller audience?
Do you want to write specifically for best seller lists and prizes, or do you write for yourself for the love it and be happy if that only ever reaches a smaller audience?
I'm going to make an easy guess and say that most want best-sellerdom and don't care that much if the publishers butcher their work. Chris Pavone obviously didn't bother that much. But, yes, he did say his work was being improved.
I believe writing is a creative art and a fine handicraft. And I don't care how many edits I need to make. Like a sculptor working on a bust, each edit chips away a bit of excess or adds a bit of substance - until a perfect whole is achieved. Of course, the finished work may be like a Henry Moore to most people, but that's the way it is.