“…there’s certainly no need for hostility. The title of the piece asks a question…is it opinion or fact that self-publishing is out of control? I just don’t understand the anger that’s been generated by this article. Not at all.”
He had to clarify several times that he was not the author of the article (even thought that was stated at the end), and that he did not necessarily agree with the opinion. He writes:
“These folks sent me an article that I thought was an interesting viewpoint. I may not agree with everything in it, but nonetheless found it to be controversial, to say the least. And that makes for good conversation and debate…normally.”
He ends the comment by stating:
“My plan was to debunk this article by following up with success stories from those who’ve enjoyed self-publishing. However, I think I’ll pass. It’s much safer dealing with robbers and serial killers than it is to deal with angry authors.”
I want to say that I understand Mr. Lofland’s experience. I once published a post here entitled: “Indie authors are rude, pushy, completely self-absorbed, and their books suck.” I stated this was something I did not write but rather something I read in a post by somebody else. However, some readers thought I had written it myself. A few commenters started using insults, and I had to remind people to keep the debate civil. Although the title of my post was much more inflammatory than the one in Mr. Lofland’s website, you see this phenomenon quite often. Publish a post critical of self-publishing, or of Indies, or a post defending traditional publishing, and you will have a horde of angry people overrunning your comments section. Why is this?
I think part of the explanation is that there is a lot of resentment “out there.” I have been frequenting the world of blogs for about a year and I have already read dozens of horror stories of bad experiences writers have had with agents and publishers. When many of these authors read anything resembling a defense of the old order they seethe. However, even among writers who have not had outright bad experiences with traditional publishing there is a growing awareness of the rotten deal that they really got when they signed their contracts. If you are (or were) traditionally published and you still don’t feel this way, check out Joe Konrath’s posts on this matter (Exploited writers in an unfair industry, Pricing books and e-books, and Unconscionability). He is a bit intense, but he puts forth some very good arguments.
Another part of the explanation is that the POD and e-book revolution has meant emancipation for writers. We are no longer stuck with having to bow our heads before the publishing establishment. We don’t have to work for them anymore accepting meager royalties, lopsided contracts, or their assessment of whether we are “good enough” to be published. We have tasted the freedom of independence, and we like it. So when someone comes along suggesting that there was something good about the old system and there are some things wrong with the new system, the reaction is predictable. If self-publishing is “out of control” then who is supposed to control it? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, hint, hint… Any suggestion that remotely resembles giving any measure of power back to the old masters will be met with derision.
That is why many self-published authors are often perceived, in the words of a recent post by Nathan Bransford, to have a “chip on their shoulders.” Although I am all for being nice, I think it is perfectly understandable.
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