Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Traditionally Published Book Doesn't Make it Great

Now onto other topics ... today's topic is what I'm going to call "Traditional Publishing Snobbery" AKA as TPS. I've run into it my entire career and I wanted to refute why it's nothing more than elitist misconceptions driven by old school ideas.
Listening to TPS from unpublished authors who think they know everything is akin to listening to your 12-year-old lecture you about relationships and marriage LOL (yes, my daughter recently shared her "insights" on marriage). Many TPSnobs (not snobbery) hold the ancient reader misconception that traditional publishing act as a gateway to production of "great" literature. If you're not traditionally published then your book must not be any good. This fallacy is just that - a false truth.
Let me explain. Foremost, the top six traditional publishers are businesses, well, actually corporations. What are corporation designed to do? Make money. Traditional publishers like any corporation have to make money to stay in business. Money making is not necessarily conducive to the creation of great literary genius. In fact, what most traditional publishers want to see is a platform (AKA following). When an author brings what in many circles is considered a "sure thing" they are more likely to have their books acquired.
Does any of that sound like it has anything to do with quality? No. So when someone peers down his or her nose at self-published authors and act as though their work isn't legit then these TPSnobs are showing their ignorance. While some of you may have really enjoyed books like 50 Shades of Grey, I have to tell you something: it's not a work of literary genius. In fact that book panders to our most prurient interests vs. high-brow literary attractions. Did it make money? You betcha - lots of cash!
Do you believe any of these celebrity writers are genius literary pros? No? Well, bring a name and a following to the table and traditional publishers will scoop it up. Why? It's a winning, almost risk-free proposition. Like I said, these big corporations have one primary directive, make money. They don't have the leeway, time or resources to gamble on unknowns. Does that mean your book isn't worth anything? It's poorly written? No, it means you're an unknown quantity that a major corporation can't take a gamble on and risk losing thousands of dollars.
In the meantime, self-publishing vehicles do indeed promote an open playing field and the possibility of something new and genius being published. Let me also ask you: do you think that once an author builds aforementioned following a traditional publisher will turn him or her away based on writing ability? The answer is still no. Money is money is money. A sure bet gets published. A genius piece of literary magic without a name or proven track record doesn't get the same opportunity.
The good news is that self-publishing or hybrid publishing opens a wider playing field. Companies like mine give new and emerging authors the actual chance to make it without the barriers of traditional publishing. Not all literature or nonfiction is designed strictly to become a best seller. Some authors  want the opportunity to get their stories and voices out into the world. Other authors want their books to help make them subject matter experts and give them a platform from which to speak. And some other authors want a book to support their businesses.
Does this make those books bad? Does this make these books any less legitimate? Does self-publishing = poorly written? The answer is concretely no. So, next time you run into a TPSnob just give him or her a dose of reality from a grown-up author (not a 12-year-old, self-proclaimed but inexperienced expert).

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