Authors Who Reject Publishers

8

There’s been a lot of talk recently about traditionally published novelists rejecting their publishers and releasing their books themselves. I can see that these novelists don’t like making a pittance on their books, but it seems churlish to dump the very people who made them a success.

Without the publicity departments of those publishing houses behind them, there is little chance that these authors would have ever attained their current popularity. If you are one among millions of unknown writers trying to sell your book to an unaware reading public, it doesn’t matter if your book is stellar. It cannot shine without readers.

Many authors have the idea that wonderful books will always find a readership. Once that might have been true, but in today’s book world, where anyone with a computer and bit of time on their hands can write a novel (sometimes in only a few weeks, including editing — yikes) the sheer numbers of available books can keep even a great book from rising above the flotsam.

Interestingly enough, only a couple of these once traditionally published authors wrote truly original novels. If the rest had to make their own way in the ocean of ebooks and self-published books, they would have not have found much of a readership. The major publishers want what I call blue-jeans books — books that are made from the same fabric as all the others in a genre but with a slightly different styling. They don’t want anything too original because it is hard to sell. (I had several editors tell me they loved Light Bringer, my latest novel, but they turned it down because they didn’t know how to sell it. Second Wind Publishing accepted it and it was published last March.) The blue jeans quality that makes books acceptable to editors of major publishing houses is the very quality that makes them unremarkable in the self-publishing or independent publishing world.

I don’t have much use for the traditional publishers, so I don’t really care that these authors are shunning them, but it does give new writers a false idea of can be accomplished by going it alone. The very fact that these authors are dumping their publishers is news. Publicity, in other words. And it’s only newsworthy because readers know their names. And readers know their names because the authors had the benefit of a big corporation’s publicity department.

I might have been unaware of the situation, but one of these authors contacted me via Goodreads, asking me to be part of a promotional effort. He wrote that he’d send me (along with hundreds of others) an ebook if I promised to write a review and post it on a given date. I turned him down. I don’t like his books, and I don’t like being told when to post a review. Not that I would — I still have not learned the art of reviewing books. And if I did do reviews, I’d post reviews of books released by small, independent publishers. The point is, he sent me the ebook anyway. A story about vampires. Sheesh. Still doing the old blue-jeans dance.

I purposely did not mention any names in this bloggery since I don’t want to help promote the authors. And anyway, it doesn’t matter who they are. I certainly don’t care, and there’s a chance in the not-too-distant future no one else will either.

8 Comments
  1. Jack Eason says

    Pat,
    The day it became possible for literally anyone to publish, a whole new can of worms was opened. For every one readable work, there are literally thousands that aren’t. One day, hopefully very soon, the world of self publishing will finally settle down. The onus is really on the publishing platforms to sift out the good from the downright diabolical.

    😀

    1. patbertram says

      People hail this as a new era for writers, but I’m much more pessimistic. I see it as the beginning of the end. There will always be a handful of authors who manage to make a fortune off of writing, but the rest of us will get buried under the landslide of published books, whether traditionally published or self-published.

  2. Paul Collins says

    The Canadian publishing scene is perplexing and filled with irony. The local grant agency gives the author a grant if they publish through a local publisher. The provincial based grant agency gives a grant to authors who publish within the province and to publishers who publish authors in the province. The main national grant agency gives Canadian authors a grant if they publish in Canada and Canadian publishers are given a grant if they publish Canadian based authors. Even the countries only major book chain gets a grant from all three agencies for selling Canadian based authors. How to get connected with such a circuit requires connections. I have actually met persons who had a lit agent but never published anything in their life, nor wrote anything, but had an idea, and of course were connected. I explained to an American publisher and they said they never got any grants at all from any level of government. The ironic thing about Canada is with all the grants a major Canadian pub, Key Porter, still went bankrupt. Government grants make publishers less aggressive but the Canadian publishers, I am told, are concentrated on quality, not booksales. The online book approach is refreshing. By the way, anybody heard of http://www.ralan.com, a database of large and small publishers, who publish full length stories and short stories.
    Paul Collins
    author of
    Mystery of Everyman’s Way/ Mack Dunstan’s Inferno

    1. patbertram says

      And I thought the United States’ way was complicated!! I wonder if it will matter in the future — we will probably all drown in the masses of books on the market today.

  3. Smoky Zeidel says

    Amen, amen, amen! I have wanted to say this very thing on my blog for weeks now, but have not had the time to do so. Instead, at least once every day, I tweet, “I’m proud to be an author with Vanilla Heart Publishing” or some such thing. I am so grateful to have a publisher who has my back–provided I work hard myself. People mistakenly think all authors should do is write–marketing is up to someone else. Baloney. It isn’t that way in the Big 6; it isn’t that way for the small presses. Whether you self publish or small press publish or Big 6 publish, your work is just beginning when the book is released. I’ll get off my soapbox now!

    1. patbertram says

      People see these once-major authors self-publishing and get the wrong idea about how easy it is to promote. We can all get front page coverage in a major newspaper, can’t we? I wish. There are some great self-published books, and there are some really great promoters, but for the most part, self-published authors have a hard time of it — mostly because they fudge on the editing. Yikes.

      I’m like you — very glad I am an author with an independent publishing company, in my case, Second Wind Publishing.

  4. Peter says

    The people who made those writers a success is themselves, not the publishers.

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