Tradi-Pub and the Birb
I’m just gonna jump right on into this with both feet, so pardon for my lack of flow!
I was on a blog the other day that had a post discussing publishing in the digital age, building your brand to gain and keep readers, and how having a book published isn’t quite as flashy an accomplishment as it used to be. This is something I’ve considered before, and even posted about. Self publishing platforms, in specific, have removed the “quality control” of traditional publishing houses, and now anyone with a word program can slap together a hundred sentences, upload it, and say “I published a book”. At best, this type of mass publishing will have readers laughing when they hear you’ve self published a story. At worst, the lack of effort put into many of the stories now over saturating the general market will put a bitter taste in their mouths and have them turning away from indie and self published authors altogether.
One bad apple ruins the bunch, dontchano? Not that I haven’t been burned by traditionally published stories, but I digress.
Point being, and I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but it seems a lot of these stories are simply products meant to take advantage of a system. “I can string together about 10k words and sell like a million copies of this short story for .99 cents a pop!” This is making it really hard for writers with an actual passion for their work to get noticed.
Another problematic mentality of some writers is that they believe these platforms are a way to get around the status quo in regards to publishing. For example; “This publishing house rejected me, but I know I have a bestselling novel on my hands, so I’ll just self publish it!” Then they proceed to flip tradi-pubs the bird. Or birb, whatever.
Hold your horses there, speedy. If you were rejected, chances are there’s a good reason. So before you get all flash and fire, it might be a good idea to look into it. Am I saying the tradi-pub house is right and your novel isn’t gold-plated platinum with a chocolaty center? Nope. Maybe they just don’t have the same vision, and can’t see the actual value of your work. But let’s look at the odds here; if everyone who adopted this strategy was right, and the thousands of books that have all been rejected and self published later are bestselling material, then we’d have a world filled with Pulitzer prize winners and the New York Times would break from the overload.
So yeah, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at your work to discern why you were rejected. Doesn’t mean you have to fix up your novel in favor of making another attempt at traditional publishing, but look it over again anyway! It’s just good principle for one, and for another, we’re all in a constant state of learning regardless of our actual skill. So you might just pick something up you hadn’t noticed before.
When it comes to me, I was rejected for publishing a manuscript I’d written about a decade prior to even coming up with the idea for The Crucible Series. It was a historical romance I’d written, and I can say in all honesty that the publishing house who rejected me had every right to. I thought I was ready at the time, thought I had a good story on my hands. But after 10+ years of working to improve my craft, of learning about the industry and reading whatever enlightening bits of information I could get my hands on, I know the painful truth; I was way out of my league.
Hell, I’m still out of my league. The majority of serious writers are. Let me say that again just in case you didn’t catch it; WE ARE OUT OF OUR LEAGUE (including bestselling authors). And you know what? That’s a good sign. Why? Let me put it this way; if you think you’re “above the law” when it comes to writing and publishing your work, then you can apparently do no wrong, which means you don’t make mistakes, which means you won’t learn anything new to advance your craft.
So if you ever get that feeling that you’re in over your head, you’re probably doing something right. There have been a number of times where I’ll sit at my desk, staring at some page of text I’d written while wondering if I’m going in the right direction, or if I need to do a complete overhaul of the scene at hand. Does it fit with the rest of the story? What does doing this thing here mean for another part elsewhere? How does it all tie together and what’s the purpose of involving this information? Is there one? Or does it need to be cut?
Basically, if you’re going at it solo, it’s up to you to make sure everything is falling into place, and that can be a huge, meticulous task. Writing a story isn’t an easy job if you want it to be memorable, and guess what? Even if you write a bestseller, some people may only remember that they hated it. (Ever hear someone ask “wtf I could do better than this!” when reading a bestselling book? Yeeeeeeeah…) So don’t jump the gun. There are enough stinkers out there right now drowning those of us with a real passion for writing and perfecting our craft to add to the mix!
So what’s the bottom line? Is there a bottom line? I realize I’ve made some very generalized points here and also neglected to tackle a number of topics related to the troubles with self publishing platforms in this post, which was intentional on my part because I’m not trying to write a novel (no pun intended :P). In fact, as I read over this again, a million things I’d like to say in addition have come to mind, and maybe one day I’ll discuss them. But for now, I’m just going to leave it where it is as food for thought. :)