On a writing site the other day, I saw a thread entitled, 'The Pubishing Industry is dead.'
Out of sheer nosiness, I clicked on and found a thinly veiled advertisement by a self publishing company. Nothing new there, but what was interesting were the responses, which broadly said, 'yeah' and 'right on brother'.
It reminded me of the SWP meetings I attended in my youth, where middles class students who had never worked a day in their lives would give their heart felt support for the workers of Nicaragua. From the safety of the pub, natch. Actually, as the daughter of a real life miner I had kudos beyond measure, which I profited from whenever possible, in the shape of pints of lager.
But back to self publishing...
I have to say my feelings on the topic are much like my feelings on vegetarianism and jogging. It's fine for other people, but personally I wouldn't do it.
It isn't the latent snobbery of the traditionally published that makes me say this. No. Frankly it's fear. Cold, hard, indesputable fear.
I have had three books out there on the shelves of WH Smiths. I have a contract for three more. Yet, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have never ever been able to read any of my own work and nod in satisfaction. Without exception, I am entirely unable to assess any of my projects objectively. In truth, I always think they are shit.
Before I even type the first word, I send a synopsis to my agent. If he says he likes my idea, I go ahead, though I remain convinced I won't pull it off.
Once the book's finished, I remain utterly unconvinced and sub it to my editor expecting a polite email turning it down.
How then, could I conceive of publishing my work without both my agent and editor telling me it's good enough? I tip my hat to those that have the confidence, but this writer is too much of a yellow belly.
Speaking of editors, how could I conceive of publsihing anything without the invaluable input of the editorial team? I know it's a fashionable myth that these days they do nothing to books. But it is just that. A myth. Every writer I know has a period where their book swings back and forth, wending through structural edits, line edits, copy edits. All my books have benefited immeasurably from the proccess. Look in any acknowledgement at the back of a book and you'll find the author giving humble thanks to their editing team. It's genuine gratitude, I think. If we were only grateful for them having bought our work, we'd more likely throw a high five to Bob In Marketing and Sales.
And that's another hurdle, for me at least: sales. I could no more walk into a book shop and ask them to stock my latest, than I could drink six liters of water a day ( or whatever the water experts say is 'a good thing'). How could I compete with that nice Bob In Marketing and Sales who knows all the buyers and can offer a discount on a BOGOF? The very thought makes me shudder.
I am neither salesman, nor publicist, nor PR guru.
I am just someone who makes stuff up and writes it down.
So I think I'll stick with traditional publishing. I suspect that, like Mark Twain, rumours of its demise have been greatly exagerated, and it will blunder along for some time yet.
No doubt I'm wrong, and when the revolution arrives, I shall be left behind in a pool of real ink...