Publishing: Them vs. Us
Blogger: Wendy Lawton
One of the most frustrating attitudes that has grown out of the new publishing paradigm is a them vs. us mentality. If you’ve spent any time at all reading writing blogs it won’t be long until you come across this mindset.
Here’s how it sometimes reads:
- Traditional publishers have long made their money on the backs of writers.
- They pay a pittance and they expect the world.
- They only really get excited about famous authors or celebrity authors.
- They seem to close ranks to keep talented writers out.
And agents are not immune. According to some of the recent anti-agent screeds:
- We are yet another filtering system put in place to keep talented writers out.
- We live in the pockets of traditional publishing.
- Without traditional publishing, agents would not exist.
- We are a soon-to-be-obsolete profession.
I’m not going to take time to debate these erroneous suppositions. Instead, I want to talk about the “them vs. us” mindset. It doesn’t have to exist.
Let’s say you decide to build your own home using your own ideas and a friend who is a draftsman. Do you have to trash architects, contractors and the professional trades in order to justify taking up a hammer and digging in? Of course not. The finished house will speak for itself. That’s just like the traditional publishing industry. They have the experience and the track record but that’s not to say that vision and hard DIY work will not create a wonderful book (or house). Both traditionally built homes and owner built homes can exist side by side. The architects and contractors of the world are not out to get you. And both traditionally published books and self-published books can exist side by side.
It’s the same thing when you go to sell that home. You can choose a professional real estate broker who’s done many deals and can protect you from all kinds of unforeseen pitfalls or you can sell it yourself with help from a lawyer or a For-Sale-By-Owner company. If you decide to sell it yourself, do you have to be resentful toward the realtors who are unwittingly keeping you out of multiple listings? It makes no sense, just as it makes no sense to resent literary agents.
By the same token, shame on us in traditional publishing if we look down our nose at self-pubbed books. We talk about some of the pitfalls of self-publishing, like how to seperate the sublime from the dreck and the challenge traditionally published books share–discoverability, but a self-published book may be an absolute gem. Some of my own clients are dipping toes into self-publishing with our blessing. Let me tell you, those books are superb even though traditional publishing found no slot for them.
If you are a self-pubbed author, you benefit from some of the advertising and marketing done by traditional publishers and libraries that regularly whet readers’ appetites for reading. And, again, if you are self-pubbed author, we hope you benefit from much of the information we agents offer daily in our blogs. It’s our way of giving back.
So, your turn. What is it that keeps us from appreciating each other?
Do traditional publishers and self-publishers need to be at odds? Click to Tweet
Are DIY and Traditional Publishing mutually exclusive? Click to Tweet
Traditional pub and self-pub. . . Why can’t we all be friends? Click to Tweet