2013 – Week 16 and Hachette UK Disappointment

Hello and welcome to my 16th newsletter. Almost a third of the way through the year, and I’m still writing it. Feels good. Almost as good as writing itself.

This week life’s thrown me a curve ball. Nothing to do but deal with it. Somehow, the scheduled events on my blog happened, probably because I hate letting people down, and what a wonderful selection I had for you. Have a quick look at the wonderful authors I’ve had as guests and read the excerpts and reviews posted. You’ll find the calendar on the right of the screen quite a useful navigational tool. Hover your mouse cursor over each day and you’ll see the article name(s) for that particular day. I love using the calendar.

Writing – Eternal Immortality has gone through another re-write, to make it even more awesome, and we’re still working on it. It’s shaping up to be a cracker.

Editing – moving on with a YA book. Still a work in progress. Beta-reading will be my focus for next week.

Reading and reviews – I have a twelve-book stack to work through, and my kindle is nearing 300 titles. Oops!

Author Spotlights – I have a few more gems in the pipeline. Working hard on bringing you even more new authors and their masterpieces.

fencingContinuing with that theme, my new experiment this week, somewhat aided by fate and limited time, was a switch in social media. I spent far more time on LinkedIn, and far less on facebook. At first, it seemed fresh and intelligent. And then I started to notice the same few threads repeated again and again in most groups I visited. By far the most uncomfortable dealt with the question Should Self-Publishing be allowed to exist?

I was astounded at the vehemence with which every person receiving a paycheck from a traditional publisher would condemn a self-published author. Discussions turned vitriolic faster than the speed of light and soon I found myself missing the simplicity of 140 character tweets and the warm friendship of my facebook friends. LinkedIn may profess to be a professional interaction site, but I found myself covering my back like I used to do when I worked in the corporate world.

To be absolutely clear, this is my view on the subject of self-publishing:

The argument seems to be that traditional publishing guarantees quality, while there is no quality check in self-publishing.

In my comments, I mentioned one of the books I read – it was traditionally published by Hachette UK and was essentially a waste of my time. That comes after two others I have recently read – one by an ‘experienced’ author, and the other that was runner-up to some award (I forget which one). All these titles were traditionally published. I bought two in paperback and one in e-book format, TRUSTING (and that is the operative word) that I would get quality BECAUSE of the traditional label. I have been disappointed.

I firmly believe that self-publishing is a valuable option and can produce beautiful, fresh, inspiring content. It can also provide a good author with a launch pad. I know of authors who have been offered traditional publishing contracts after successful self-publishing – but since they had the validation from their fans by now, they were in no hurry to sign on the dotted line, and who can blame them? Of course people want a slice of the pie, once they know it’s tasty. It’s human nature.

Trouble is, self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted, and one of its by-products is a stronger breed of author, the one who is saying ‘you have kicked me like a dog all the way here, so now that I’ve made it excuse me for not trusting you’.

I say self-publishing gives us all more options. We have the right to choose what we read. And we have the right to an opinion. Self-publishing simply allows us to exercise that right. A free market allows for natural selection, so what’s the problem?

Quality must prevail, in all instances, and to imply a self-published book is not ‘quality’ simply because it doesn’t have the validation of an old-established publisher, a company, a person ultimately, is toxic and plain wrong. Who says we should allow a favoured few to decide what the public at large should or should not read? Just as a self-published author would be well-advised to use a good editor, so a traditionally published book cannot ‘hide’ behind a publisher’s name and call itself a quality product. 

I have been lucky enough to trip over some amazing self-published books, discovered brilliant mind-opening ideas and added a few new names to my Favourite Authors list. Some of these are works that have a too small readership to ever be picked up by a traditional publisher. They would not be commercially viable for a large company. It is the prerogative of a publisher to do what they please, of course, as it is mine to spend my time and money where I find most enjoyment.

One final thought. A hobby of mine is understanding people’s behaviour. I don’t shy away from looking at myself, and I have found that I drift towards self-published books nowadays, even avoid traditionally published ones, completely unconsciously. I do not do it on purpose, but when I look at my kindle, or my reviews, that is quite apparent. I cannot explain it in a logical manner. It just happens. I know I’m one of so many different million readers, but if only a small percentage think as I do, I know which way the publishing industry is going.


4 Replies to “2013 – Week 16 and Hachette UK Disappointment”

  1. “300 titles”—Oh, my. I thought MY reading list was long…

    I enjoyed reading your views on self-publishing. I agree–I’ve read traditionally published books that I’d rate as 2 to 3 stars, and I’ve read self-published books I’d give a 5-star rating to. Of course, the opposite can be true as well. Good books can be found on both sides of the aisle, and so can the stinkers. 🙂

  2. You make some very good points, and I am also amazed at how quickly the claws come out when discussing the topic.
    I tend to remain loyal to authors and not their publishers. When Alastair Reynolds or Jonathon Fletcher release a book, I will buy it regardless of how it got there because I like what they write.
    As a reader, i don’t actually care how the book got from the author’s brain to the printed book/e-reader. (although I would rather not pay hardback prices for an ebook!)
    Nice newsletter by the way.
    And for goodness sake, do some reading.

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