Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Self-Publishing and the Death of Traditional Publishing: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.

Slowly, I'm being led down a path that will end--Jove help me--to self-publishing my work.

Yeah, you all know what I think of that. I have never been a fan of it and I think that all things considered, the ebook and self-publishing development has been the worst thing that has happened to literature since...well, since ever.

But, I find that traditional markets are vanishing at a faster pace than in the past. Yes, TV helped kill off the pulps beginning in the 1950s. Video games almost strangled the comics industry in the late 1990s. And here the ebook/self-publishing market has a fatal choke-hold on traditional publishing.

One self-publisher who has done well at the game is really celebrating the apparent death of
the old retail model. I generally avoid his constant blabbering, but the last time I checked what he had to say he was gloating over the idea that Barnes & Noble Booksellers might soon go bankrupt and out of business. Why he thinks this is a good thing is beyond my ability to compute. I mean, yes, he was a failed writer in traditional publishing, but I can't see where that would make you happy to see the end of bookstores.

But, there it is.

The markets for submission of fiction has shrunk to pathetic levels. The few large publishers who have so far survived don't have much in the way of budgets for acquisitions. To me, it looks as if the end is looming for traditional publishing, as much as I hate to admit it.

I have some things to say about traditional publishing that I will withhold for the time being. I'm
reserving some material for a later blog when things that I think are going to happen either don't
come to pass, or after the dust has settled.

The bad thing is, I find myself having to look at self-publishing as a more and more attractive alternative to flailing around trying to find markets that are drying up, that are choking to death, that are nearing the point of extinction.

Yes, there are the micro-publishers. But why bother? If the paying markets are all dead, why give away a piece of the action for no good reason and for no possibility of a decent advance?

Self-publishing, I thought you were indeed a dark and horrible creature.

But now that I'm getting desperate...maybe you're really a gorgeous doll.


Lawrence Roy Aiken said...

"Self-publishing, I thought you were indeed a dark and horrible creature.

"But now that I'm getting desperate...maybe you're really a gorgeous doll."

It is neither. It is what it is. If Severed hadn't picked up BLEEDING KANSAS I would have self-pubbed. Hell, it was my plan -- you saved me from that, and I thank you. I'd rather have a publisher behind me, and the thought of a real, dead-tree book in my hands with my name in big letters on the front delights me no end.

But the big publishers, like the big bookstores, did it to themselves. They gave zillion dollar advances to celebrities for their piece-of-shit nothing books (I still wonder how much Snooki got paid for her "novel"), and the acquisitions people looked towards richie assholes from richie programs (e.g., Iowa Writers, Pikes Peak Writers) for novels about middle-aged rich people suffering their mid-life "crises" ("Alas, for I have fallen in love with one of my Ivy League college students! Pity me, while you sweat the brake job on your ten year old car, peasant!") for books even fellow richies can't bring themselves to pretend to like.

On top of that we have a culture which promotes and celebrates anti-intellectualism so much that even being see reading a zombie novel (or any other adventure/escapism) makes you something of an egghead, and therefore Not Exactly Cool.

Shit, I reckon I should write my own blog post about this. In case I don't, let it be said for the record that the two Barnes & Nobles in Colorado Springs are staffed by some of the most comically rude assholes I've met in any establishment and I refuse to patronize them -- I could forgive the right-wing leanings of the owners if it wasn't so painfully obvious everyone working in both locations clearly hate their jobs and the customers they deal with. And I mourn the fuck out of Borders. Two years down the line I miss going in and getting that heady whiff of book paper and coffee.

Mark Rainey said...

Yeah, drink enough first, and it'll be a beauteous book release. :/

James Robert Smith said...

Roy: Yes, I don't like the idea of it, at all. Just look at my previous posts about it. I keep hoping the fad will burn itself out like a serious illness. Who knows?

There is this bit of good news: Create a website

My gut feeling is that it's best to have a publisher behind you--even a small one who has built up a certain reputation. But sometimes the work doesn't match the publisher's rep.

I, too, mourn the passing of BORDERS. One of the most depressing things I ever witnessed was walking into the stores when they were selling out their stocks. I was so horrified that I couldn't even bring myself to buy anything.

The Barnes & Noble stores here aren't bad. Their clerks are nice enough. The bad thing about Charlotte is that there are only a couple of decent independent bookstores. They have nice staff, but I worry for their futures, of course.

James Robert Smith said...

Mark: I don't know if I could ever drink that heavily.

MarkGelbart said...

I have to disagree with Roy's putdown of celebrity books.

Most of those books are written by very talented ghost writers. They are real professionals. I think they are some of the best writers in the publishing business.

Case in point is Ozzie Osbourne's autobiography. Ozzie Osbourne is practically illiterate because he has a learning disability. Moreover, it's hard to understand him when he talks. Yet, his autobiography is outstanding thanks to an excellent ghost writer who was able to turn Ozzie's confused garble into a great book that captures the man's personality.

James Robert Smith said...

For most people who buy those celebrity books it's more a matter of an item of merchandise. They don't read them--they put them away the same way they would a pinup or a lunchbox or an autographed photo. It's a "thing" they can own, and not something that they'd actually read.

But, yeah, I see what you mean. People probably actually wanted to read what Ozzy had to say.