Recently, we have all seen the huge wave of self-publishing opportunities for writers popping up almost daily. Either in e-pub format or in POD format (and yes, a couple of "independent" presses). The problem I have with many of these outlets is that there seems to be no quality standard being put into place. Sure they claim to have people editing these manuscripts. Sure they may have an art department and I.T. department to insure the writer's project "looks good," but, in terms of the stories I question the quality of the project.
I have heard many authors tell me they went this route because:
- Their story was unique and fell outside the "restrictive" guidelines of publishers.
- Their story was misunderstood by editors.
- Their story needed a "special" form of marketing that editors wouldn't take.
- Agents were too concerened about money to even consider their "unique" project.
My concern about many of these publishing outlets is simple. They are simply printing anything that comes across their desk, regardless of the true quality of the writing. In the end, however, the message that is being received by far too many authors out there is that this is an opportunity to either be published since the traditional publishers don't know their butt from a hot rock; or a chance to get published without being "fleeced" by those entrenched in the system (i.e editors and agents).
Please don't get me wrong. I am not saying EVERY one of these formats for publishig is bad. I am great friends and have great respect for several editors/publishers that work in this business. What I am simply saying is that if we want to talk about people "fleecing" the author, we need to stop and consider what these presses are really doing. They are simply making a profit off of writers with writing that is probably less that quality and, in the end, hurting many of these authors professionally. They are learning bad habits about the business. They are not seeing success. They are getting a false sense of success with their writing. And, when they do have a project that might have potential to do real things, they won't see it and may ruin that project as well.
I want to stress here that there is a place for markets such as this (this includes vanity presses). Maybe you have a project that you simply want to look better than something you print at your local FedEx Kinkos store. Maybe you want to memorialize someone or something. Maybe you have a church, team or school that wants to have something they can remember a special moment with. Maybe you are a creative writing teacher at a K-12 school that wants to produce a yearly Student Literary Magazine. These opportunities are FANTASTIC!!! But, for the serious writers out there, we need to stop and think.
(Wow, maybe too much coffee this morning).