Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There’s more than one way to publish words

(Or how to get a bunch of authors hot and bothered)

You know, I didn’t really want to get dragged into this whole debate because, you know what, opinions are like assholes, and everyone’s got one. But yeah, I’m going to let mine hang out now.

What sparked this off was a passing comment by an unpublished author, that small/indie publishers are somehow not real.

Now that I’ve managed to unglue myself from the ceiling and I’m not spitting fire anymore, I want to ask you what makes one form of publishing any less valid than another. Granted, we may not *like* a particular form of publishing but the point remains is that words are still disseminated to readers. Hence, a story is published.

As we say in South Africa: finish en klaar, hey?

Well, yes and no.

What is clear is that the entire publishing industry is in a massive state of flux. When you have big names heading into self-publishing or starting their own publishing companies, then something’s up. Let’s not look at the analogy of rats abandoning a ship but yeah…

Plainly put, the old model of publishing is not sustainable. I’m not saying it’s going to fail. Hell no. It’s just that the big traditional publishers are going to have to seriously relook at the way they’re doing business.

What we’ve also seen is a massive influx of small and indie presses that have grabbed an opportunity with all the new technology coming online. Authors have never had such a wide variety of publishing options available to them and, with the growth in reading gadgets, avid book fanatics are spoilt for choice.

The problem comes in when one discerns quality. With so many authors now getting heard, it’s not always easy telling the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s not to say that the indie-published fantasy adventure that could have used a bit more spit and polish is somehow worth less than the polished traditionally published fantasy novel that may not have such an unusual storyline.

And even that’s a broad generalization. I kinda like my reading rough around the edges where authors have cut loose and experimented a little.

At the end of the day, the reader is the final arbiter, and some books certainly have more appeal to some readers than others. Does it really matter at the end of the day who published the book or how?

With regard to quality, the onus is on the author to ensure that his or her words are as good as they can be. An editor can only make so many suggestions. Obviously traditional publishers carry more clout with their editorial suggestions but it’s still up to the author to decide whether he or she will comply. It’s also up to the author to make sure that their writing evolves and that they don’t repeat the same mistakes over, and over again.

So, how do we wade through the glut of published novels to find the author we like? My answer to this is to follow authors’ and reviewers’ blogs. Follow your favourite publishers and authors on Twitter. Goodreads is also a fantastic place to find new authors to read or to discover which ones aren’t so hot. It’s kinda like an Easter egg hunt, or at least that’s the way I’m looking at it. And I can tell you this much, I’ve discovered some fresh voices that would have been lost to the world had it not been for the shift in the industry.

You may not like the books I read but you know what? That’s okay. Really. I probably won’t like yours either. Just be glad that we now have a greater selection that is almost instantly available in a variety of formats.


Carrie said...

Well said and aptly remarked. I also like my books rough around the edges with experimental words and writing styles.

Wookies Girl said...

Thank you for your voice Nerine. It is an honor to know you.

Nerine Dorman said...

Ah, I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy now... ;-)