18 June 2009

Should I Seek Publication? Should You?

This blog post was brought to my attention recently, and has really got me to thinking about where the publishing industry is right now, and where it's headed in light of the digital age.

With so many printing services available exclusively online, with Amazon's CreateSpace being a popular one right now, what's to stop anyone and everyone from digging out their old journals and "publishing" a book?

Jessica says:

I think one of the problems the Internet has created for publishing is that everyone thinks every book written deserves to be published, and let's face it, that's just not true. I'm not saying that the people the reader was talking about have no business being published ever, but I do imagine there are a lot of books written that aren't ready to be queried and may never be ready to be queried. The problem often is that there is no way to know that until you actually try.

Do you agree? Should everyone with a story be able to "publish" it? I'm sure you've come across books that you've wanted to chuck across the room (I have!), but does that mean they shouldn't have been published?

Your first instinct may be to say (or shout) "Yes! It does mean that! The book should never have left the trunk!" But consider this: not everything you write will be enjoyed by everyone who reads it. There may be someone who comes across your story and wants to chuck it across the room. And in the same city, there may be someone who touts your story and encourages anyone and everyone to read it. So who's right?

Maybe there are books that shouldn't be published, but then who decides which books should make it out of the slush pile, and which should be sent to the shredder? What makes one book worth reading while another should be used to prop up the short leg of the couch?

What do you think makes a book worth reading?

If you had a DeLorean, what book (or books) would you snatch away before it made it to bookshelves? Why?



  1. I published through createspace and I think if you want to put a book out there, then you should. Not all books are good books, but that's up to the reader to decide. Also, if my book sells decently, then it's possible that a publishing house will pick it up, but I want the chance to see how it does before I get rejection letters.
    I think a book that's worth reading is a book that makes you turn the pages. If it doesn't make you keep going, it's not a good book. Isn't the point of reading to find out what happens on the next page?
    If I could see any book taken back, it would be anything by J.R. Ward and Victor Hugo. Hugo's dry and J.R. Ward is pornographic. But if you like that kind of thing, more power to you.

  2. As subjective a thing as whether a book deserves to be published is probably best answered by the persons reading it. I think it's great that folks like Kell have a place to "try out" their manuscripts. Not all that long ago, the only way a book could reach a mass audience was through the publishing houses. Now, there are alternate means.

    As for your question, Steven J. Gould's Rock Of Ages comes to mind. I wasted several hours reading it, looking for something the least bit profound amidst all the wankery.

  3. Thanks for the input. I agree that it is a subjective topic, but I think what frustrates me is that all the work (and money and education) I've put into my writing somehow feels...cheapened (for lack of a better word)...if it's so easy to become an "author."

  4. Should everyone with a dtory be able to publish it? Absolutly. Does that make every published story worth reading? Certainly not.

    The advantage that publishing though a publishing house is that they will generally know if there is a market for the work. And if there is a sufficent market they will work with the author(s) to make it the best book possible for that market. And so the author(s) earn an income and the publishing house makes a profit on their investment. Of course, it doesn't always work out so well, but that's principle, and the desire of all parties involved.

    The disadvantage is that the publishing house may evaluate the market to be too small to be worth their while, so the book is not published. In that regard, self-publishing is useful. If the author is prepared to invest money in their work, after having invested their time producing the work, and publish... Well, that's their right.

    Of course, the book may not have been picked up by a publisher because it is crap. And the author, convinced of their own merit as a writer, self-publishes anyway. Again, that's their right.

    Though it may be easy to become an "author", that ought not in anyway be seen as cheapening the craft of writing. There's plenty of crap that does get published - anything by Danielle Steel, for example - but one does not usually see the successful selling of crap as cheapening the craft. Markets are markets, after all, and though sometimes there is no accounting for taste, the development of the craft is reward in itself. And people who value good writing tend to seek it out. If one does not publish, be in house or by oneself, then such people certainly won't find one's work.

    Each to their own.

  5. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Stephen!

    I do agree with you that "markets are markets," and that's a point I sometimes forget. I guess I'm a bit of an elitist when it comes to fiction and literature.


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