An Insult to Self-Publishing

30 Dec

As a general rule, I prefer to leave fisking – taking an article line by line and dismantling it – to the experts, like Larry Correia. But every so often something pops up on the internet that leaves me rolling my eyes in disbelief before putting hand to keyboard to refute it. And today there was this article: Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word.

I have spent much of the last year reading articles that praised Trump and damned Clinton, praised Clinton and damned Trump, praised them both, damned them both … and I can honestly say that this article is still the most ignorant thing I’ve read. If it had been written in 2008, perhaps – just perhaps – the writer might have had a point. Now … the level of ignorance is staggering. Ignorance is not, of course, a crime. But one should at least attempt to remedy one’s ignorance before starting to type.

Looking at the author’s bio, I note that she has written travel books. I’ve never read them, so I have no idea if they’re any good or not. And, frankly, I have no idea if self-publishing is a viable path for travel books. I may be wrong about this, but I do question the value of her experience – such as it is – in writing about self-publishing.

I am a self-published author. Indeed, by the only definition that matters – earning enough to live without a day job – I am a successful self-published author. I do not claim to be an expert on self-publishing, but I have considerable experience in the field. And most of the article’s claims are, frankly absurd.

I’ve put her original work in italics and quotation marks, mine in plain text.

“As a published author, people often ask me why I don’t self-publish. “Surely you’d make more money if you got to keep most of the profits rather than the publisher,” they say.”

Assuming that the book was successful in both traditional publishing and self-publishing, your friends are quite right.

The problem with traditional publishing houses is that they make an investment in authors, furnishing everything from the advance, editing and cover design to promotion and publicity. (In theory – in practice, promotion is very limited unless you’re one of the big names.) They want a return on their investment, so the first profits will go to repay them. This has to be done before you see anything after the advance. And even after your book has recouped the advance, you’ll still receive only a small percentage of the profits.

And then there are countless other problems. You might be declared unprofitable and find yourself unable to write or publish further books. You might find your rights held hostage, preventing you from continuing a series elsewhere. And so on …

“I’d rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish.”

Would now be a good time to point out that Trump’s book – The Art of the Deal – has sold better than you and I put together?

“To get a book published in the traditional way, and for people to actually respect it and want to read it — you have to go through the gatekeepers of agents, publishers, editors, national and international reviewers. These gatekeepers are assessing whether or not your work is any good. Readers expect books to have passed through all the gates, to be vetted by professionals. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have.”

And yet, how many of those gatekeepers rejected Harry Potter?

The problem here is that the gatekeepers are no better judges of what appeals to readers than politicians. Indeed, some of them are really nothing more than interns glancing over a few pages before rejecting the book. (I’ve done slush reading. Trust me – it isn’t anything like as much fun as it sounds.) Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. Sometimes they judge books by their content, sometimes they pick and choose for reasons that make very little sense to a normal sane person.

Even if your book doesn’t fall at any of the obvious hurdles, the publisher still has only a limited number of publishing slots. Their first-rank authors (the George RR Martin types) will have first call on those slots. Your book might be rejected or delayed because they don’t have time to publish it.

I’ve had books rejected by these gatekeepers that I self-published and turned into successes.

I’ve also seen books published that were rejected by the reading public. (Or at least me).

The system has its flaws – and they have become more and more apparent as the internet works to democratise publishing.

“Good writers only become good because they’ve undertaken an apprenticeship. The craft of writing is a life’s work. It takes at least a decade to become a decent writer, tens of thousands of hours. Your favorite authors might have spent years writing works that were rejected. But if a writer is serious about her craft, she’ll keep working at it, year after year. At the end of her self-imposed apprenticeship, she’ll be relieved that her first works were rejected because only now can she see how bad they were.”

There is a lot of truth in this, but …

I had an apprenticeship too. I started work in 2005. My first real success came in 2012. Between 2005 and 2012, I wrote around thirty manuscripts – making all the mistakes common to authors of all stripes. I too had people write in and say “you idiot, you killed this character off in the last book.”

The idea that self-published writers have not learnt their craft the hard way is insulting.

Yes, there are people who put their first manuscript on Amazon Kindle and get laughed at, not without reason. But there are professionally published books that are equally as bad.

“Did you ever hear what Margaret Atwood said at a party to a brain surgeon? When the brain surgeon found out what she did for a living, he said, “Oh, you’re a writer! When I retire I’m going to write a book.” Margaret Atwood said, “Great! When I retire I’m going to be a brain surgeon!””

If this is true – and I admit I have no reason to doubt it – I find it odd that Atwood, a hugely successful author, would need to work after retiring. In truth, I think she was having a quiet dig at his suggestion that writing was easy, compared to brain surgery.

But if she didn’t earn plenty of money, this may be because of her publishing contracts, rather than anything to do with self-publishing. Atwood would make lots more money today if she self-published.

“The irony is that now that brain surgeon really could dash off a “book” in a of couple months, click “publish” on Amazon, and he’s off signing books at the bookstore. Just like Margaret Atwood, he’s a “published” author. Who cares if his book is something that his grade nine teacher might have wanted to crumple into the trash? It’s a “published” book.”

There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Marge writes a book. (A soppy romantic book in-universe readers take for a reflection of her married life.) Writers loathe it. The idea that writing a manuscript is easy, followed by getting it published … <shakes head in disbelief>.

This paragraph has the same problem. Yes, a brain surgeon could write a book and self-publish it. But there would be no guarantee of success, no guarantee that he could give up his day job. The idea that he could hop naturally from ‘dashing’ off a book to signing books at a bookstore is absurd.

I am, as I said, a successful self-published author. But it wasn’t until the last convention I attended, a gathering of fans in my field, where I sold and signed more than seven or eight books. Most of my sales are electronic.

But tell me. Do you think I would have any sales – that any author would have any sales – if the books weren’t appealing to a large number of readers?

“The problem with self-publishing is that it requires zero gatekeepers. From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature. As an editor, I’ve tackled trying to edit the very worst writing that people plan on self-publishing just because they can.”

On one hand, there is a good point here. Anyone can publish on Amazon Kindle. But that doesn’t mean that there are no gatekeepers. People can and do post reviews, which help raise the book up high or bury it in the dirt. And yes, most self-publishers could benefit from a beta-reader (or ten) and an editor. But most self-publishers simply don’t have the money to afford one.

And yet, the suggestion that we are an insult to the written word is insulting. Half of history’s greatest hits did not come about because someone wanted to write the Great American Novel. They happened because an author wanted to entertain people.

“I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.”

Except you aren’t. Are you trying to distribute your CD? Are you trying to convince people to buy it? Are you singing in bars and trying to make a splash so some record executive will notice you, or putting your music on YouTube in the hopes of selling enough to live on?

This is the core difference between vanity publishing and self-publishing. The former is an exercise in vanity. It matters very little to the vanity author if anyone buys his books or not -all that matters is that he has it The latter is an attempt to sell books to make money – and a splash. How many indie writers have hit it big, then drawn interest from publishing companies? Those gatekeepers you praise love finding an indie because he already has an audience.

“Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician. It’s the same with writers who self-publish. Literally anyone can do it, including a seven-year-old I know who is a “published” author because her teacher got the entire class to write stories and publish them on Amazon. It’s cute, but when adults do it, maybe not so cute. With the firestorm of self-published books unleashed on the world, I fear that writing itself is becoming devalued.”

I’m a tuneless clod too. I sympathise.

But it doesn’t validate you as a musician, ironically for the same reasons you defend traditional publishing. It may be nice to have, but it isn’t developing your career. The thing that does validate your work – singing or writing – is having people pay money for it. Now yes, anyone can publish a book, just as anyone can upload a video of them caterwauling into a mike while performing a silly dance. But the thing that makes the difference between a successful career and a pipe dream is the money.

The great writers are not devalued by indie writers, any more than the Beatles are devalued by some half-drunk idiot trying to sing Penny Lane on karaoke night.

What does devalue traditional publishing is the simple fact that many indie authors are undercutting them. It’s become a competition, all the worse because indie authors sell eBooks cheaply while traditional publishers manage to price themselves out of the market – an unforced error that is costing them sales. And instead of choosing to adapt to the new world, traditional publishers are slamming indie writers.

And the people who are really hurting here are the traditional authors. They’re the ones who cannot go indie, even though they have the reader base to be successful. They are trapped.

“I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally. It makes a great gift for their grandchildren. But self-publishing needs to be labelled as such. The only similarity between published and self-published books is they each have words on pages inside a cover. The similarities end there.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that all that matters?

“And every single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly why the person had to resort to self-publishing. These people haven’t taken the decade, or in many cases even six months, to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer. Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.”

Except I did spend six years learning my trade. So did every other successful indie author. You’re tarring every single self-published author with the same brush.

The real difference, now, is that the mistakes are public. And yes, they can haunt writers for the rest of their lives. But really, this is sometimes true of traditionally published authors too.

“Author Brad Thor agrees: “The important role that publishers fill is to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’re a good writer and have a great book you should be able to get a publishing contract.””

This is true, but sometimes the wheat gets thrown out with the chaff.

“Author Sue Grafton said, “To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy and s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. … Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.””

Unfortunately, self-publishing is only a shortcut for getting a book online. It isn’t a shortcut if one actually wants to learn the trade, let alone turn it into a living. (And this quote could easily apply to the author of the article.)

“Writing is hard work, but the act of writing can also be thrilling, enriching your life beyond reason when you know you’re finally nailing a certain feeling with the perfect verb. It might take a long time to find that perfect verb. But that’s how art works. Writing is an art deserving our esteem. It shouldn’t be something that you can take up as a hobby one afternoon and a month later, key in your credit card number to CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing before sitting back waiting for a stack of books to arrive at your door.”

Good luck trying to sell those books.

You know, I agree – the art of writing is thrilling. But you know, it’s thrilling for me despite being a self-published author.

“Let’s all give the written word the respect it deserves.”

I quite agree.

But this – and all of this – really leads back to validation. And from where, we might ask, does that validation come from?

There is, I will freely admit, a cachet to being published by a traditional publisher. To have someone make you an offer, to haggle over terms, to be paid an advance and watch as your book is edited, then bound and finally turned into a stack of paperbacks … that’s not something I would deny anyone. A person with a traditional publishing contract has a vote of confidence – a publisher thinks that writer can write sellable books.

Because it’s all about the money, really.

But there are some absolute howlers published by traditional publishers. One doesn’t even have to go into the agreements about books that tick politically-correct boxes or written by celeb authors (just because they’re famous, they think they can write books) to realise that traditional publishing has problems. The explosion caused by the internet has altered the face of the publishing world beyond repair. Traditional publishers are trying to force a sinking ship back to the surface by force of will alone. Instead, the people they’re really hurting are their authors. There are no shortage of horror stories about authors trapped by ironclad contracts that were written in the days before the internet …

There is something unmistakably elitist about the traditional publishing world. And yes, going by the tiny numbers of people who have earned contracts, it is an elite. And the one thing elitists hate is the unclean commoners forcing their way into their world. The idea of self-publishers, publishers who hadn’t paid their dues, becoming successful doesn’t sit well with them. The self-publishers have a status that many in the elite do not share, even though they are traditionally published. And this has played neatly into the hands of those who want to force the genie back in the bottle.

Self-publishing isn’t perfect. But to argue that we self-publishers don’t give the written word any respect is absurd. And there are so many misconceptions in this article that, in the end, it is laughably out of date.

I’ll let Heinlein (Life-Line) have the last word:

“There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.”


35 Responses to “An Insult to Self-Publishing”

  1. Adam Maas December 30, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    It’s worth noting that Atwood, although a famous author, is also a notoriously caustic individual, she’s pretty much the Harlan Ellison of ‘I don’t write SF’ literature.

    She’s also pretty much famous for a single book written 40 years ago, although her newer stuff tends to sell OK when it comes out

    • Mark Delagasse January 1, 2017 at 7:41 pm #

      Mr. Ellison was indeed a bitter writer. He was so frustrated with what was done to one of his books that became the basis for a SciFi movie (in Great Britain) that he demanded his name be removed from the credits of the film. However, it did nothing to his reputation as an author. That was, an still is, a matter totally under the control of the audience.

  2. georgephillies December 30, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

    “This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have.”

    I forced myself to read this year’s Hugo winner. Amusingly, given the furor over the Sad Puppies, the Rabid puppies and the asterisks, the Hgo winner is a milSF/superhero novel…though I will only defend the word “novel’ on the grounds of its word count. I have also read many of Chris’s novels. Based on these data points ‘this system’ is working backwards. Chris’s novels are much better than the Hugo winner.

  3. David K Matthewson December 30, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

    The Atwood ‘quote’ is not actually by her – it’s from a piece she wrote in 1980 (?) see: – where she talks about writing. Worth a look.

    Chris – as you say, The HP rejections story really says it all. Publishers are not gods…


  4. MishaBurnett December 30, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    This is nothing new. Theater actors said it about television actors. Writers of hardcover fiction said it about paperback and pulp writers. Producers of A-list motion pictures said it about producers of drive-in films, cable TV features, and direct-to-video features. You heard this from recording artists moaning that CD duplication technology and streaming audio let just anybody start a record label.

    Heck, in ten years we’ll probably be hearing the Old Guard crying about peer-to-peer bluetooth file transfer or something similar. “In my day you had to format an e-book and upload to Amazon….”

  5. Ken Hagler December 30, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

    As it happens, self-publishing _is_ effectively labelled as such. All you have to do is check the price of the Kindle edition–if it’s the same or higher as the paperback edition it’s traditionally published, and if it has a sensible price it’s self-published.

  6. bretwallach December 30, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

    Chrishanger wrote: “The thing that does validate your work – singing or writing – is having people pay money for it.

    I disagree. I would agree if you substituted “A thing” for “The thing,” but really, enjoyment or getting something out of the work is what validates it. For example, if you gave all of your books away for free, would they suddenly be less good? Less “valid”? I think not.

    • FarWalker December 30, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

      I get your point but there would not be a second or third book if you did not make enough off of your previous work. Day jobs don’t leave you much time to write and write well.

      • bretwallach December 30, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

        Since Chris wrote, “Between 2005 and 2012, I wrote around thirty manuscripts … My first real success came in 2012” I’d say that at least some people can write at least 30 books without making significant money so apparently the “day job” thing isn’t necessarily applicable. Either Chris didn’t have a day job those years and didn’t need one (like retirees and trust fund kids) or he did have a day job and he cranked out books anyway.

        I think it’s a major mistake to think that money is the main force behind human creativity. I’d be surprised if it is even in the fiction world, but in the music world that I’m familiar with, it’s only one motivator and the creators who focus on money I don’t tend to enjoy all that much.

      • chrishanger January 3, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

        I did. I wrote in the evenings.


      • chrishanger January 3, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

        That is unfortunately true.


  7. Romain December 30, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and all. Art is made to be EXPERIENCED. I hate those gatekeepers because THEY choose what I must experience and not ME. But it’s MY experience as an audience that has value to ME. And authors, singers, painters, dancers, actors… all those artists are the CREATORS of those experiences. Once, the gatekeepers were not KEEPERS, but PROVIDERS. Not anymore. And I feel very sorry for those trapped authors and their art.

  8. Conrad Bassett Jr. December 31, 2016 at 12:06 am #


    Here’s my take on here is my take on this. There’s a difference between being a good writer and a good storyteller . You happen to be both . While I don’t like your politics, I find that you’re storytelling is very good. There are some people that are great storytellers but never got the break to be able to publish the stories . This is why self-publishing tends to work . I think the system has bugs in it but as far as anything else we have is the best system there is . When you have to rely on people who are publishers there tends to be a problem as with all institutions, that whether you get published is based on popularity and connections. Many don’t network well enough to get published, so self publishing is a Godsend. I am very happy to see good authors, with good stories that would otherwise go unread.

  9. bexwhitt December 31, 2016 at 12:19 am #

    The main thing I would recommend anyone who wants’s to self-publish is an editor, as this is probably out of the reach of most aspiring authors at least, get some sympathetic and hopefully constructive people to read your work then point out the bits that don’t work. Writing in a (figurative) vacuum and you will miss possibly miss the plot fails a new set of eyes will see.
    Chris is a very quick writer and remarkably his work very enjoyable and plot fail free but as he says it took him a good while to get there.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard December 31, 2016 at 12:37 am #

      I regularly visit sites where “self-publishers” visit, talk and share advice.

      Two things come up regularly.

      One is “beta readers”. These are people that the writer can trust to give them good feedback on their work.

      The second is “copy proofers” (may have the term wrong). These are people who help find the “typos”, misused words, etc that writers, no matter how good, often miss in their own work.

      There are other aspects where “self-publishers” need help & advice but the two above are very important.

      Oh, and I’m one of the people who can “remember when” Chris was just posting stories and “begging” for feedback.

      I may have some copies of his work that he might want to forget. [Kidding Grin]

  10. rd726rd December 31, 2016 at 3:26 am #

    I have read some utterly horrible trash posing as literature on Amazon. That said, I have also read some equally horrible trash from traditional sources (hardcover & paperback). Case in point, how many of you have seen the books for sale at the dollar store?

  11. Christina M. Camp December 31, 2016 at 4:35 am #

    The fact is, I read more self-publish books than professionally edited books. I like that there is a lot of new voices from all the new authors that I can pick and choose from. Oftentimes the books that get professionally published are the same old storytelling, characters, etc with different names.

    This author is completely out-of-touch with modern readers.

  12. dan December 31, 2016 at 4:49 am #

    I agree with almost everything Chris wrote, and I would point out that the reader and the reader’s enjoyment of the story is the entire point of fiction writing. It seems these vitrolic “house elves” as I believe they are called often lose sight of that. As a reader, I spend far more money per year and read a lot more “self published” books than I do the “big time” published authors. If I were to make a list of my top 20 authors -authors that I preorder from and pay any price for their next novel, the same folks whose blogs I follow or status updates I eagerly await – only three of them are entirely “house” authors. The others are either indies or have self published in the past. I do occasionally get burned by a poorly done book or idiotic story, but that happens with the published books as well (Twilight, anyone?). I am a lot less upset and a lot more forgiving when a $0.99 book is not great than when a $12.99 book is crap.

    I especially love how the “house elves” are complaining that the indies are somehow devaluing their work or literature in general. Welcome to the freemarkets, you precious snowflakes.

    • FarWalker December 31, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

      Well said. I also spend more on self published authors for the same reasons. there are some I delete right away but it’s wonderful when you find a gem like Christopher’s SIM series.

      • Kurto January 3, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

        This is the part i love about self publishing, the search for a new gem.
        There are some authors who wouldn’t have been published traditionally because the idea/script/story doesn’t fit with the mainstream, but some of those are fantastic.

        The price of these ebook allow me to try so many of them and to be more lenient on the book itself. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer a book with no spelling mistakes and no plot holes, but I also love to give a chance to someone and something new.

        For me its like listening to street musicians, most of them are good and some of them are amazing. i can appreciate them as much as my favourite band’s CDs.

        Lastly, I found that successful self published authors are better storyteller, as someone mentioned in the comments, and that comes from the selection process: the comments from the readers, not some ivory tower critics.

  13. Chris K. December 31, 2016 at 5:31 am #

    I’m at the point where I don’t know if I even want to read traditionally published books anymore. Yes, they are in generally better quality but the problem I have is the quantity. I read for enjoyment, so really all the perfectly formed paragraphs of prose and flowery description is lost on me as when I’m skimming the boring parts. Then add on the average 2 year+ wait for most authors, which even the best sellers have (as later novels are split by spinoffs or other series- which I don’t want until main series is complete) and I’m not even interested in waiting 20+ years for a complete series. I’d much rather have an entertaining novel in a few months that while slightly lower quality or length comes a few times a year. The insult to me is the way traditional authors expect you to put up with having every book be the start of a 20 year ordeal to complete the full story of the series. Since just like movies they have moved to the series model for everything and never stand alone novels to make money.

  14. Wolfcry December 31, 2016 at 6:37 am #

    People still read Huff Po? Shocking.

    Obviously the woman who wrote that article has been happy with her publishing agreements. Readers can decide for themselves what they do and don’t like.

  15. Andrew Jones December 31, 2016 at 7:48 am #

    Preventing people from publishing their own work is just preemptive book burning.

    • Jack Hudler December 31, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

      I agree, though it’s funny you should get that from an apparent liberal.

  16. Hans Ruopp December 31, 2016 at 10:28 am #

    Happy New Year to all of you!

    I should say that I agree with most of what has been said here and I would like to add my two cents.

    What I can detect in Laurie’s article is that she’s jealous, and maybe even worse, she’s incompetent enough to find good people to review her writing, making her need publishers to do the job. (just maybe)

    This kind of critics always comes from frustrated people, and it looks like she’s one of them.

    Like newspapers and other mainstream medias, publishers are going to desappear if they don’t change radically their ways.

    In a few or more years paper will disappear and nobody has control of information anymore. While this is true with indie authors, this is also true with newspapers, TV news, governments etc.

    The mainstream media can’t manipulate the people anymore, if a reporter lies, the truth comes to bite him/her a little later by someone that witnessed the event and has proof.

    Publishers can’t say anymore that only a few authors are good because they have vetted their work. WE can do it now by ourselves. We can decide what’s good or not for us.

    All that being said, now I think I know from where commes all Laurie Gough frustration: She lost her power to infuence people on her writing subject.

    Why the hell will I buy a travel book when I can find a lot more information and tips over the internet with experience sharing whitin thousands of sites. When these tips are much more valuable than anything she can say.

    I’m Swiss, living in Switzerland, we love to travel and we do it quite often. Many of us like to share our experiences of our trips and do so publishing it in blogs. Even Swiss citizens living in France or Germany likes to write blogs talking about countries differences, culture differences, tips on what you should avoid, etc. All that being neighbor countries with a lot of history in common.

    All of this puts a stop on books like Laurie writes. We get first hand tips from people that are actually there. I have lived abroad for a long time. I can give tips on many countries in south and north america continents. The USA was the most challengingcountry I visited, having spent more than 40 days crossing the country by train from NYC to SFO via Columbia (SC), Atlanta (GA), New Orleans (LA), Houston and San Antonio (TX), Los Angeles and SanFrancisco (CA) to name a few cities. All of this meeting new people visiting and staying with friends from those states. Now tell me: If I decide to write a blog with all the tips these local folks gave me about their cities and states how can Laurie Gough do better with her books? She can’t and that’s what frustrates her. Her attack on indie writers is just because she’s finished as a Travel books writer.

    Well this is just my 2 cents about the subject.

  17. Steve December 31, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    Firstly I must admit that I make a lot of my living from self-publishing (I run a ebook conversion company) so perhaps I could be classed as biased. But I am also an avid reader and I have found that the explosion of self-publishing has led me to new authors I would never have read before. I find that the price of self-published books lets me try new authors all of the time some I stick with (like Chris) others I drop. Admittedly there is a lot of dross out there but then that could also be said of the traditional publishing industry. I think that most readers learn to be discriminating pretty quickly and learn to read reviews in fact this, in my opinion, is a better option than traditional publishing. By listening to lots other people who have actually read the book I think you tend to get a decent overview of what the standard of the book is. Many reviewers are more than happy to point out when there are spelling, grammatical or plot problems.
    I think the traditional publishers are most upset about the prices of self-published books and are finding it hard to adapt – especially the big publishers. They need to alter their whole paradigm – They now have access to the world via the internet but I am not sure they know how to actually take advantage of that. The Music industry went through similar problems and yet they seem to have found a way to adapt – the book industry could learn from that. I believe there is room for both the publishers and the self-publisher but unless the traditional publishers try to learn from the internet instead of fighting change (their battles over pricing with Amazon are one example) I fear for their future.

  18. Hans Ruopp December 31, 2016 at 11:43 am #

    Definetly Laurie Gough is a frustrated woman.

    After writing my comment I went to check the comments on the Huff Po article and I should say that Laurie has lost a great opportunity to do a favor to herself by shutting her big mouth.

    People are not saving words to let her know how little, frustrated, and jealous she is.

    Just an exmple of what you’ll find there:

    Raine Miller ·
    San Diego State University

    Is it an insult to the written word when your first self-published book makes the NYT, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal? Or when that same self-published book attracts a top NY agent who then secures a seven-figure advance for you from a big five publisher in a major deal? I don’t think so. None of those things would have happened for me if I hadn’t self-published that first book. People wouldn’t read and buy self-published books if they weren’t any good. Where are you getting your information from?

    Will Viharo ·
    Writer at Freelance Writer

    If you think the “gatekeepers” are there to preserve the integrity of modern literature, you are either willfully gullible or just another paid spokesperson desperately trying to preserve the antiquated status quo. Self-publishing continues to thrive not just due to its cheap accessibility, but primarily because the establishment routinely rejects anything experimental, transgressive, or otherwise “risky” as a marketable product, and a growing portion of the target audience is weary of being spoon fed the same old contrived, cloned, pre-fab, over-priced packages of “safe,” derivative, movie-ready, mainstream-pandering cash-grabs. The major publishers have proven time and again over many years they are not interested in art for art’s sake. The only option for authors that wish to produce and share work that is honest and true to their own visions is to publish it themselves. The traditional gatekeepers are just upset they’re being creatively circumvented, and their exclusive club is not only losing membership, but prestige and power. Sure, self-publishing is rife with amateurs, but a lot of so-called “acceptable” books are also plauged with bad writing and sloppy editing – but since they’ve been “officially” vetted for mass appeal if not literary quality, they are deemed superior to the more sincere work of independents. This crass commercialism is the true threat to the written word. The ultimate arbiters of literature going forward will be the only gatekeepers that truly matter: the readers. If a self-published book is filled with typos, unrealistic characters and ridiculous plot twists, it will fail. If not, it will succeed. That’s how it should be. The only insult here is to the intelligence of the discriminating consumer.

    E.B. Brown
    Author at E.B. Brown

    Good luck to you. I’ll just sit here in my panties putting out books readers want to read. No worries. I’m good. So are my readers. Good luck to you

    Have fun reading the comments.

    • Jack Hudler December 31, 2016 at 11:20 pm #

      I don’t read E.B. Brown’s books, however I’m tempted after that imagery,

  19. Anarchymedes December 31, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    ‘If I had to [insert a degrading, mind-bogling, stupid, and/or humiliating activity to fill the blank], then so shall you, little punk!’ This is the underlying psychology and motivation behind ‘traditional’ authors disparaging the self-publishing ones. It’s not dissimilar to GenX-ers (like me) resenting the tech-savvy Millennials and their sense of self-worth and entitlement. ‘If I could slave away ridiculous hours and park my boss’ car when he snapped his fingers, then so can you – and don’t you wave your iPad at me!’ Envy and jealousy are not becoming, I must say – because that’s all there is to it.

    • Hans Ruopp December 31, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

      Not really Anarchymedes. There are “traditional authors” that disagree with Laurie’s point of view. Sue Grafton being one of them. And according to her (on her FB page –, she made this mistake in 2012 and has written an apology for what she said. Not all “traditional authors” are as frustrated as Laurie Gough.

      • Anarchymedes January 1, 2017 at 5:29 am #

        I never meant to say that all “traditional” authors think that way: sorry if it sounded like I did. I merely wanted to outline the likely motivation of those who do.

  20. Jack Hudler December 31, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

    The fact she uses the analogy of publishing music on a CD, tells you how out of date she her view of publishing is.

  21. Bruce Johnson January 2, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

    The author of the original article is a moron who did nothing but publicly whine prob. because her book didn’t sell. Well if she put forth the same effort she did here I would not imagine that it would sell.

    I don’t read non-self-published books any more too expensive, On top of the money if its a series you get a yr or more to find out how the cliffhanger turned out where as with Indie’s its more like a month or 2 at most. And to top it all off most Indie’s don’t use cliffhangers because they know it pisses us readers off and they can’t afford to do that. They know that good writing is what brings a reader back. Not annoying the hell out of us. But the publishing houses don’t get that.

    So we have same quality of books from indie’s for less $ and most don’t leave you pissed that you read book 1 before book 12 the final book was written. Why would anyone read a publishing house book is beyond me. Look at the Harry Potter mess I’m Still pissed about the $15 she STOLE from me.

  22. Frank Hemingway January 11, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

    If the brain surgeon ever writes a book, I hope it will be as good as “Gut” by Dr Enders. Seriouly.

  23. Carolyn Day July 17, 2017 at 5:22 am #

    I have read all of the above (laughing) and as a non-writer of gen “I don’t know ?” I still buy the odd hardcover or paperback if I have a set, or for my partner, who is technologically challenged. They are very costly compared to e-books, but that is life.

    I have to tell of a conundrum. We are in the process of cleaning out our abode with the view of a slight upgrade. That means that our few hundred books have to be sorted into 3 stacks: Keep, Flog and Tip. At this stage the percentage is at about 30:10:60. Taking 60% to the tip feels awful! An upside for me is the 200 or so e-books I have are in a neat little unit and wont be affected by the renovation. As a readaholic, I would suffer greatly if there were no self-published authors, most of which I would never have heard of. Chis is right. Customer reviews influence a lot of my purchases.

    The conundrum is intellectual. Locally, we hear that supermarkets are going to ban plastic bags; the scourge of our waterways. (and the tip of the iceberg). I do wonder if the sale of newspaper will have a resurgence when this occurs?

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