Thursday, March 24, 2011

i just walked in on this

Spring break is chugging right along. I am sleeping late and spending many pantsless hours working on various projects. Actually having time to catch up with my own schedule is rather nice.

The always-insightful Roxane Gay posted something about self-publishing, which is obviously of interest to me, over at HTMLGiant. She makes the case that a lot of self-published writers go that route because they dislike the traditional publishing industry and, perhaps as a symptom of their distrust, cannot accept the risk of hearing "no" when they submit their work. There's certainly truth to that, and to her later comment that some writers are more impatient in getting a book out there than they are willing to make sure it's a really good one. It's always weird to see people try and figure out largely self-published authors, though, because they're always discussed like some weird species of butterfly pinned under glass. Where did it come from? What did it eat? etc.

There's often a lot of contempt towards self-published authors for not following the rules (though Roxane doesn't indulge that, which I appreciate), which partly comes from the seeming unwillingness to go through the grind of finding the right publisher, editing, and waiting - like they don't take the reality of being an author seriously enough. They also underprice their work a lot, which is pretty annoying. But I honestly think a lot of self-publishers, excluding some of the thinner-skinned genre fiction types, go that way because they're not aware of the indie press community and think that it's either a contract with Penguin or trudging out into the wilderness alone. Maybe they know that smaller presses exist, but I don't think they can always see the community that nourishes them, which is much closer to most self-publishers' ethics than any of the big houses.

I also think that some of them are borderline-insane control freaks who want total control over the production of their book and enjoy the work of it (this is not totally a bad thing). Indeed, 'zines have become a central element of the Art of the Weird, and there's a lot to be found there that doesn't fit into either mainstream or indie publishing's tastes. A lot of my tolerance of, and enthusiasm for, self-publishing comes from that - the punk rock passion of the amateur that saw an established vetting process for getting creative work out there and completely dodged it. People whose drive to create and share is so intense that they don't bother smoothing over the rough patches first. Sometimes the rough patches are the best part.

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