17 June 2015

Occasionally self-publishing isn't fun

As I mentioned in my previous post, while I really love self-publishing, there are some negatives that anyone considering the route should be prepared for.  Obviously not selling or bad reviews sting, but that's a common experience for many authors.  Not having as many promotional opportunities (and some people simply refusing to read self-pub work) isn't fun either, but I'm pretty good at shrugging that off.

My most negative experience as a self-publisher was an innocuous twitter conversation.

This followed a guest post I'd contributed to the Book Smugglers' web site, where I'd listed 99 female authors.  The post was a response to the usual nonsense about how women don't write SFF.  Instead of producing a list of the same half dozen luminaries whose names seem to turn up on every list (perhaps contributing to the perception that there are few female SFF authors), I simply listed authors I had on my physical book shelves.

An Australian author* asked me why so few Australian authors (there were four) and I explained that most of my Australian books were in e-format, and thus not on the list.  [Though a lot of Australian fantasy is big-book multi-volume epic fantasy, which isn't to my taste.]

I thought nothing of the exchange until a month or so later when I noticed the same author talking about sources of information about Australian SFF authors, and speculating that there were so few Australian authors on my list due to cultural cringe.  She offered up her own list of Australian (adult SFF) authors, one she'd prepared some time before tracking Australian authors put out by mid-range and large publishers.

I suggested that the Aurealis Award nominees listed on Wikipedia would be a good source (a list I happen to be on, as a multiple finalist).  I was told that she'd started with that list, and then left off the YA and the self-publishers.

She'd taken the Aurealis Award list, and removed me from it.

This was a fantastically minor conversation, with no malice whatsoever involved, but it really brought home to me that self-publishers continue to be thought about in a separate category.  To not only be left off lists, but removed from them.

Sometimes it's the tiny comments, the smallest things, that are hardest to shrug off.

* Identity not important - this was an entirely innocuous exchange. Please no trawling through my twitter history playing detective.


  1. The thing that bothers me most about the bias against self-publishing is just how mired it is in ancient perspectives and assumptions.

    The self-publishing of various vanity presses in the twentieth century, and earlier, bears almost no comparison to the product being marketed by so many savvy and dedicated self-publishing authors in this new time.

    As something of an amateur historian I've read my share, and then some, of self-published WWII ship's histories. (A niche market, to say the least.) These works are emblematic of what I consider the strengths and weaknesses of old-style self-publishing: A topic or subject that would never have been able to find even a thousand copy print run's worth of interest could be recorded for those people who wanted to preserve their experiences; and yet the editing, both on a gross scale and at the copy editing level leave much to be desired. (I swear they read like the notes my friends and I used to pass around as teenagers recording our D&D sessions.) This is not to say such volumes are without merit, but they're amateur works, and show a distinct lack of skill or craft - and often even an ignorance of what the proper crafting should be.

    Comparing those to the several authors self-publishing these days that I pick up routinely is like night and day. The clarity of the writing shows that someone provided some editorial guidance at some point, and the quality of the copy editing surpasses that which I often see in major house publications.

    Whenever I hear people discussing the inferior quality of self-published works today, I find that these same people are basing their assumption on works they've never read, and won't read. And refuse to see how far up their asses they've twisted themselves.

    I don't know what the solution is other than to shake one's head at the stubbornness of some people, and the desire to hold on to outdated assumptions.

  2. Wow! That person is an idiot. Your writing is fantastic in more than one sense of the word, and you were on the list. I think it is kind of you to not tell us her name, because I would like to tell her what I think and would probably be rude about it.


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