Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Self-Publishing Ramble.

But first, the Relay went great, thanks for asking. I came third in lap count and got a (virtual) trophy. In twenty-four hours I ran the equivalent of 210 miles. I also watched the entire Harry Potter movie series while this went on, and made a discovery:  I had always been annoyed at Harry in the last three movies. He seemed whiny and incapable of seeking help. Having seen the movies all in series, I have transferred my annoyance to Dumbledore. He scarcely seemed to be the same character from one scene to the next, to say nothing of one movie to the next. If I had been Harry showing up in the otherworldly King's Cross, I'd have punched him in the face.


So this is happening today:  a pay-for-love review site has been exposed for what it is, and they aren't happy:

I struggle with the idea of self-publishing. Well, no, I don't; I don't like it with fiction, and that gets me in trouble. But I don't want my work going down a path I don't follow as a reader and a book buyer. I only buy self-published books written by friends. There are just too many books to read even if you're only reading the award winners, the new books by known writers, and the well-reviewed books from new writers. Heck, I just subscribed to the New York Review of Books like an idiot, and I have a four-foot stack of to-be-read books right now. And then there's the preview list for the second half of 2012 from The Millions...


So I am not out browsing for random self-published books. Even if I were, frankly, I am a damn picky reader. My mother sent me a book recently (I'll review when I finish it), thinking it would be an easy read because it's a big commercial thriller. Well, no, it isn't easy, because the writing is distractingly poor. Some of the sentences...

I can't read indifferent writing. And what do I fear in spending ten or twenty bucks for a novel that the writer alone feels is worthy of being published? Right. Indifferent writing. And I don't want to send my own baby floating down that river.

Self-publishing has developed into a dark twin of commercial publishing, with writers sending themselves on "book tour," calling local bookstores trying to arrange signings, and outfits like the one above selling glowing reviews for a hundred bucks a throw. Over on the Bewares and Background Checks forum on Absolute Write, this is called "Published Author, the Role-Playing Game." I don't want to play. And, as in the realm of screenwriting, I loathe the people that are getting rich helping others pretend. Or worse, fooling them into thinking this is the real thing.

I hope most writers are choosing this deliberately. As I've been told repeatedly, it's hard to get an agent, so why not? But shouldn't it be hard to get an agent if your work isn't there yet? Why would you still want your book out there if that's the case?

Sigh. I don't know. I can't even get a "no thanks" out of the last agent I queried and am soon to put that book on the shelf while I start the next (once I get the tile guys out of my house). I don't query enough, I know, and am easily discouraged.

Can I somehow convince myself I'm wrong and I should put the new book, the old book, and the next book out myself? Will that be giving up on what was the goal?

What's the right thing here?

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