Wednesday, November 30, 2005

We feel your pain! (sort of)

If you are not an ardent reader of Robert Gray's blog (then spank yourself three times) you very well should be.

Today's entry deals with the
Wessex Collective, which is essentially like a publishing commune. But that's not what I am here to address.

The real story is the struggle this noble group is going through to gain (bad word: they should have it by default) legitimacy in the eyes of the bookselling world.

From the blog:

"Not surprisingly, the main problem confronting our small publishing venture is the same problem that confronts individual authors who self-publish. Because we are publishing our own works the fact that most of us have been published by other companies, ranging from tiny Plain View Press in Austin, Texas to huge Random House and St. Martin's in New York, doesn't really offset the stigma that attaches to self-published authors in this country.

. . . Most of the people who focus badly needed attention on literary endeavors still refuse to take a chance on self-published work. One example: The New Pages, which used to list a literary journal published this past quarter century by one of our authors, still would not mention the novel he has written and we have published. By mistake, I received an exchange of emails between two of the New Pages editors: one said "looks a little like self-publishing to me" and the response was "looks a lot like it to me" or something to that effect. Getting past this prejudice is going to be a major hurdle."

She (Sandra Sanchez, the guest blogger) goes on to discuss how books are increasingly being "judged by their covers" and how apparently size does matter, in some cases.

These are the exact issues being dealt with among the POD world--though probably worse; the only thing more loathsome (in the eyes of the publishing world) than being self-published is having done so via POD. And something needs to break this cycle. POD and self-publishing is not about a few bad apples spoiling the bunch, it's about a sea of rotting fruit with a few shiny, red apples bobbing along in the tide.

And, as you can see, the curse of self-pubbing is taking some traditional instances with it. Instead of publishing brining up a few good vanity titles, the vanity world is starting to pull the traditional industry down. Heaven help us if we have to rely on Random, Simon & Schuster, Penguin (though they do publish some great stuff) and Warner to provide all the books in the world. Your kids will be reading COMA and THE FIRM as required reading in high school.

Do me a favor, if you don't want to try one of the POD titles listed on this blog, at least go to a local small book store--one you've never even been to--and find a salesperson and ask, "Do you have any good books you could recommend?" Then, after buying three books from publishers you've never heard of, order a copy of any title from the Wessex Collective.