Monday, April 4, 2011

The Adventures of the Hypocritical Quality Police

Here we are in 2011 and there are still traditionally published authors and literary agents squawking about self-publishing, some even claiming--or suggesting--that self-pubbed authors are arrogant because they choose to bypass the traditional publishing "system" and go straight to print. The "pay-to-publish" concept drives those individuals crazy. Why? Mostly because they believe self-pubbed authors (and their books) are actually devaluing literature and threatening the publishing industry by bypassing the system in place. Don't get me wrong, many traditionally published authors (and even agents!) understand that self-publishing is a viable option and it is hard work. Barry Eisler, for instance, recently walked away from a $500,000 deal in order to self-publish. No joke! But the complainers out there, lots of them are self-appointed "quality police," judging self-pubbed work and making insane and unfair generalizations about self-publishing. Ironically...or hypocritically...the Quality Police come off as arrogant (the very thing they accuse self-pubbed authors of being) by basically implying that no one is "really published" unless they've gone the traditional route.

Some authors feel the desire to be validated by a literary agent and/or traditional publishing house, and that's fine.  However, many authors in the world don't have that desire. They don't care what agents and traditional publishing houses think. They believe their work is good and publishable, therefore they publish it and allow the readers to do the validating. This does not mean that these authors are arrogant.

The fearful Quality Police keep trying to stigmatize self-publishing. They act like schoolyard bullies by constantly telling the world that indie authors (i.e. self-published authors) aren't cool or talented. That, my friends, is not cool! The Quality Police should really lighten up and trust that the consumers will decide what's good and bad. Bad books exist in both the self-publishing and traditional publishing business models (as do good books). Self-publishing doesn't devalue literature; bad literature does!

So what do you think about all of this? Feel free to let me know...


  1. This is a funny post. It made me laugh out loud. those quality police don't get it.

  2. Oh don't stress. You know what I think about authors who have attitudes like that/say things like that about self-publishers?? I think (really) that they can't afford to publish themselves, so they couldn't even if they wanted to and they say these things to make themselves feel better. It does take a considerable amount of money from your own pocket to publish yourself! Also, I think that they lack in imagination and ingenuity! One of the most wonderful things in the world: is to make your own book! I first had the idea when I was seven! When I was seven and all wonderful and full of imagination and ingenuity! In addition to these things I have mentioned, they may also be the type of a person who needs the approval of others before he/she can begin to really believe in his/her self! And what happens when the big publishing houses pull the plug on them? They fade into oblivion..............

  3. Wow, you knew you wanted to publish when you were seven? That's incredible, C. JoyBell!

    I see you share my frustration. It's just sad that some of those folks can't just respect the decisions of others and show support instead of condemnation. We're all on the same team!

  4. HAHA! Yes. I first had the idea of making my own book, when I was seven, I wrote a piece all about it on my blog, it's called "The Story Of A Little Girl In Red Shorts" :) It was always my idea! If I was to be a writer, I was to make my own book! :) That's the only way to go! I didn't want to simply write, I wanted to create the whole book myself. :) And I have since learned that the experience of creating a book is extremely fulfilling, I wouldn't exchange it for any other nature of work! :) I love it! :)

  5. I think that many people- publishers, authors, and readers, alike- fear the unknown elements of success in the self-publishing market. While traditional publishers have legions of watchmen- agents, editors, reviewers- to keep subpar literature from ever seeing the light of publishing day, indie authors with a handful of cash can see their book in prink or e-form with little to no editorial advice. Hence, the book can be published while littered with grammatical errors, typos, or worse, a storyline that simply is without merit. With self-publishing success stories on the rise, I think it leaves many to wonder who the gatekeepers will be.

    Do we need gatekeepers? I, for one, say yes. Does that mean all indie lit is garbage? No. There are a lot of great writers out there struggling to get into a tight market. Sigh! But there are a lot of authors who think they are great, yet could still use a few lessons learned the hard way- rejection. Not everything written deserves to be published, and while everyone may have a story to tell, not everyone’s story is worth reading. Just my opinion, naturally. :)

    P.S. I think the success in the self-pub market is great!

  6. C. JoyBell: Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! You love the self-publishing process and you have every right to self-pub without being ostracized or stigmatized.

  7. Pam: You're right; unfortunately, some self-pubbed authors decide to present their work to the public unedited, which is NEVER a good idea. Readers recognize all of the errors you mentioned and usually give those books bad reviews with poor ratings. I've always believed that if you're going to self-publish, you should hire a professional editor and book designer to ensure that the product is polished and ready for readers.

    Who will the gatekeepers be? I think the market will decide. I believe agents and large publishing houses will always exist, and that's fine. But what really drives me crazy is when I hear certain agents and authors (only a few) bashing indie authors in general. I've read tons of high quality indie books from authors who took their time perfecting their books. Those authors positively impact readers and definitely deserve the respect from the publishing world.

    P.S. Me too! Readers are extremely intelligent and usually do a great job identifying quality literature.

  8. Anonymous12:23 AM

    J J, are you against traditionall publishing?

  9. Anon: Absolutely not. I believe traditional publishing is an amazing option for many, and so is self-publishing.