Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Self-Publishing Scam

In the old days self-publishing was an appropriately difficult proposition. There was, of course, no shortage of awful writers ready and willing to self-publish their equally awful work. But distributing the crap was a problem.

Enter epublishing, (monopoly-in-training), and suddenly self-publishing becomes as easy as wiping one's ass. Unfortunately, the results are about the same. Both need to be flushed, but only one finds that fate.

Writers can fool themselves into thinking they're fighting the good fight by circumventing the traditional methods of publication. But by and large the reason for self-publishing is simple: their work is so bad that no one other than themselves would seek to put that crap into the light of print.

I hope to see it end. Diminishing sales and slowing monetary returns are the only things that will eventually shut down this flood of idiots. They can give away as many Kindles as they please. They can tweet and post on Facebook to their heart's content. But the fact is that their work is terrible stuff and the reason they self-publish is because the work doesn't deserve to be published.

I've compared the tidal wave of fecal fiction now flooding the markets to the crap that hit comic book sales when suddenly people with no talent to write or illustrate discovered that it was relatively simple to self-publish their horrid little comic books. For a while, a lot of those people made out like bandits. But, eventually, the party ended. Today, there are still self-published comic books, but it's no longer a fad and there are not stacks of the crap on the stands at comic shops gathering deserved dust. And those no-talents went back to their jobs at Kwik-E-Mart.

Your self-published novels suck. Yeah, you can get your mommy and daddy and siblings and cabal of self-published circle jerks to leave you five-star reviews. You can get your pals and co-workers to pump up the sales and fool the public for a while. But in the end your work is shit and no one likes to smell shit.

Do us all a favor and stop smearing it around.

"My self-published pals will do anything I tell them to do."


ChrisW said...

Check out "Blood Song" by Anthony Ryan. You might need to eat some humble pie. I reviewed it at You can also read a better written review over at Fantasy Book Critc. Not to mention it just got picked up by AceRoc.

You are correct 99.9999% of the time though.

HemlockMan said...

" just got picked up by AceRoc."

That's what I'm talkin' about.

Richard Evans said...

Go read Seth Godin's blog. The publishing industry is finished. Learn something so that the next time you talk, you actually have a clue what you are talking about.

HemlockMan said...

He must be a self-publisher. No, thanks. I read quite enough self-published shit. I'm not going to listen to any more arguments by self-published writers screeching about why their self-published shit doesn't stink.

Chris Barnes said...

Your blog is self published. Ergo.....

HemlockMan said...

I already covered that here.

E.B. Black said...

What about Ruth Cardello who just got an agent after self-publishing her books or Amanda Hocking who made millions off of self-publishing? They are excellent writers that I am huge fans of. Sure, there's bad stuff out there, but not all of it's bad.

Also, if you have ever actually self-published anything, you'd know just how hard it is. In fact, if it was easy, since it's such a fad, you should get out a book tomorrow, so you can ride the wave and earn a bit of money before the "fad" dies.

HemlockMan said...

Just as with every scam, there are a few at the top who do well.

And if it's so great, why do fans of the scam rave when the few good (or popular) manuscripts end up with major publishers? If it's better than going the traditional route, why not stick with it?

Answer: it's not so great.

My problem is not that it produces no good material at all, it's that it produces SO MUCH SHIT! And don't try to tell me that traditional publishing produces just as much crap. The stuff that is self-published is so overwhelmingly bad that there is no way I'd look at it again. If a self-published book ends up at a major publisher, then MAYBE I'll give it a look. Maybe.

As I've stated here before in previous essays about self-publishing, I did try it once. Worst mistake I ever made in my writing career. Self-publishing was always a sucker's game, and it still is. I was a sucker, but came to my senses.

E.B. Black said...

I just don't get why you are so angry about it.

I absolutely agree that there are many more bad self-published books than there are bad traditionally published books, but there are enough good self-published books out there that I enjoy reading them. It doesn't take much searching to find good ones. I know of a few authors who don't have a contract with an agent or a publishing house who I think write excellent books. The reason I don't list them is that you wouldn't take my word that they're any good. Because what does my word mean, really? And you've already said that their five star reviews are probably all fabricated.

A lot of self-published authors offer one or two of their books for free. And most, at the very least offer at least one book for only ninety nine cents. Because of it, I'm not really wasting a lot of money trying them out. I like that they're affordable.

I guess what my problem is, is that I don't get why you're angry here and why you wish such bad things on authors who worked really hard on their craft.

I like self-publishing because it allows freedom of speech. There is no longer someone filtering what we are allowed and not allowed to read.

I've never looked at another author, even ones not published at all, and wished bad things on them or thought they were inferior to me. So I just don't get why you do.

HemlockMan said...

We have a difference of opinion. You'll just have to live with it.

The self-publishing scam has resulted in the greatest decline in the quality of prose in the history of the language. That's why I dislike it so. The ability to promote effectively has trumped quality. The whole scene disgusts me no end.

Authors giving away their work. What the hell??! You think that's a good thing? Gone is any chance at all of making a living at their art.

Even pulp fiction has suffered tremendously. I like good pulp fiction. I thrive on reading it. It's effectively been crushed because the publishers of quality pulp fiction are suffering. I'm supposed to wade through mountains of trash to find a good novel? That's what first readers and editors (all paid) did for me in earlier days.

The self-publishing fad will fade away at some point, I am hoping. If not...well, literature had a good run in the western world. It could be just going through a painful and disgusting death.