Due to the emergence of self publishing there has been a rise in people who maintain a series of beliefs which, heretofore, would have been considered untenable. I mean they would have gotten someone laughed out of a junior high English class. These people believe, and foist proof of those malignable beliefs on us at every opportunity, there are no rules. That all writing is valid if the author claims it is. That all petunias are squids if they say so. To those of you who ignore grammar, punctuation, structure, coherent plotting, logical thought, or other silly fads of the past, I have one simple thing to say to you… STOP! Just stop. Stop writing, stop wasting Create Space’s server space, stop wasting our time. Just come to a full halt and then step to the side. Because I know what’s coming.
I was in the music industry for many years and saw what happened at i-Tunes and CD Baby. When those services went live anyone with a digital recording device and some free time could call themselves a musician. Within five years each company had built in restrictions, and limitations, to weed out the hobbyists. And, let’s be honest, most of the self published stuff is done by people as a hobby. Very few put in the years learning to write, experiencing rejection, or being crucified by their, oh so cruel yet supportive, peers. They just bundle up their Word Doc, or Open Office thing, and hit send.
Self published comics used to have a shot at being distributed by Diamond, the company with the monopoly on U.S. comic book distribution but, thanks to the wealth of “great ideas” matched with poor execution, now face a labyrinth of restrictions and fees. In Diamond’s case, if you don’t have a minimum of $2,500 per release available for promotion, don’t even bother ringing their doorbell.
Before you tell me I’m being a curmudgeon, and hating on you fun loving literary iconoclasts, know that Create Space has already dropped all support services for self published authors. The last marketing article they published is over a year old, the rest are almost three years old and no longer valid, except in the abstract. Within two years they will have enough barriers in place to stem the flood of drivel and then they can begin sifting for gems.
To be clear, Create Space will continue to exist. If you want to publish your book, and buy copies for your friends and family, nothing will stop you. But your path to a wider readership will be greatly narrowed. If you haven’t been already you will be encouraged to join KDP Select, until you have no choice, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. However, this will keep you out of many other markets. This will allow Amazon, and the rest, to develop a self publishing ghetto.
Oh, I know, this doesn’t pertain to you. You are a serious practitioner of your craft. You’ve seen two or three memes and your mom thinks you’re the bee’s knees. Plus, and this is the super really important part, you have a story you never saw in any of those memes.
Since you don’t know me, and probably wouldn’t like me anyway, allow me to crush your silly dreams.
Writing, like neurosurgery, is a craft. You don’t want some wanna-be brain surgeon, who just saw something on YouTube they think they can handle, operating on your loved one. The same, minus the life threatening implications, applies to writing.
It requires years of study and practice. If you think Strunk and White is a rap group, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think On Writing follows On Dancer, On Dasher, et al, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think a subjunctive clause is an alien Santa, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think a dangling participle is something on a stripper’s outfit, you should not pretend to be a writer.
I could go on but, by now, you’re either laughing your ass off or pissed at me. If the former, congrats, you can write. Or, at the very least, read constructively.
You see, what happens is, the flotsam and jetsam of drek clogs up the pathways and prevents readers from being able to find works worthy of their attention. To that end Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others, are tweaking their search engines. As Create Space has less and less influence over the next couple of years you’ll see self published books eased out of rankings, search results, and so on. Publishers, even if they’re just indies, will be given preference, just like they are in the music and comic book industries.
It’s simple economics. When something has a failure rate of nearly ninety-five percent the market adjusts. Vanity presses might seem like a viable resource for some, but they come with their own baggage. Often they buy reviews, inflate social media numbers, and are generally shunned by distributors, both digital and traditional. Worse, they tend to hand out meaningless awards, for a fee, to inflate an author’s ego and confuse the market.
Please note, there are a couple of vanity presses tied to traditional publishing companies. They exist to make money and, if something catches the eye of an editor, present new authors to the parent company when their book released. It’s still going to cost you, but at least they’re honest about what they do and what your chances are. Slim is a word heard often. Also, they don’t flood the market with crap posts and fake links.
Since I can already hear the “They’re out to screw the little guys” chants allow me to rebut them here. No, they’re not. Self published authors screwed themselves. Badly and without lube. The plethora of drivel dumped out each day is whelming, to say the least.
While there are self published authors who release high quality stuff, and generate sales from same, they are the minority. And, good news for them, there are safeguards already in place to ensure they don’t get caught up in the swirling cesspool that will soon drag many into blissful oblivion. Those in the minority already receive email updates from Amazon, et al, explaining the future so I need not go into them here. If you haven’t gotten such a missive, well, I hope you know how to swim.
For the rest they will be required to treat writing like the business it is. Have a plan, a marketing budget, clear sales parameters, and a professional package to present the world. In other words, treat the product of your craft with respect and your potential readers with the esteem they deserve.
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