Self-publishing gurus and cheerleaders (and the vanity publishers who follow them like remoras, hoping to pick up disillusioned or naive self-pub authors) have long played off commercial publishing’s scorn to advance their own causes. And they’ve been right. In the past, commercial publishers and commercial authors have sneered at their self-published peers.
What many self-pub champions either don’t know – or don’t want to say – is that the industry they love to vilify largely died off or changed half a decade ago.
–Crane Hana on self-publishing strawmen.
What Hana’s talking about here is the notion that tradpub somehow has it in for self-publishing, purely because it’s self-publishing.
What is true is that there’s a fair bit of tongue-clucking and head-shaking in tradpub over selfpub, mainly as lamentations over potentially decent manuscripts “lost” in self-publishing limbo. Selfpub a book that doesn’t make you an overnight superstar and good luck getting a traditional publisher to pick it up and try again.1
But, mostly, selfpub is tradpub’s farm team. Self-publishing advocates can get huffy about this comparison, but the fact that they don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not how the Big Girls in New York think about them. For the lucky 1% (0.0000001%) that do become selfpub bestsellers, they’ll barely be able to open their doors in the morning for all the editors piled up behind brandishing seven-figure contracts which, more importantly, feature the sorts of rights exclusions and other custom clauses midlister tradpub authors would kill for.
It’s a different world for the 1% in authorland, same as it is everywhere.
Oop. Scratch that last. Looks like the self-to-trad pub ship might be already sailing…
- Note: this isn’t impossible and I’d be open to arguments that it might get easier over the next few years. But, right now, this switch is hella difficult. [↩]