Death Throes of a Dream

(also posted on Createspace LJ community)

In case you guys haven’t heard, Harlequin has created an assisted-self-publishing imprint, to which they will be directing authors to in their rejection letters. The following two links details a conversation between the Mystery Writers of America and Harlequin on the subject of Dellarte press.

Part 1

Part 2
This makes me extremely sad.

Even though I chose to go with a POD for my first book, I still harbor dreams of getting my work published by a “real” publisher. Even I can’t get over the idea that because I POD’ed my book, it’s not really published and I’m not really an author yet. I guess I’ve been brainwashed rather thoroughly by the commercial publishing industry that independently published books are BAD BAD BAD. But part of it too is that I want to be recognized by a source outside of my direct influence – told that what I’m doing with my time and energy and thought processes is actually worthwhile. Self-publishing is like yelling out into a storm. Maybe someone will hear, but what they do about it… Unfortunately, it looks like that’s going to be the only option available fairly soon.

I say this because all the signs and symptoms point to “traditional” publishing going down the tubes. Other publishing houses are going to follow Harlequin’s example once they realize there’s serious money in it and open ASP divisions and direct their rejects and slush pile there. They will then only concentrate on marketing the NEXT Twilight or the NEXT Hairy Potter. They only want the next superstar that will sell millions of books. This means that those authors that only have a few thousand books printed will disappear entirely. Meanwhile the “traditional” publishers will be preying upon the hopes and dreams of people like me who just want some attention – want to be recognized for being a good story teller. And instead they’ll get: “REJECTED – BUT you can still print this book with our ASP division.” yay consolation prize YOU have to pay to receive.

Newspapers and Magazines are already dying out in favor of online options, which are generally free for the public to read. Now, the middle-section of writers who have good books but aren’t getting much marketing attention is dying out due to lack of attention from the publishers. Sure, their books are available in B&N and BAM, but what good is that if no one knows about them? As for me, I’ll pick up a book by an author I’ve not heard about and take a try at it, but I’m not the market, and I’m not the usual reader. Next, it’ll be bookstores as eReaders become popular (though that’s probably going to be a very slow trend, given the price and the price of eBooks currently).

More and more authors are expected to market themselves rather than a publisher doing it for them, as they have in the past. And it will depend on whether Oprah said something about your book as to whether it becomes a superstar and thus worthy of getting money and time from the marketing department. Unless you’ve already got fans, you’re not going to sell any books. So what’s the point of going with a traditional publisher if you’re going to have to do it all yourself anyway?

Additionally, the “traditional” publishers won’t be able to say “Self published books are BAD because they’re crap and they don’t get any editing” because they’ll be the ones printing these books and not editing them. Or, they could say that kind of thing, but it’d be hypocritical of them. Either way, I’ve read at least 15 recently printed books in the last year and ALL of them had missing words, typos, grammatical errors, and other problems that an EDITOR should have caught and fixed, but didn’t.

I suppose in the end, authors are going to have to rethink who and what they are. With the actual business of getting books sold being dumped on us, it’s only a matter of time before “traditional” publishing no longer exists. Nanowrimo has a start on getting authors together and talking, and WeBook is a start at organizing those who would go the direction of ASP, but Nanowrimo doesn’t extend past November, and WeBook is still a business.

In the wake of all these die-offs will sprout a bunch of ASP’s and other self publishing industry peripherals (such as scammer “editing” agencies), and every last one of them will be out to prey on the poor authors who just want to be noticed by the world. And we will get preyed upon because we’re unable to spread the word about such places. Writer Beware is nice, but they’re still geared towards people who are going with “traditional” publishing. If only we (those who choose to self publish or post our work online for free) could change what writing is perceived to be. If we could change it from being something we do by ourselves in a dark corner of our house, hiding from the children like a hermit, we’d be able to unite to keep these publishing companies from taking advantage of us. And an added benefit to joining as a group would be the networking options. “If you build it, they will come” isn’t a real business model. We’re going to have to support each other in order for all of us to become successful. I don’t see it working any other way.

Personally, I’d love to join a writing critique group – and I’ve tried joining some before – but the problem is that writers are what they are and I can read and comment on people’s work all day long and never get anyone to look at mine in return. If I knew that I would get my share of reviews, I’d happily participate. But until then, I’m stuck trying to improve with no feedback (which happens to be a rather difficult task).