The other day I ran across a blog written by a traditionally published author who was lamenting how self-published authors clog up social media outlets by endlessly promoting their books.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time I’ve seen or heard similar declarations. It seems some of the traditionally published authors (those who have an agent and publishing house) find it easy to toss out broad accusations that add more fuel to the fire that self-published authors are some lesser form of writers.
Those broad statements aren’t warranted and they aren’t fair.
Just because someone landed an agent and a contract with a publishing house, doesn’t mean their writing skill and talent is automatically better than someone who is self-published. What it means is they have taken different routes to reach the same destination: to publish their works, to share their creativity, to bare a little of their souls to their readers.
I personally have seen any number of traditionally published authors share one after another annoying posts about their books, their book signings, their fabulous talents and how clever and smart they are. I’ve seen an equal number of self-published authors doing the same thing. How their works were published is irrelevant to the problem. The issue is that they need some lessons in social media etiquette.
I’ll agree that there are any number of self-published books that are awful, truly awful. Some lack basic writing skills, some have never been proofed, some have no story line or plot, and some lack character development. But for every awful self-published book, there is an equally terrible traditionally published book – which, in my mind, is even worse because an agent and a publisher both read through the book and thought it was good enough to earn a contract, be published and promoted. One of the worst books I’ve ever read came from a well-known publishing house with three seasoned authors contributing to the effort. It was, in fact, the book that made me think “I can do better than this,” and set me down the road of writing my first novel.
So let’s not go around lumping everyone into categories and looking down our noses at people who have chosen to take a different path. Different isn’t wrong – just different.
It so often feels like it is one side being pitted against the other – traditional vs. self-published. I, for one, don’t see why it needs to be this way at all. Why can’t we all support and encourage each other. Instead of pushing someone down and belittling their efforts, why aren’t we instead lifting them up and offering our help, sharing our experience, regardless of how our books were published.
My words of wisdom to traditionally published authors today would be to show a little grace to your self-published counterparts. They put sweat, blood and tears into their work every bit as much as you have into yours. Yes, they have jumped into something new and unchartered, but don’t hold that against them and don’t be frightened by it.
To the self-published authors out there, don’t be jealous of the traditionally published authors. They don’t just magically get picked up and offered contracts. That happens because of their hard work and talents. Their work is professional and finished. Make yours the same – invest in proofreaders, editors, cover designers. If you don’t know how to promote your book, learn from one of the many resources available online. Take a class in social media for businesses. Act like the professional you are and others will treat you as such.
I don’t see other writers, regardless of the way their works were published, as competitors. I prefer to think of them as allies, friends, potential teachers or mentors.
If you are a good writer, it shouldn’t matter what means you use to see your book published.
The important thing is that your voice has been shared.