Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Always Been About the Readers

All right. I don't know where my "hackles" are, but they're raised.

I'm pissed. Vexed. Hot. Fuming.

A certain literary agent has suggested those "self-publishing" are doing it for selfish reasons and don't care about readers at all. You can read the whole ugly post here.


You couldn't be more wrong, Ms. High and Mighty, AKA protector of the weak, innocent reader. My God, what would readers do without big, tough literary agents guarding their reading time (and dollars)?

Here's the best part:

"My conclusion: This trend toward self-publishing serves primarily the writer.

(Not readers and not the publishing industry as a whole.)"

Oh--that's right, because it's my f*cking job to serve the publishing industry. I forgot. *smacks head* I'm supposed to work for free for years to try and squeak through the needle's eye until the great gate-keeping elite think they can properly profit from my free labor.

Yes, do you see that little word: profit. Because publishers are in this business to make money. Not "protect" readers.

I'm sick of the hypocrisy of a system which would publish Snooki's trash and then pretend to be a protector of readers. Sick of it. Stop lying to me. Stop lying to the public. Stop lying to readers.

You know who cares more about readers than you, giant publishing machine? Writers do--all of them, whether "traditionally" published or indie or whatever. I like how we've decided the indentured servant model of publishing is "traditional". Back in Ben Franklin's day, anyone who owned a printing press was published. Don't play word games until you know a little history.

But wait--I'm not the one who has to prove I care about readers. I'm not the one readers are questioning, am I?

Every story I write is a love-letter to storytelling.

Go climb back in your stupid castle and shut the gate. We heathens will sit around our campfires and tell stories well into the night--as it should be.

Write hard!


Joyful Sparrow said...

High five for this post, Mr. Polson. You're quite an inspiration to keep, keep at it. For all the right reasons.

Unknown said...

I totally agree. The gatekeeper system has been a game for too long. Their requirements for publication are almost some pseudo religion, with the sins of each author mounting against them.

Imagine what the publishing industry would have thought about this blog post a few years ago. You would have been blacklisted. Now you are on an even playing field with a mounting back list.

Give 'em hell Mr. Polson.

Tony said...

*Raises fist in the air* Hell yeah! That Snooki example hit the nail on the head.

Alan W. Davidson said...

You slammed them, and rightfully so Mr. Polson.

The system is changing and they are 'circling the wagons'. I loved the Snooki example as well. It's all about the fast and easy buck for them while writers struggle (ie. work their F/T jobs) to get by.

Barry Napier said...

I was thinking about this sort of thing 2 days ago when I saw that Jesse James now has a book out (y'know the guy famous because he cheated on Sandra Bullock and tinkers with motorcycles). When publishers and agents are trying so hard to turn the book industry into literary reality TV, it' hard to give two shits about what they think about the condition of self publishing. Great post.

Daniel Powell said...

It's a ridiculous post that smacks of paranoia and, maybe, even a little desperation.

I think when you see folks like Barry Eisler taking control of his publishing future, it's downright frightening for agents. We're starting to see some major authors that can't find any valuable return on investment (time/control/money) in the present model.

While I don't agree with the author of that post, I see her point and I understand her fear. But it's the wrong message to say that readers are harmed in an industry that has been so backward (your Snooki reference above fits perfectly) in how it shapes the field.

I reckon she'll wish she hadn't written that post...

Katey said...

It's all so appallingly out of touch.

Okay, I admit that sometimes I have treasonous thoughts about democracy being the worst way to run a country ever. (Yay for republics!) But even I don't think that people need someone to help them sort out what they like to read, eat, watch, draw, or otherwise enjoy. (Provided, of course, that said enjoyment doesn't infringe on the rights of others. Yeah. That.)

And to compare the purity of motives between independent authors and publishers? Really?

Good god. I don't even. I think Daniel has the right of it, there.

Aaron Polson said...

Sparrow - Until my dying day.

Tony S - The buck stops here? ;)

Tony - I'm sure somebody made a good amount of scratch.

Alan - We shall bring a quiver full of flaming arrows.

Barry - Jesse Freakin' James. 'nuff said.

Daniel - I think she might have offended some readers.

Katey - There you go with the Republic again... ;) I enjoy telling stories and plan to continue doing so.

K.C. Shaw said...

Wow, yeah, I was floored by that post. I wouldn't have expected that sort of attitude from that particular agent, either--but agents in general seem to think they're super-important right now. After all, they're holding the tides of crap at bay with their mighty intellect, making sure that only the very best books are shown to publishers, because if they didn't, readers might read unapproved books!

Bah. I'm not a big proponent of self-publishing, mostly because a big chunk of self-publishers really aren't ready for publication--but I'm perfectly capable of deciding for myself what books I want to buy and read. And I certainly don't think self-published authors are just in it for ego-stroking, any more than I think unsigned local bands are just playing local clubs in hopes of getting a few groupies.

Laurita said...

Well said, Mr. Polson. Since when is choice a bad thing for a reader?

Blessed Rain said...

As an unpublished Author who is trying to land an agent I can tell you I have a deal with myself. I won't spend more trying to get my book published then it would cost me to self publish.
I see NOTHING wrong with self publishing as the book business is a brutal world.
Plus its the only way you know for sure that the public really likes your book for your book. ;)
Tell it like it is!

Unknown said...


I get really tired of the argument against author who self-publish, as if traditional publishing isn't equally guilty of churning out garbage 90% of the time. Quality is not something the publishing houses can claim exclusivity to--not by a long shot.

Meaghan said...

I unfollowed that beyotch from twitter & my reader today - I can't believe that crap. Agents are shaking in their boots because they know they are going out of style and they are worried about their jobs - her points made no sense whatsoever. Thank you for bringing her post to our attention, I could have missed it in my reader and then would not have been able to share in your outrage. Argh!

Everything Indie said...

Great post!

Robert said...

You just don't care about the reader, Aaron Polson!!!

Seriously, though, who are these writers agreeing with her in the comments? Do they really think that the more they comment on her posts, the more likely it is she'll eventually sign them as clients? They're delusional.

Aaron Polson said...

K.C. - I'd agree about self-publishing. I think there is a "happy medium". I'm just not sure anyone but end readers should decide.

Laurita - Um, never?

Blessed - Self-publishing (at least the e-variety) doesn't have to cost anything but time. ;)

Gef - Small presses tend to "get" it, too.

Meaghan - They (agenting types) are getting a bit testy/defensive of late.

Everything - Thanks!

Robert - I know. I'm a callous son of a bitch. ;) Maybe if I post a retraction, she'll look at my next manuscript!

Danielle Birch said...

What a bunch of malarkey. Great post, Aaron :)

craighallam said...

Hell yeah! Good for you! I dont know how they can say we dont care about readers. Hell, it's all I think about! Do they like what I've done? Are they enjoying it? How can I make it better so they WILL enjoy it?

Pah, I say, pah and and then pfffthhhh.

Cate Gardner said...

I am tired of the endless internet merry-go-round of self publishers are evil, the major publishers are evil, agents are evil and statements such as I'd never buy a self published book or I'm only buying self published books.

We're all writers at the end of the day.

I hate to see people like your good self getting so wound up and vexed and possibly losing a good few hours writing because of thoughtless posts. Yes, some people self publish because they want money, and others traditionally publish because they want money (James Patterson anyone).

Sometimes I buy crap books, sometimes I buy good books, and I'm always searching for a book that stays with me forever and I don't care where it's born.

Simon Kewin said...

Great post, Aaron. I'm with you. I guess a lot of people in the traditional industry are getting worried?

Aaron Polson said...

Thanks, Danielle.

Craig - I second your pfffthhhh.

Cate - Writers write. Let's just call everyone evil and get it over with. ;)

Simon - Sounds like it.

Unknown said...

This blog entry was very informative! I will be following your blog from now on. I love the info giving and the comments from the posters. I am truly honored to be in the presence of independent thinkers.

Black Matrix Publishing said...

As co-owner of an independent small press, I encounter this attitude all the time. There are a great many people who do not want to see a level playing field in the publishing industry. What puzzles me is, a lot of them are readers.

We provide a good sample on our site of each book we publish so that potential readers can decide for themselves if the writing is up to their standards. No one has to buy a thing without knowing the quality of the product. Our selection process for publication is simple: we publish novels and stories we enjoyed reading, something we would recommend to a friend. We also pay our novel writers %50 of the net profit on every book sold. These are not the type of policies you find at major publishers today.

Let the reader decide what should be a success, and let them choose from every possible source. That's the way it's supposed to be done when you have freedom of expression. Since when did having more choices become a bad thing?

Guy Kenyon
Black Matrix Publishing

Fox Lee said...

Write hard, but not too fast. You might chafe.

Unknown said...

Natalie wins. Put that on a t-shirt.