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Stop with the Negativity!

You wouldn’t advertise a fragrance by saying “it doesn’t smell of poo” so why does everyone who sets out to praise self-publishing do so by telling us how rubbish traditional publishing is? Here are some of the things I hear again and again:

  • Publishers only care about profits.
  • Publishers only want safe, boring books.
  • There are just as many errors in traditionally published books.
  • Publishers don’t add anything to the finished product.
  • Publishers just don’t like progress.
  • Publishers don’t care about their authors.
  • Publishers are selfish.
  • Publishers are evil gatekeepers intent on keeping great books out.

I’m not going to go on about how I disagree with all these points, but it only reinforces reluctance from readers loyal to the establishment. And that’s most of us. I don’t know a lot of people outside of the blogging world that read much self-published work. Publishers woo us, self-publishers act like the social outcast that pretends they don’t want to be in the in-crowd.

Not only that, but they’re being incredibly rude about fellow authors that have signed a deal. Would you say to their faces that their work is boring or riddled with errors? I expect they don’t even know one person who works in publishing. Everyone I have interacted with has been lovely, passionate about books and would be horrified if the above defined them.

Perhaps revolutionaries don’t have to be nice, but this is not a time of war. Take a breath and think about the positive aspects of self-publishing. There is a perception issue here and self-published authors need to do a lot of work to get past that. Make your books exciting and innovative; make them look beautiful, get professional help (the kind that supposedly isn’t adding anything to traditionally published books). Get out there and make your book the best it can be and forget about the politics. Readers don’t want to know about the chip on your shoulder, they want to know about your BOOK!

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  1. Celine

    Seconded. I love publishers and the books they publish, and the negative attitude of self-published authors only make me very reluctant to read any of their work

  2. Birgit

    It's a shame, really, how many think in these stereotypes. I realize many have ended up as self-published authors, because they didn't find a publisher for their work, BUT there can be a million reason's why the traditional route didn't work for that author's book and it certainly doesn't mean that big publishing houses are the Darth Vader's of the publishing industry. I believe self-publishing is a great possibility these days whether it's by choice or due to not finding the right publisher for you. And, let's face it – you can find awesome books as well as horrible ones in both cases!

  3. Anonymous

    So very well said!

  4. Anonymous

    I love this post. Self-publishing can be a way of seeing your work (either good or bad) out in the world, but that does not make other people's work, published by traditional publishing houses, less valid.

    Well said.

  5. Anonymous

    Well said, Ellie. Of COURSE publishers care about books and the people writing them and the people reading them; that's why they do what they do. And I'm certain those publishing books themselves are passionate about the same things in the same way. And I'm sure that being a self published author is really bloody difficult, and I think that maybe that's the point – it's difficult for us too, and it probably should be. It's serious business, writing books, and I've an awful lot of respect for anyone who manages it. But there's no need for any bad feeling or sniping. If you've published something yourself, I wish you well (as long as you don't think it should be easy and you've done all the work required – there's always far more to having a book out there than simply writing one!), and if you're published in the traditional way, I wish you well too.

  6. emaginette

    I don't think anyone has to go through the traditional publishing route, but then again, we can still learn from success. Instead of putting them down, I suggest learning from their example.

    They are very picky for a reason. Could they think that pleasing a reader will sell more books?

    1. Ellie

      I personally think it's odd that writers wouldn't want a professional team helping them with their book. Yes self-publishing can work but only if it's done properly and with respect for the consumer and their expectations. Blaming "the other side" is not a basis for a business model.

  7. Vicky @ A Backpack Full of Adventures

    I second what Celine said. Exactly.

  8. So many books, so little time

    Love it Ellie <3 – I recently had a rant (albeit about reviewers getting bullied/abuse). I stated then I don't think anyone should be getting abuse but there are so many divides and so much aggression going on!


  9. Nikki

    Hi, Ellie! I'm new to your blog but I had to comment because I do love the way you think and this is a great topic to discuss. I'm sure a lot of self-published authors have a chip on their shoulders because they're just jealous and/or bitter about their inability to get published the traditional way. Blame is the easiest outlet for them. See, it's all a matter of perspective.

    Yes, there are good and bad books out there that have been published both ways and that's to be expected. It doesn't make one method more or less valid than the other. These self-published authors need to spend less time criticising and more time focusing on their craft—writing.

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