I guess you saw the comments by bestselling author Sue Grafton about self-published authors. If not, you should! During an interview with a local newspaper, she said- “that’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work”. The self-published books she has read are “often amateurish”, she said, comparing self-publishing “to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall”. According to Grafton, Becoming an author is about hard work: “taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time”. Having had her first three novels rejected, she said she sees “way too many writers who complete one novel and start looking for the fame and fortune they’re sure they’re entitled to”. She added “To me, it seems disrespectful … that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research,” said Grafton. “Learning to construct a narrative and create a character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not a quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in shortcuts when it comes to the arts.”
Adam Croft, a British self-published thriller author who says he has sold 250,000 copies of his books in the last year, called Grafton’s belief that taking the DIY route was lazy “outrageous”. “The complete opposite is true,” he said. “Self-publishing means finding your own proofreader, finding your own editor, finding your own cover designer (or designing your own), doing all your own marketing and sales work, etc. Having a publisher is lazy as all you need to do is write a half-acceptable book and allow your publisher’s editor to make it sales-worthy. Self-publishers must do it all – we have no one else to pick up the slack.”
After the uproar which followed her comments, Grafton has since backed off, telling her local paper that she “meant absolutely no disrespect for e-publishing and indie authors” and that she was “uninitiated when it comes to this new format”.
As much as Ms. Grafton’s comments insulted all of us in self-publishing, we all also know she is not alone in these opinions. In truth many “old time” authors probably feel exactly the same way. This is exactly why indieBRAG exists – we are finding the self-published books that are in every way as good – and often better – than those traditionally published. It is a fact that most of us have read traditionally published books and found mistakes but by having the publishing “machine” behind them these error are not that frequent.
Here is the painful part – in many, perhaps most instances Ms. Grafton is right. As a company dedicated to shining a light on deserving self-published books this is not a pleasant thing to admit. Our indieBRAG reading teams have literally read hundreds of books and have found that only about 15% are worthwhile
There are 3 distinct levels of published books –
Traditionally published books
Self-published books that have been written by authors who have put in the time –and often money- to publish an enjoyable book well worth a readers time and money
Self-published books published because they can be – and shouldn’t!
It is our job now to educate authors and readers alike that self-publishing does not mean lazy and uneducated, it just means that those worthy books are often buried in the great heap of books that probably should never seen the light of day!
I hope you will all continue to support the work we are doing to provide a reading audience with well written, well edited, well conceived books that tell the kind of stories we love to read: the diamonds in the vast coal heap of self-publishing!