Monday, June 23, 2014

Self-publishing "reactionary"?

So says an ardent supporter of the erstwhile corporate publishing monopoly:


"Trumpeted as a democratic broadening of the publishing field, 'authorpreneurialism' actually narrows the world of reading and writing"

This article has numerous holes in it. (I'm surprised that The Guardian even ran it, as incoherent as it is.) In the interest of brevity, I'll focus on one paragraph:

“By definition, self-publishing is an individualistic pursuit in which each writer is both publisher and market adventurer, with every other writer a potential competitor and the reader reduced to the status of consumer. Publishing then becomes timid, fearing to be adventurous and revolutionary lest it betray the expectations of its market. This is a natural tendency in traditional publishing but it is one restrained by the voices of its authors who are free to put their work first and entrepreneurship a distant second. With authorship and entrepreneurship now equal partners, the new authorpreneurs have thrown off the dictatorship of the editor to replace it with the tyranny of the market.”
The "tyranny of the market" exists whether one is writing for gatekeepers in the publishing industry or directly for readers. There is always a market. 

The only difference is, "who make the market?" Or--more precisely--who decides what books are presented to the marketplace? 

I should note, by the way, that I find the self-publishing vs. corporate publishing debate to be mostly unproductive, and characterized by misguided fervor on both sides. I don't want to see corporate publishers go under---any more than I would like to see, hypothetically, a law against self-publishing.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both---for readers as well as authors. But this piece in The Guardian presents neither side of the debate particularly well.