Ugh. Publishing elitism.
Laurie Gough recently wrote in the Huffington Post:
“To get a book published in the traditional way, and for people to actually respect it and want to read it — you have to go through the gatekeepers of agents, publishers, editors, national and international reviewers. These gatekeepers are assessing whether or not your work is any good. Readers expect books to have passed through all the gates, to be vetted by professionals. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have.”
-Laurie Gough, “Self-Publishing: An Insult To the Written Word.” The Huffington Post. December 29, 2016
I’ll let you read the article yourself but to sum it up, after claiming that she would rather “share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish” she goes on to explain that good writing takes years of rejection, that it is a self-imposed apprenticeship, that only by going through the gatekeepers is good writing achieved.
Ugh. OK, on one hand she is correct. Writing, like any other skill, takes time to develop. The more you work on it, the better you’ll get.
However, let’s not pretend that “the gatekeepers” are really doing anything to actually help you get better at writing. Ninety-nine percent of the time, when you submit a manuscript to an agent or a publisher, you’ll get a form letter stating something to the effect of, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
You won’t get a marked up manuscript showing all the mistakes you made so you can improve.
You won’t get a nice letter saying, “You got moxie, kid. Just do this and this and that and you’re going places!”
You won’t get anyone offering to sit down with you and go over what you need to do to improve.
You’ll get a form rejection letter and that’s only if your submission doesn’t get lost in the zillions of other submissions the agents and publishers receive on a daily basis.
She’s not without a point. If you do get into the traditional publishing system, there will editors, agents and pros that will help you improve yourself.
But that’s if you get into it. And as I’ve always said, giving up on self-publishing in the hopes that a lucrative self-publishing contract is on the horizon is a lot like giving up a kiss from a woman that likes you because maybe, just maybe one day Scarlett Johansson might want to kiss you.
She’s correct about how good writing requires a lot of time and hard work. And if traditional publishing is something you desire, then you should give it a try.
However, who has ten years to wait? And let’s not pretend that they are a bevy of “gatekeepers” waiting in the wings to guide you.
The writing world sucks. If you get into it at a young age, there are a handful of success stories where people hit it big early but for the rest, it’s a long, hard slog uphill where you make crap pay and work crap hours in the hopes that maybe, just maybe one of those gatekeepers will hook you up.
Self-publishing lets you make things happen on your own.
Yes, many people are lousy writers who have no filter or ability to comprehend they are crap writers. They hit the publish button on a pile of crap and then drag down the whole self-publishing industry.
You can’t just whip something out in an afternoon, draw a cover with crayon, then slap it up there and expect to get anywhere.
It just seems like many critics of self-publishing, this author is painting all self-publishers with a broad brush.
And finally, can we just be honest and say that regardless of your personal politics, it would be fun to share a cabin with Donald Trump on a Disney cruise? The man would probably buy you drinks and cigars and shit. He’d fill the cabin with hot chicks. It’d be a party every night. Order whatever you want and the bill is on him. He’d bring the family and Melania would wear a different supermodel outfit everyday and Ivanka would give you free fashion advice. He’d write wacky tweets about Mickey Mouse. You would surely walk away from the experience with some interesting stories to tell.
What say you, 3.5 readers?