The Anti-NY Playbook (Bashing Commercial Publishing)

I asked on Twitter a while back why, if e-publishing is so successful, so many self-published e-authors are still promoting themselves by bashing commercial publishing.  Instead of, you know, promoting their writing.

To be clear, I’m not saying that all self-published authors do this.  But there are a number whose public personas spend most of their time going on about how awful commercial publishing is. And I finally figured out why their rhetoric bugs me so much.

It’s because this is the same stuff I’ve been hearing for years … only a decade ago, it was coming almost entirely from scammers and vanity presses.

Take the author who cited Snooki’s book as proof that commercial publishing is imploding.  New York is only interested in celebrity trash!  There’s no room for the truly original, so your best bet is to sign with Publish America e-publish your own work.  (See First Book Friday for a list of non-celebrity authors who sold their books to major publishers in recent years.)

Another e-published author criticized commercial publishing for being too slow.  Why wait two years for your book to come out when Publish America can release it within a week of signing the contract you could self-publish through Amazon and start earning 70% Kindle royalties within 90 days?  (Assuming you don’t care about things like editing, good cover art, pre-publication publicity, and so on.)

But commercial publishers want to rip you off!  Look at these e-published authors who are selling like crazy, getting 70% royalties and making tens of thousands of dollars every month.  It reminds me of the way Paolini used to be “proof” that self-publishing was the way to go.  By the same logic, don’t Rowling and Meyer prove that commercial publishing is the best choice?  Because that way you can become a bajillionaire like them, right?  (Paraphrase: Don’t use outliers to make your arguments.)

Whether it’s the old-school scammers or the new indie author with a grudge, we all know the real enemies are the evil, greedy, clueless editors and agents.  The people who are only in it for the money and wouldn’t know a good story if it hugged their face and planted a book that burst out of their chest a few days later.

The only problem being that this is bullshit.  Most editors love the field, and love discovering new writers and new stories.  The agents love signing new authors and watching their careers take off.  These are jobs that eat up a hell of a lot more than 40 hours a week, and if you’re just in it for the money, then you learn pretty quickly that you chose poorly.

Are there bad editors and agents?  Of course … just like there are lousy [insert any other career here].  What’s your point?

I’m not against e-publishing.  (Heck, I’m about 90% ready to e-publish Goblin Tales.)  I know not all e-published authors are taking this approach to self-promotion and publicity.  But to those who are, well, when so much of your playbook seems to have been swiped from Publish America and their ilk, I hope you’ll understand why I look elsewhere for worthwhile information and conversation.