Thank you, thank you for your comments on the last post! So many of you said things I should have, things I didn't know, things I hadn't thought of, and things that were just plain awesome. Writers from all kinds of backgrounds, readers, publishing pros--your insights were enlightening. And I've been thoroughly scolded as well.
Now I'll write the comment that you were too civil to write:
"Well, well, well, Miss Hoity-Toity with your fancy New York publisher and smarmy New York agent, deeming to toss crumbs of wisdom to the masses and deigning to smile upon the self-published plebes at your feet, wearing your crown of rejection letters and proclaiming that your way is the only right way."
That's probably how I sounded to many of you. Sorry. I appreciate those who disagreed with me respectfully. I find it encouraging if we can still like and respect people even if we don't agree with everything they think. Let me acknowledge that every single thing I wrote could be wrong, and if anything I said is right, things change so quickly it might be wrong tomorrow. These are my opinions from my personal experience. From some of your comments, I wasn't communicating as clearly as I'd thought (why I need an editor! All the time!) At the risk of alienating even more of you, I'm going to clarify a few things.
First, I made a mistake. When I wrote "amateur" I was thinking of a category, not a definition of quality. I certainly didn't mean it as an insult, though I can understand why some took it that way. I have friends who self-publish and I do not think of them as amateurs. But that word has heavy connotations and it was the wrong one. Mark Twain's lightning bug.
Yes, self-published books can be successful. Yes, they can be top quality. I hope I was clear about that in my last post. But everything involved in self-publishing is harder. To edit and polish a manuscript without an editor is harder. Formatting, printing, distributing, marketing a book without a team of professionals on your side is harder. The successful self-published writers have worked really, really hard, much harder than someone like me, who gets to just write and let my publisher do the other stuff. Self-published authors are also working against a stigma. To excel in that marketplace, self-published books have to fight even harder for notice, to prove to readers that they're not careless uploads like some but an excellent, carefully crafted novel. I think you have to not only be a decent writer to succeed in that market, you have to be an entrepreneur.
If ere you did love me, my friends, believe I did not write that post with bad intent. I do not think less of the writers who have chosen self-publishing as the right route for them. I would be a grade-A schmuck if I did, and I'd understand if you thought I was. Or am. (But my husband asserts that I'm not a schmuck…so, there's that.)
So why did I write the post?
1. Because I want to honor the work editors and publishers do. For many readers, they are invisible in the process, and I felt negligent that I haven't spoken up more about this. I think this is the point where I and some of the commenters most disagree. I feel the work that professional publishers do is very important, and I think their participation in the publication process raises the quality of literature in general. Again, I don't think that ONLY traditionally published books are good, nor do I think that ALL traditionally published books are good.
2. Because I wanted to share my experience with authors who are looking into publishing choices.
3. Because I wanted to start the discussion with my blog readers about the dramatic changes happening in publishing.
I hear people say traditional publishing is dead, but I don't think that's true. There are many routes. And of course the most important part is writing, crafting, developing our skill and becoming the very best writer we can. I believe in the caveat: be wary of anyone who charges you money to publish your book.
I find it interesting how vehemently some disagreed with me and how just as vehemently some agreed. (and also how differently people interpreted what I said--why I need an editor!) No experience is universally true. Which is one reason why I love novels so much.