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Publishing Industry: The Grand Illusion

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Publishing Industry: The Grand Illusion

Disclaimer: This view is closely aligned to, but not necessarily in perfect synchronicity with IFWG Publishing – it is however, the viewpoint of Gerry Huntman, Chief Editor of IFWG Publishing, and author of this article. It should also be added that this is a high level discussion and does not target, nor wants to target, any individual author, particularly self-publishing authors.

The publishing industry is volatile and there are many people involved in it, or are affected by it, from the ‘Big Six’ publishers, down through the hundreds of smaller traditional publishing houses, the thousands of mini presses, and the hundreds of thousands of self publishers.

We can’t forget the mega-sized book sellers/distributors, lesser sellers, printers and distributing companies, and, finally, the hundreds of millions of readers.

This volatility isn’t just affected by the number of moving parts. We also have the immense impact of technological change and corporate business maneuvering. Technological advances and business models that enable the accessibility to all of these players (and creating great wealth to accumulate to a handful of companies), enables self-publishing and the expansion (and rebadging) of vanity publishing. Many of these innovations have also been adopted by the full spectrum of ‘traditional’ publishers. The technological changes most penetrating are ‘print on demand’ systems, ebook devices and supporting systems, and the various Internet systems that have enabled online publishing, delivery, marketing and distribution of products.

All of these changes, and many more not mentioned, have, and continue to, impact on the industry, and the state of change has not abated. We can only observe what has occurred and speculate – because the complexity of the changes, and being caught in it while it is still happening, makes it too difficult to fully analyze. If this was not the case, there would not be so much heated debate. If even one person ‘nutted it out’, that person would be a mega-rich publishing analyst. No such person exists.

IFWG Publishing is a pebble on the publishing beach. Using the language of preceding paragraphs, you could define us as a small traditional publisher, utilizing print runs and more often, printing on demand, as well as several ebook formats. We are not self-publishers, nor are we a vanity press, or any one of the many other labels used for them today. We created our company in part to give upcoming genre writers an improved chance to get published, as well as to make a modest living thereof. We experimented with several business models and in the end, having learned a lot about publishing the hard way, we have more or less settled on a simple model indeed.

We are a traditional publisher, which essentially means that we publish titles where the author does not pay a cent, and where we professionally edit, proofread, format in-block text, have covers created, assign ISBNs, and insert into professional distribution systems. We also market, but the extent to which we can market is curtailed by cost, but we certainly do what we can. Authors get royalties. The value of going through us is that we guarantee to produce a professional product and which is recognized by the industry. If an author self publishes, it is HIGHLY LIKELY that the product would be substandard on most, if not all, components of the publishing lifecycle. Exceptions exist, but we are talking sweepstakes odds. In any case, those who self-publish successfully are either those who have already made a name in the traditional field, or if they are one of the few who made it big from the start, eventually get signed up by traditional publishers anyhow.

Self-publishers who participate in discussion and social networking espousing the virtues of self-publishing, its success stories, and accounts of evil traditional publishers, are collectively involved in consolidating a grand illusion.

We are not bitter and twisted about self-publishing, and in fact have close personal and professional relationships with some self-publishers, but we would be dishonest to deny what we believe to be true. If there is anything to get angry over, it is the way the dynamics of the industry sustains the grand illusion.

IFWG Publishing works on a very simple principle – if a given manuscript meets a decent literary standard, we will help polish it to brilliance and help sell it. High sales or not, our authors have a continuum of quality, recognised work behind them that will ultimately benefit their careers. The majority of participants in the grand illusion cannot do this, and in all likelihood, never will. Part of the problem is that so many of the books published today are substandard, and the sad fact is the vast majority of the writers do not even know it. Even flogging off a couple of thousand copies of a title with a great cover, or with the aid of a potent sponsor/reviewer, does not a good book make – all it does is prop up the grand illusion.

What will be the state of play in the future? We can’t be certain, but we have theories. Right now ebooks still represent a smaller percentage of total sales, but it is growing. We have no doubt it will eventually outstrip print books, but that is not a concern at all to us, and the majority of publishers in the world, because we all make use of this new technology. Just look at who publishes the vast majority of the top 100 ebooks. Many commentators seem to miss this point, being the vocal core of the grand illusion, entangling the self-publishing and ebook publishing debates, when in fact they are mutually exclusive. We should point out, however, that ebooks are much more easily subject to piracy than print, and it concerns us that this may in fact have a significant impact on our, and authors’, revenue, as meagre as it currently is.

Small publishers come and go. Most of us run it in part for the love, and are more concerned with minimizing losses,  than gaining hefty profits. There are dreams, of course. We believe that as long as we keep producing quality products, we will eventually get a following, and can eventually become a viable business. The companies we look up to, to which we want to attain similar reputation, include Apex Book Company, Night Shade Books, and Subterranean. There are many more, which is encouraging.

We believe there will always be a place in the industry for new, successful small presses, especially in the genre fields. There are so many readers who have insatiable appetites for quality reads. There are two forces that are currently our greatest challenges – the degree of monopolization that big businesses go through, and in the process, skim hard-won revenue, and the proliferation of self-published rubbish that dilutes the landscape of available, good literature, ultimately obfuscating quality work (whether it is self published or traditionally published).

One final thought. While highly speculative, some of us have been talking about a factor that most commentators ignore. The readers. As a reader myself, am I happy to purchase ebooks from unknown authors and get highly disappointed more often than not? If I am dissatisfied, how do I fix this? One option is to stick to the known publishers (which many people do), and possibly, look for sites on the web that will help (on a reader’s behalf) separate the wheat from the chaff. Such sites exist. But some of us don’t think that’s enough. We wonder if it is possible that in the coming years there will be other mechanisms put in place to ensure this separation, ironically to become a force that creates a massive subclass of titles, becoming virtually like the ‘bad old days’ when editors and agents were the thrashers. Perhaps these same jobs in the future will take on this role. If you ask me, I can’t wait for this to happen. Perhaps the untalented/unskilled writers will finally ‘get it’ and either choose to write for self-satisfaction, or return to work full time on their day jobs. Perhaps the hard working, talented writers will find a better defined career path, be they the minority quality self-publishers, or those who choose to strictly stay within traditional modes.

For the hard working, talented writers, IFWG Publishing and our peers are waiting to hear from you.

NB. IFWG Publishing has been swamped with excellent work and its publishing schedule is full through 2013. It will open to submissions in March 2013, through its submissions page.

Publishing Industry: The Grand Illusion was last modified: December 23rd, 2013 by IFWG Publishing

34 Responses to "Publishing Industry: The Grand Illusion"

  1. RMitchell  Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 17:36

    Dear Mr. Huntman,
    I have enjoyed reading your article and can appreciate the points made.

    Publishing has changed dramatically in the past few years and I’m continually amazed at the pace, and you’re correct in saying that over time many untalented writers will eventually “get it” and return to writing for pleasure or not at all. I’m one who believes my talent will propel me above the rest.

    I’ve written, and published a novel (Sons In The Clouds) in the inspirational romance genre which I’d appreciate your reading for consideration. It’s received wonderful reviews, was professionally edited, and has resonated with readers of all demographics.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sons-In-The-Clouds-ebook/dp/B0052MPSL2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1344525902&sr=1-1&keywords=sons+in+the+clouds

    Thank you again for writing such an informative article about the industry, and your organization.

    Sincerely,
    Randy Mitchell

    • IFWG Publishing  Friday, August 10, 2012 at 8:33

      Hi Randy

      Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately I will pass on reading your work, as I publish speculative fiction genres and I would never be able to do yours justice as a reader, editor or publisher. Good luck with your efforts.

      A kind word of advice – it really doesn’t look that good to comment on the content of an article, and then blatantly try to sell your work, practically before drawing a second breath. This, too, is another reason why I decline to read your work.

      Kind regards
      G

  2. Elizabeth Lang  Friday, August 10, 2012 at 11:01

    A hard-hitting article. Love it.

    I can’t wait either. It’s time the amateurs realized that, ‘no’, not everyone can be a writer and that it takes dedication and lots of hard work, and that it’s not some get-rich-quick scheme where you can easily pick up some pocket change.

  3. RMitchell  Friday, August 10, 2012 at 17:57

    Thank you for your response. My apologies for not realizing that your organization mainly publishes speculative fiction. Also, the last sentence of the article led me to believe you were open to new possibilities, which is why I mentioned my work.

    Thank you again for your time,

    All Best

    • Joyce White
      joycewhite  Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 5:10

      Hang in there Randy. I think Gerry should be the one apologizing for his remarks. It is a shame with power and authority comes blow-fish ego’s and unkindness. Joyce

    • IFWG Publishing  Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 10:47

      Randy

      Just read your explanation – understand. Not a problem. I can’t tell you how many times I get unsolicited email, postings etc for work, in in appropriate context.

      Good luck with your quest for fulfillment

      G

  4. Angie  Friday, August 10, 2012 at 21:53

    Dear Gerry,
    Thank you for these revitalizing insights. So good to see you are a vanguard in this industry, keeping yourself updated with all facets of contemporary publishing.
    Angie

    • IFWG Publishing  Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 10:49

      cheers Angie

      I didn’t spare anything on this (hence some responses) but I do hope that readers will see this as a general observation, not targeted to any individuals.

      G

  5. Joyce White
    joycewhite  Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 5:02

    Hi Gerry. I’m one of those self-publishing artists and am offended somewhat by your article. Tell me, how would I get to be a better writer, like yourself and your authors at IFWG, if we had no incentive or outlet to hone our craft? Thankfully, I appreciate Angies, Authorsden.com, Global Healing.com, Blogit, and my own website, where I get to practice my craft daily. I’m a much better writer because of them. It seems to me many of us writers may never have the opportunity or the talent to be published in any other way than self-publishing. I published my first book through Authorhouse and was sorely disappointed. Unlike your agency they didn’t even advise me on my book cover which is so important to sell our books. Checking your web out, I find it beautiful, organized and impersonal, which is my main complaint about your article. Where is your name? I like the idea of publishing helping writers but I’m left cold and unimpressed at your comment to Randy. I hope he proves you wrong in your split decision to read his work. Joyce

    • Elizabeth Lang  Monday, August 13, 2012 at 9:37

      Okay guys. What’s the deal here? Why should the publisher be apologizing when the person submitting doesn’t even bother reading the, very clear, submission guidelines? It’s a real insult that the writer who thinks they can ignore rules or can’t even take the time to read a companies guidelines. Who exactly is being arrogant here? I don’t think it’s the publisher.

      Submission guidelines are usually clearly set out for any publishing house, indie or large publisher so stop wasting people’s time by submitting to the wrong place.

      Publishing houses have their own niche genres, especially indies that have a small budget and have to concentrate on specific markets.

      And the person who ‘claimed’ that the publisher admitted to hating indies…I have a name for you but I won’t say it because it would be rude. The publisher in question respects indies, his company is an indie publisher so unless you think he hates himself, yeah…makes a lot of sense. Plus, this publisher is friends with many self-pubs and respects them so again…sorry but your claims…highly doubtful.

  6. gerryhuntman  Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 7:31

    Joyce

    Please read my article carefully. I did not want it to offend because it is not directed at individuals. I haven’t read your work, so how can I judge you as a writer?

    Am I better writer? I leave it to others to make that judgement – that wasn’t the point of my article at all. I can say that IFWG Publishing works hard to polish manuscripts that show promise, so yes, the publisher does publish worthy titles from worthy writers, but beyond that, it would be better to leave it to others to ultimately determine.

    The thesis of my article is that there is a self-supporting illusion among many self-publishers that they are great (worthy) writers, and there is no mechanism to easily reality check them. A direct result of this is that there is a proliferation of rubbish and readers are bombarded with them, and can’t easily identify the better writers from those that aren’t.

    As to Randy, my only concern expressed is a matter of perception – he wrote more lines in his post on drumming his own novel than actually commenting on my article. Remembering that this article is about a viewpoint on the state of publishing, how would most people interpret Randy’s motives? Again, I leave it to others.

    Author sites and blogs are wonderful, hence us being affiliated with Angie’s for some time. This is the right forum for being ‘personal’. IFWG’s site, which certainly can, and will, improve, is a commercial concern and has an entirely different purpose. Chalk and cheese. We publish a dozen or so titles a year, and all our authors know we support them, and treat them virtually like family. Unfortunately we can’t boil the ocean – we can only work with the authors we have, and they are a small number.

    Writing, in itself, is a great way to improve, but it only gets you so far. Getting strong, skilled, authoritative feedback is the key to becoming a good writer, if you have the base talent. Writing groups, beta readers, etc, all contribute to this. Self Publishing, alone, does not assist in this space – the best it can do is simply allow you to practice more.

  7. Joyce White
    joycewhite  Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 17:30

    Hi Gerry, thank you for responding. It gave me a better understanding of your article. My problem with your thought is: Even the under privileged, uneducated and untalented have a right to free press. We underlings need shelter, food and access to computers to survive and hone our craft. We self-publish. Getting personal and/or authoritative feedback is the key to becoming a good writer. As can be seen on American Idol, some of us think we can sing, and we can’t! Some of us think we can write, and we can’t, but the self-knowledge we acquire from trying seals our self-esteem. With better self-esteem we are more likely to add to the world rather than subtract. Joyce

    • IFWG Publishing  Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 3:15

      thanks Joyce

      I’ll leave you with a thought related to what you said. The title of my article included the ‘Grand Illusion’ – which did not, and does not, relate to self esteem. It targets for discussion those who have no facility to check their own progress as writers, and viability. If illusion is what is chosen to prop up self esteem, I think it is tragic in the majority of cases, because when the bubble pops, the fall is much more painful. Self-publishing, by itself, provides no checks and balances on this.

      I will give myself as an example of how I deliberately navigate my way to a career as a professional writer (and may I add, I have a ways to go yet). I wrote a few novels, and I thought they were pretty good. I was excited by them. I then got rejected a lot. A lot. I did the worst thing for a while – I assumed that it wasn’t me that caused the reaction, it was the ‘tough business’ of publishing, the editors who don’t read enough to give me a chance, the agents who simply don’t understand what a good book is. In other words, I entered the Grand Illusion.

      Not long after that dark period, I chose to join a very talented group of people where we shared each others work to better our writing. I took a deliberate step forward to focus on what kind of writer I am, and move out of the Grand Illusion. These people did exactly the same as me. We started writing short stories, vignettes, and excerpts of larger works, and my writing skills exponentially grew. We have been doing it for near on 4 years, and nearly 30 of those short stories I wrote have been published in short story markets.

      I realized something from this experience, and I pursued short story writing emphatically as a result. I discovered how unpolished my novels were. I discovered that being accepted in a popular magazine/anthology/ezine, and read by thousands, was a true ‘reality check’ of my skills, than publishing a novel, selling it cheap (and sometimes for nothing), not knowing how many have really read it, only relying on a handful of reviews, some of which were written by friends and family.

      I have found self-esteem by way of interacting with good, reliable critics, and I expose my work to the public who are discerning, and where feedback is also reliable. This self-esteem stems from knowing I am accepted, and that I am improving as a writer.

      Most importantly, I removed myself from the Grand Illusion.

      I don’t suggest that everyone follows my footsteps. Some people simply hate writing short stories, for example, although I would argue if you are keen on being a professional writer, you should consider diversifying, because that is how the professionals make a living. However, I would suggest to writers that instead of succumbing to the temptation of publishing what they have, that perhaps they should do their ‘apprenticeship’ first, and really get to know what needs improving – because I can assure you, we all need it, and the people who need it the most, are those who don’t accept criticism, or who blame negative feedback or sales, or whatever, to external, illusory forces.

      • Joyce White
        joycewhite  Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 16:56

        Gerry, Hi again, actually I bow to your expertise. I’m not saying this sarcastically. I agree with your Grand Allusion as your article now speaks to. Vanity Presses are flooding the market with so much crap including 50 Shades of Gray triology and The Girl with the Dragon. Sadly, both were so successful, they’re on their way to movies. If it is a genuine crap detector you’d like for your agency, I suggest you inquire as to the program Triond.com and Factoids uses. They run our work through their crap detector and in record time, our hard work is rejected if our work is sub-par, similar to work already published or just plain plagiarism. Maybe publishing would benefit by running new work through such a system before taking their time to read. I especially like the idea of helping the authors. It is true vanity presses do nothing but take our money for minimal services. Been there, done that. Won’t do that again. Sincerely enjoyed our talks. I hope I hadn’t offended anyone. Joyce

    • Elizabeth Lang  Monday, August 13, 2012 at 10:05

      I’m glad someone mentioned American Idol. What you don’t get is that these people went through the system properly, one way of which is contests. They did it the proper way. They did not self-produce their own records or videos and put it in a store so that unsuspecting buyers would get it and find they’ve wasted their time because the person wanted to use them to act like their own personal coach by giving constructive feedback. There are people who do that on American Idol. REAL PROFESSIONALS who vet the hundreds of thousands of applications, who then get whittled down further, and THEN finally they get to appear on American Idol, where the PROFESSIONALS whittle them down even further until only the best are left to be voted on by the public. That way the public doesn’t have to waste their time because we don’t have than much time to waste. When I download music or a book, I’m expecting to enjoy myself. I want to relax. Not be someone’s editor.

  8. Elizabeth Lang  Monday, August 13, 2012 at 9:56

    “Tell me, how would I get to be a better writer”
    There are many ways without inflicting it on the unsuspecting public who buy books expecting some level of quality, or who go to online bookstores expecting that semi-decent material that has been vetted properly is being sold.

    That is one of my beefs with this explosion of self-pubs–and again for those who want to claim that I hate self-pubs, I don’t, never have, some of my best friends are very talented self pubs and I can name you a half dozen who do very well as self-pubs and whom I admire a lot–is that the majority are dumping their works on the public and expecting the public to tell them whether they’re good, i.e. if their works have any quality or should be taken back to the drawing board or need a few editors and proofreaders to take a pencil through it. But that is NOT the job of the reader. Not in the old days when people actually read for fun, not drafted to be editors of writers who can’t be bothered to find avenues where they can improve their craft before inflicting it on the reading public.

    How can you grow as a writer or find people who will give you constructive criticism? Sigh. That would not be readers. Try story sites, critique groups, find a few people who have more qualifications than just being your friend to go through it with a fine-tooth dictionary and grammar manual.

    And self-pubs get so defensive about every little criticism, esp about their work, as if it were a personal insult, or the person didn’t get their story. That’s part of the business. Be professional. Not a defensive wanna-be. Anyone who has been in the industry seriously as a writer will tell you that not everyone will like your book. It’s ridiculous to expect that.

    I’ve been to fan conventions and one message always comes across loud and clear, and that is the admonishment to please be professional. It’s a serious craft, treat it as such. Stop being such children, whining about being rejected as if it were some personal insult. If you get rejected, improve yourself and keep improving yourself. That’s what serious craftspeople do. Read books about writing. Take writing courses. Find people who know what they’re talking about and learn from them. Get to know the industry and what sells. Learn how book marketing and sales work. Don’t put your book up there and expect people to flock to it because you’re some genius writer. Face it, you’re not. And anyone who thinks they are, esp newbies, are kidding themselves. It’s the height of arrogance. Your book is a tiny water molecule in a vast ocean. No one will find you unless you’re hit by lightning or you start learning how to function in this profession that you’ve dared to enter into. It has never been an easy industry, but the vast influx of newbies come in expecting it to be like get-rich-quick scheme and try to get around the system by taking so many short cuts that the only ones who suffer are the poor readers who download books expecting to be readers, only to realize that they’ve been drafted as unsuspecting editors of crappy work. I hope some of you don’t try going into book club and have them read your book, only to face a scathing audience. Because it really is an insult to waste a readers time.

    I’m sure that there are self-pubs out there who are good, and as I said, I know a couple and respect them a great deal. But the vast majority act like the exception makes the rule. It doesn’t. That is the Grand Illusion.

  9. Alan Place  Monday, August 13, 2012 at 14:48

    I am at a loss to understand this article. I thought Angie was a supporter of Indie Writers, yet she endorses a magazine which is run by a true HATER of the Indie writer. I know this as HE told me that when he left my Facebook group.
    He thinks ALL Indies writers are RUBBISH.

    To think I sent a story to his magazine, with hopes of seeing it on line- DON’T bother now.

    From what I have read, once you join a big 6 firm you lose control of YOUR book. THEY chose the cover and market plans. I would rather stay Indie and have the control over my covers. Okay, I wont have top class cover designs but at least they will be pertinent to the story.

    • Rick Carufel  Monday, August 13, 2012 at 21:04

      Sad to see you go Alan. I perceive the main problem with traditional publishers is that the inundation of people groveling to get published has given publishers a false sense of importance, authority and expertise. Just because they are bombarded with publishing requests does not increase their knowledge of the publishing game. They just become more pompous, arrogant, and critical of fledgling writers. Instead of trying to publish good books that make a steady profit over the years, they try to cherry-pick the next big hit, in their opinion, which could be far off the mark, and disregard hundreds of very good books. Traditional publishing has become a jaded bloated pig ready for the slaughter.

  10. Rick Carufel  Monday, August 13, 2012 at 20:50

    Let’s look at this logically.

    Traditional method of publication:
    Writer wants a career in writing shops manuscripts for years before finding a publisher.

    Indy method of publication:
    Writer wants a career in writing publishes a book in less than a week.

    My method of publication:
    Writer wants a career in writing publishes books independently and hopes to attract enough sales or fans so a traditional publisher shows interest and offers a deal.

    Granted the Indy books need to be properly proofed and edited.

    • Joyce White
      joycewhite  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 13:39

      Yes, Yes, Yes!

  11. IFWG Publishing  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 4:11

    Alan

    Get your facts right, and start by reading my article without filtered lenses.

    1. I left your group because instead of discussions in the main being about WRITING, it was, instead, mostly indie writers trying to flog off their books. FB is a social network. I simply didn’t want to waste my time. I NEVER said I hated or disliked indie writers (look up the messages – not a single case).
    2. Equally, if you read my article, including the preamble RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING – I made it clear that the article was a high level view, and by definition was not singling out individual writers – that means, a) I recognise that there are good indie writers, and b) I have a large circle of friends who self publish (and still do).

    I made my article intentionally harsh, but I never used any HATE words (I am using upper case to match your style and tone of commenting, btw). Read my article again and find ONE. The strongest words I use are, to paraphrase, most self published titles are under par, and rubbish. They are. I challenge you to purchase, say, 20 titles randomly from self-published authors, with a mix of free, 99c, 1.99 and 4. Read them and tell me how many are worthy of publication, and how many are in fact rubbish. Tell me how many are great.

    Angie’s site is a writers’ site, not an indie writers’ site. She shows the true spirit of journalism which is often failing in this world – she allows views to be aired from all different sectors of the industry. While my article may have been hard hitting, it was not insulting, and while some comments following it were passionate, they were not insulting.

    Rick

    While I acknowledge that in the old days when there was little choice, it took years and years to get a break, and I suspect some authors didn’t get the break when they were worthy, I believe that in most cases it took that long for the author to get the experience gained by this to become a better author. In the short story market, it takes most writers 10 years to get the ‘pro’ payment for the first time – 10 years! Why? Because the short story submitted by the author 10 years after starting, was of publishable quality in the top end market, and the first story submitted 10 years prior, as much as the author thought it was great, wasn’t. Superimpose this concept in terms of novel submissions.

    Your approach to publishing is good, in my estimation, because it implies that you have a plan, and you are (likely) working to improve your skills, polish etc. You are likely to be the exception to the far larger group that I was targeting.

    However, your comments on trad publishers doesn’t include the caveat about generalisation, that I, for instance, used with self publishers. Yes, there are arrogant publishers in all strata – small, medium and large, but saying they all are is as illogical as saying that all self publishers are worthless and don’t know what they are doing – which is clearly not the case. What many self publishers fail to realise is that most publishers are in the game because they like it and nothing excites them more than discovering new talent. Not only is there a great deal of satisfaction in the find, it also enables both the author and the publisher to prosper by the act. This is self-evident to most publishers. As a small publisher and editor, I spend the majority of my time helping upcoming, talented writers get published with ZERO compensation. It is for the love, and the hope that one day we get the return to boot.

    It is really easy to put on the filters and interpret my article as being pompous and grandiloquent – very easy. The reason why is because of the limitations of language, when someone says, ‘most self-publishers produce sub-standard titles’, there is no easy way to lessen the harshness of it. The thesis of my article is the hypothesis that there is a dynamic within the self-publishing community that makes it very hard for many individual self-publishers to improve themselves, because they have ‘snap-shotted’ their development by committing to poor work. And, of course, there are some who simply can never make it. If I said to the community of long distance runners in the world, who no doubt run into the hundreds of thousands, that perhaps only several hundred deserve to run in the olympics, and only several thousand can run in professional marathons, do the remaining hundreds of thousands feel peeved by my statement? Many of these runners who are in the out may have the potential, they just need to do what it takes to get to their goal, and it might take years and continual, often professional, effort. There are others who just simply can’t make the grade, period. Losing races, and losing badly, helps these runners determine where they stand, what they need to do, and make milestone decisions about whether they should continue. No such mechanism exists in the self-publishing field, without a conscious effort on the part of individual writers.

    What is important, is that everyone should be given the opportunity to prove themselves, and/or develop. We are contributing to it in our way. My concern, reflected in my article, is that the industry is in such a hiatus, that the proliferation of poor work is just too high, as it is having a negative effect on writers who are nearer their goal, it is harming readers who are picking up too much trash, and the Grand Illusion does not assist writers in properly being helped.

    • Rick Carufel  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 6:00

      I have been an avid reader since the late 50s. I have read thousands of stories. I am now 61 and know that many, many stories I have read over the years were trash. They got published either because of connections in the publishing industry or because they were written by an author who had some success with other writing, clearly not on their own merit. I also know that the stories I write are as good as half of what I’ve seen published in mainstream publishing. My problem is I may not have 10 years left to grovel for a chance and even if I do I won’t be taking that route. I would very much like to be a wealthy, successful author but don’t plan on debasing and whoring myself to get there. If I make it in the Indy-publishing world fine. If not I have met a lot of great folks since I entered the world of self-publishing and feel that alone has enriched my life.

      • IFWG Publishing  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 12:21

        And good luck to you. I genuinely hope you make it.

        I have nothing else to say regarding your words, as the elements that touch on the article are consistent with it.

        One question, though, I have made it clear that I consider there to be good (if not great) writers in the self-pub world – do you assert that a person has to debase and whore themselves to get anywhere in the tradpub world in absolute terms?

      • Joyce White
        joycewhite  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 14:28

        Hi Rick, I so agree, I’m 66. I don’t have much time either. I would rather spend my time writing than marketing. This is a choice we have to make no matter how old we are.
        I most agree with your logic concerning this matter. Joyce

  12. IFWG Publishing  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 4:34

    BTW, my intention was just to air the Grand Illusion hypothesis in my role as editor of IFWG Publishing. I have a long list of myths I want to dispel, or at least clarify, that contribute, in part, to what I believe is the Grand Illusion. Instead, my forward articles will appear under my name, Gerry Huntman, as it is more appropriate to air my views under my name, than my company.

    In the spirit of free speech, I hope that readers will tolerate a small traditional publisher – who respects self publishers but believes there are nasty flaws in the generality – to offer alternate viewpoints.

    The point of this exercise, is good, sober discussion, and, from my viewpoint, writers may have an opportunity to reassess their personal plans for their future careers. I have nothing else to gain by this.

    • Joyce White
      joycewhite  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 13:48

      Call me crazy but I enjoy the exchange of ideas and appreciate all the above comments on this subject. It is true publishing wants control of our work as do we. Which of us is to prevail in the near future? It seems to me concessions must be made on both sides to sustain footing in an ever-growing digital world. Joyce

    • Joyce White
      joycewhite  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 14:22

      G I would like to read more about what your agency considers speculative fiction. What you accept isn’t really clear to me. I read your Mani and that wasn’t really defined.
      Like they say, write what you know about. From the Wiki it seems to me speculative could be called a time-warp of somesort? Thank you. My Best Joyce

  13. gerryhuntman  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 15:03

    Hi Joyce

    Speculative fiction is a relatively recent grouping term that includes all fiction that incorporates storylines that can’t happen in real life or at least not yet. Horror, fantasy and science fiction are the most prominent genres that fall under that umbrella. It is a good catch-all for companies like mine, not just because we publish all three genres, but because it easily captures cross-genre and sub-genre literature, such as dark fantasy, urban fantasy, science-fantasy, steampunk, etc.

    Hope this helps

    G

  14. Rick Carufel  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 17:17

    Yes Gerry when on relinquishes control of their creative output to self proclaimed experts it is debasing and whoring for the hope of a modicum of fame and fortune.

  15. IFWG Publishing  Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 3:29

    Shame Rick you have that opinion. I have seen so many cases of stupendous art and fulfillment in relationships – but acknowledge there are sharks and idiots in the field at the same time. No insult intended, but making statements in absolute terms is, particularly in this case, illogical. You have clearly had some bad experiences.

  16. IFWG Publishing  Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 9:30

    Folks, thanks to a citation left by a friend on Facebook, I found a very good article on the publishing industry, touching on several topics I brought up. I present it to this discussion for two reasons: 1. the guy is fairly impartial by anyone’s standards, even the most jingoistic, and 2. he expresses some of my viewpoints a lot better. Most notably that there is a flood of indie books and it isn’t good as it stands – and interestingly, he offers the same solution/prediction as I – that eventually there will be a two-tier system, a ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ as he so aptly puts it, to enable readers a better chance than to waste their money. I also agree most other of his points, particularly the way the Big Six have made some fundamental errors.

    Here’s the link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2012/08/15/publishing-is-broken-were-drowning-in-indie-books-and-thats-a-good-thing/

    Perhaps reading a brand expert, instead of those who have emotional commitment to their modes of publishing, may help in this discussion.

    • Joyce White
      joycewhite  Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 16:10

      Hi Gerry, I read David’s article like you suggested. His article used pros and cons deliberately like a good politician. Thanks to your quote I discovered Forbes and its writers I plan to frequent now. Thanks and best of luck to your agency. Joyce

  17. Rick Carufel  Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 20:29

    I read that and was glad that Toole was used as an example of how traditional publishing is controlled by the whims and opinions of a few. I also replied in particularly to the comments about reviews and Amazon. Here’s my comment:

    Amazon is deleting thousands of reviews and we all know reviews drive sales. They give evasive answers or lies for why they are doing it. I got an email the other day from a man who had 447 reviews pulled that he had posted over a 12 year period. According to Amazon every one violated their guidelines and when questioned on it they replied, “We found your reviews to be in violation of our guidelines and have removed them. For more information, see our Conditions of Use. Because of these violations, we’ve also removed reviewing privileges from your account.” Not one of the reviews violated the conditions of use. There are twelve other reviews that were removed posted by a very nice reader on my blog along with the guidelines and I invite you to find where these reviews violate the Amazon guidelines. Amazon has stated that it would remove all paid reviews, that is except the paid reviews bought from them through Kirkus and Clarion for exorbitant prices.
    It would seem that Amazon is not content with controlling more than 50% of the ebook market they also want to control the reviews and thereby control which writers sell and which don’t. See more about this at my blog:
    http://indie-publishing.blogspot.com/2012/06/amazon-caught-in-two-lies-over-review.html

    It would seem that Forbes has declined to publish it.

  18. IFWG Publishing  Friday, August 17, 2012 at 11:06

    Be careful to use absolute terms – it reflects a poor understanding of the industry. Amazon is a publisher, but mainly among self-publishers – they are only recently getting into the ‘traditional’ space. The Big 6 have had mixed reviews with regard to certain practices, but those outside the understanding of the business have clouded vision – most are federated and good or poor decisions and relationships are dependent on individuals – in other words a mixed bag. You seem to be ignoring (like the article), the many small and middling trad publishers, many of whom do it for the love, and helping authors, because they wouldn’t be making the pittance for the work otherwise.

    It’s just too varied to generalise, and you are doing yourself a disservice as a result. When I wrote my article on self publishing, I was careful to use words like ‘some’ or ‘most’ but not ‘all’. I know there are good folk in the self publishing game, and the only difference of opinion I have with you (it seems), is that I think there are more than what you think.

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