I like to keep things pretty positive in my world (real and online). I try my best not to get into long-winded pointless debates that end up being more about proving who’s right than actually sharing information. I try not to complain and I don’t hang around people who do. With that disclaimer out there so you know how much this really is bothering me to bring it up here, there is something I am SO sick of in the writing world. It’s this whole self-publishing versus traditional publishing debate. And debate is the nice word for it.
It’s not new, but lately, it’s come across my world frequently. Someone decided to put out a chart supposedly showing how much authors really make. “Supposedly,” because that information really isn’t provided by Amazon or publishers, so in my opinion, it’s pointless speculation. But one thing it’s good for? Crushing dreams.
I think (I hope) we all know that bring a writer really isn’t a highly profitable business. There are the few who strike it big, but they are rare. In a bright, colorful chart outlining all the ways in which your life as a writer will be a fruitless effort of failure is helping no one. That chart is not going to inspire the next great novel or convince one writer bordering on the edge of giving up, to keep going.
Someone else decided to write an very lovely article in which he decided that no self-published writer should be called an author. I’m not going to even help his seo by linking to it. Trust me when I say it’s not worth your time. And who says he gets to decide anything about anyone? Writer, author, pen monkey? What’s the difference? Nothing! It’s a word, a title, a state of mind. It’s just semantics. But you know what? It upset a lot of people. And again, the benefit is what? He gets publicity for being a jerk? Is this a case of “no press is bad press”?
I am not going to state my personal opinion of publishing methods. I have not had direct experience with either one, though I’ve done my homework and I know which direction I want to pursue. My problem with things like these articles and the endless self vs. traditional debate are:
- Who *!#*@$? CARES?!
I am not interested in your opinion of what you think I should do with my writing and/or writing life. You want to help me, inspire me, even give advice, great. I love it. I’ll take it all day. But you want to define someone on your terms? You want to decide that one method is better for everyone? No. No one cares about a self-important opinion.
- We’ve all got ’em.
You know that saying about opinions being like… well, you know. Everyone has one. Hopefully yours is backed by some kind of research and time spent deciding the pros and cons on your own terms. But still. It’s only opinion. Unless someone wants to go Dr. Who style on a book and travel back in time to publish that same book in an alternative method and compare which does better, no one will ever know for sure what the best option was for the book. You make an educated guess and jump, then work your butt off to make that decision work. What worked for one doesn’t work for another. Doesn’t even necessarily work for another book by the same author!
- It’s not beneficial.
Why drag people into these pointless debates? It’s like the iPhone vs. Android. Or Pro-life vs. pro-choice. Or gay marriage vs. straight marriage. Unless your problem is habitual calmness, an argument will not benefit you. So why bother? It’s one thing to have a calm and educated discussion of pros and cons, to make your stand for what you believe. We all have the right to our opinions, but to start name calling and hurling insults? No one will learn anything from it. Do you want to help someone make the best decision for them, or are you only interested in being right?
- It’s a waste of time.
In all the hours spent arguing over self-publishing vs. traditional, some awesome books could have been written. I could have even written a more enlightening blog post. And you just spent time reading this that maybe didn’t benefit you as much as something about characters or plot could have. But we’re human. We want to add our 2 cents. You know what’s right for a writer? TO WRITE!
- We’re all different.
For the same reason there is more than one genre, there are options. Self-publishing is going to be right for some and wrong for others. It’s going to be right for some books and wrong for others. This is not the time to panic about the book market or what’s better. There is not One Publishing Method to Rule Them All. There are options! There are options for writers that we’ve never had before. Now is the time to embrace them, to push the bar and do something awesome! Find new ways to make eBooks rock. Figure out how to make a splash in the self-pub market. Be the next breakout in the traditional world. Whatever you do. Just do it better. Those who excel are the ones who put time and effort into creating the best book they can, not the best way to “win” the publishing argument.
Live and let live. You want to self-publish? Sweet. Do it. You want to find an agent? Awesome! Get your queries out there. There is no right or wrong, there is no better or worse. There is only different. Some people like cats. Some people like dogs.
There are pros and cons on both sides of the publishing spectrum. Do your research. Make your book the best it can possibly be. Then, decide who you will pay to make it better–a hired editor/cover artist or an agent/publisher.
Only you can decide what’s right for you. It’s no one else’s business what you want to do with your writing career (expect maybe your spouse–it’s totally his or her business). Don’t let anyone define you or label you.
You are a writer. Go forth and write. And don’t let anyone convince you to do otherwise.