My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Earthquake in Publishing World

The other day, I read an a blog post by John Bethune on the topic of publishing ( Unlike many other posts, articles, and discussions I have seen on the topic, he refrained from saying the self-publishing marks the death of traditional publishing, or that self-publishing will eventually fade away. He also doesn't say that the act of publishing is going to be buried any time soon. He simply remarks on the dynamics at stake in the publishing world. All types of publishing (traditional, vanity, and self) are producing good works. All three are producing bad writing. None of them lays a claim on quality any more. The only difference is how they operate.

This made the gears in my mind start turning over. We are living in a time where the terms "writer," "author," and "publisher" are fluid and blurry. They are constantly changing and many of us cannot agree on one definition for any of these words.

What is the distinction between an author and a writer? Many have told me that a writer becomes an author after they have been published. What if you were published by a vanity press and only a handful of people bought your novel? Does it still count? What about people that self-publish? Though they haven't gone through the traditional channels that used to define the publishing industry, have they still made the transition to author?

Just like many others, I am at a loss when it comes to answering these questions. I prefer to just try to keep up with the many different directions that the publishing industry is going in and to judge them by their own outcomes. I am slowly learning to turn to the Internet for my reading material, along with the bookstore. As always, however, I will decide for myself if a piece is worth reading or not. No matter who published it.


  1. I know we've tooted the quality horn many times in regards to self-publishing but it bears repeating that although both traditional and self-published are equally prone to bland plots, self-published stories have overwhelmingly bad grammar, sentence, and plot structures.

    I downloaded about twenty freebies and 0.99 sales and they unanimously read like debut 'anyway' manuscripts. You know, the kind you start revising after completing a first draft, then notice all the structural and plot deficiencies but move on anyway. Just get it out there.

    Look. I'm not saying that self-publishing is not a GREAT opportunity. It is. But sometimes one needs to consider their first books could be a test run as they gather skill and writing techniques. Didn't Stephen King fail to sell his first two novels?

    If you've written a strong novel and have had it professionally edited by a GOOD editor, I'm sold. I want to read good stories.

  2. It will be a relief for those self published writers who have actually produced quality work to be able to shake the stigma (if , in fact, this can be done...) but unfortunately there is a lot of really poor quality writing out there. With no 'gatekeepers' it is hard for readers to know what is going to be well written and what is amateur. Even looking at the reviews on sites such as amazon is misleading. Some people have convinced a lot of 'friends' to post five star reviews when in fact the book isn't that good. What a disappointment!

  3. I really like this article Rebecca. I agree that the terms author, publisher, and writer are being blurred. In my opinion it doesn't matter. When I find a book I want to read I don't look to see who the publisher is and I don't care if it's self published and I bet most people are like that.

  4. There are many freelance editors out there willing to help authors that are self-publishing, however. Just because the venue is not through a traditional publishing company does not mean that a professional hasn't tweaked it.

    I do agree, however, that it is hard to tell the difference between a quality novel and a poorly-written one before you buy it. Hopefully, this will change as time goes on and the eBook industry continues to evolve.

    It also comes down to knowledge. If the writer hasn't done their research and reading, if they haven't taken a course or attended a seminar on writing, and/or if they haven't learned from the experience of other writers, then they will most likely make the mistake of publishing too soon. They have not yet developed the patience and skill to continue working on an initial manuscript. However, after they receive bad reviews and poor sales, they will learn. Again, as self-publishing develops into a more mainstream approach, this will hopefully die down and new writers will have a better idea of what they are getting into.

    Thank you all for reading! Don't forget to check back often for new ideas and tips. I love hearing from you!