Friday, May 19, 2006

May We See Yor Papers, Please?

So, nobody's buying my comparison of self-publishing and illegal immigration?

Consider this:

Regardless of merit, most self-pubbies, like most undocs, think they DESERVE it.

"It" being all the rights, benefits and respect of publication or citizenship, respectively.

In both cases, there are regular channels which may, unfortunately, take an oppressively long time, but most self-pubbies and undocs hope to bypass all that by doing a runaround, dissing the very system they actually want to be considered part of.

In both cases, there may be actual legit reasons for jumping the queue, but they're fewer and farther between than most are willing to admit.

In both cases, far too many people are blinded by their sense of entitlement, and a certain amount of denial.

For example:

"I think self-publishing is the pulps of our generation."

Nope, millions of people actually read the pulps each month. Most self-pubbed novels sell less than a hundred copies in their lifetime. And often half of those are bought by the authors themselves.

Unless, of course, you're comparing the quality of the vast majority of self-pubbed books with the quality of the vast majority of pulp stories that -- Black Mask, Amazing Stories, Dime Detective et al notwithstanding -- were pretty dreadful.

I've actually gone into the archives and read some of those old pulp stories, and man, they WERE awful. Mind you, they were often still better written (and edited) than most of the self-pubbed books I've read.

"If you've written eight or more novels and have been completely roadblocked by 5+ more years of rejection..."

Maybe it's time to figure out why... eight books in five years? Doesn't leave much time for editing, does it?

"If anything, self publishing is the talk radio of publishing."

Granted, there is a Rush Limbaugh quality to far too many of the self-pubbed books I've read -- a mean-spirited sense of moral superiority and entitlement (plus a whiff of paranoia); a sort of pre-emptive bite at the hand they want to eventually feed them.

"There's a small number of houses that control publishing, not letting anything they don't like get published."

And what they don't like, mostly, it seems, is books that don't sell (and bad writing).

"Self publishers get different viewpoints out to the public, doing what the publishing houses say they do bu don't."

If you're talking fiction, I can count on one hand the number of original viewpoints I've come across in self-pubbed novels. Most self-pubbed books I've read suffer from being too much like everything else; not from being too different.

What are the different "viewpoints" being suppressed by the big publishers? And are they really being suppressed, or do they just think they're not sellable? Over the last few years, major publishers have published the non-fiction rantings of everyone from good ol' pill-popping Rush and Bill O'Reilly to Michael Moore. And fiction probably has an even wider range.

Look, I'm not saying there are NO good reasons to take these short cuts, but in the vast majority of cases it seems to me that impatience and an avoidance of scrutiny, be it editorial or bureaucratic, seem to be the dominant factors. Yet, in both cases, it's the self-righteous cries of unfairness that seem to be heard the loudest -- and cause so much hostility.

Let's face it -- for all the complaints and self-serving rhetoric, nobody really wants to abolish the system (or the country) -- they just want to be part of it... RIGHT NOW. Because they think they deserve it.

Think about it:

Publication=citizenship
Legal immigration can take a long time, if it comes at all.
Traditional publication can take a long time, if it comes at all.


Therefore,
Editors=immigrant officials
Vanity presses=coyotes
Impatience and a sense of entitlement=impatience and a sense of entitlement
The submission process=the submission process.

Mind you, it could legitamately be argued that some illegal immigrants have made great contributions to their host countries. Most self-pubbed novelists over the last few decades haven't exactly contributed much to literature, although they sure have made a lot of noise about it...

Hmmmm... Imagine a half million of them marching in downtown Los Angeles, demanding to be published?

6 Comments:

Blogger Graham said...

To address a common gripe of the self-published, I think there is some great fiction out there that isn't commercial, and thus has a tough time getting picked up, but there's not that much of it.

As for immigration, I'm a fan of LEGAL immigration. The extreme difficulty of immigrating legally is one reason so many choose to do it illegally. So I think we should make legal immigration somewhat easier and illegal immigration much tougher.

3:39 PM, May 19, 2006  
Blogger glen davis said...

Going by your arguments of self entitlement, etc., the real illegal immigrants of publishing are those who masquerade fiction as fact, because as fiction, their stuff leaves much to be desired, like Rigoberta Menchu and that guy who fooled Oprah.

The publishing houses don't always know what's going to sell, and just because something doesn't sell doesn't mean it isn't good. On your own site, you say Max Allan Collins is having trouble finding a publisher for his series. Is he any worse a writer than he was in 1976, 1986, or 1996?

4:28 PM, May 19, 2006  
Blogger JD Rhoades said...

Kevin, how many illegals have you actually dealt with in real life?

4:33 PM, May 19, 2006  
Anonymous Robert S.P. Lee said...

I deal with illegals every day.

ALL OF YOU!

hahahahahahah (oh, did I mention I'm Native American?)

that's why it funny. :-)

I did the self-pub thing on a small level as more of a calling card. Like handing out a business card.

It was after the Toronoto B-Con I decided to do it.

C'mon, going to a B-Con with nothing to pimp just plain sucked!

So I took what I had, art background, some fiction that I thought was good ( so did the people that either purchased or accepted a free copy) put a book together, and said what the hey. It did open doors that were not open before.

I was on a self-pub panel in Chi-town B-Con. Met people who respected my opinion on why I did and went this route, and generally learned how to sell myself to folk I'd might not have dealt with before. (Bill Pronzini loved 4 or 5 stories from the book. The man bought a copy! I was rather pleased.)

Did I make a grip? No. But I would not trade the experience for anything. But, I'm not the norm for people who self-pub. I am good enough to go the regular route, just have to finish my book to do that.

speaking of which........

8:43 PM, May 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anthony Durrant said...

Harry Spilman, the P.I. whom I mentioned in my e-mails to you, Mr. Smith, has the distinction of being the first P.I. to appear on any form of the internet. Although the NABU network, the corporation that held his copyright ownership, has been out of business for years, he is still under copyright protection and will be for the remainder of both of our lifetimes.

1:06 PM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Uh, thanks for sharing, Anthony.

9:09 PM, May 24, 2006  

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