25 May 2012

If You Say "Self-Publishing" Often Enough It Ceases To Have Any Meaning.

It's a brave new world. A world in which a budding author no longer need be beholden to the capricious whims of the big publishers, the tilt-a-whirl merry-go-round of agent and editor. It's a candy land of straight to public offerings where dreams are bought and sold on the e-reader chart of choice.

In fact I can't go anywhere without someone jotting down thoughts about the age of the self-published hack. We're fuddled with figures, battered by banter, prescribed to peruse puff pieces and generally told that this is the new hot topic.

Self-published authors are ruffling feathers, provoking debates, some are earning a living, others would be lucky to see a pittance.

The central issue is always the surprise of the whole world that the quality of some self-published fare is comparable to the more expensive big house offerings. This is always accompanied by the surprise of those "in" the arena of self-publishing at the low quality that some people are willing to lend their names to and the meagre rewards for most would-be writers in both markets.

One thing's for certain, nobody disputes that "quality" sells. Although how quality is to be defined is sometimes moot. One thing's for certain, the editor is certainly a subject for emotional outpouring. Publishing houses are celebrating that they have them, self-publishers lament they have to pay for one, and that they are quite the expense. Not only that, but when you give your precious baby to one of these insensitive clods they have the temerity to return said brain child saying they don't care for the colour of its eyes, or they think its ears stick out too much.

I haven't reviewed the work of a peer in a long time. The more things I see asking for feedback the more I feel myself biting my tongue because it's rare that I see anything past mediocre competence. I have to remind myself that I am possibly no better. Certainly the first few entries in my canon never trouble anyone with more than mediocre competence.

I think what writers have to accept is that it takes a long long time to become any good (10,000 hours, I heard) and too many writers are too akin to those people we laugh at in the X Factor auditions. Just with less laughter and far more painful and poignant heartbreak. Reading some poorly told half-grammatical, incoherent verbal slurry is both tedious and sad. That is why there will never be an X Factor for writers.

However, the spectrum of talent on display if there were would be about the same, in fact, is about the same, in this new market that has democratised the writer's right to make no money from the uncaring masses.

Viva La Revolucion...