Way back in the mind-1990s I interviewed the CEO of a big, traditional publishing house. That house had just gobbled up a smaller publisher. We talked about that, and I mused aloud about huge publishing conglomerates and publishing itself turning into a giant black hole.
I was reminded of that when I read this article, Michael_Levin: Why Book Publishers Hate Authors. Michael Levin explains where we are, all those years later. Books have long been a commodity to publishing houses, and :
“If publishers can commoditize writing, they’re no longer at the mercy of unruly, unmanageable and unpredictable writers. They can lower their costs, they can guarantee that their schedules will be adhered to, and they can keep the trains running on time.
The problem is that they destroy the uniqueness and creativity that readers expect when they buy a book. As the quality of books diminishes, book buyers are less likely to turn to books the next time they need to get information about a given topic. They’ll go to Wikipedia, they’ll do a Google search, they’ll phone a friend. But they won’t buy another book.”
Publishing houses are destroying books. The destruction started a couple of decades ago. After I’d interviewed the CEO, I knew that I would never again try to get a publishing contract from a major publisher.
At the time, the Web had just been created; I’d been online since the mid-1990s. I was giving business presentations called: “The Internet and the Age of Creativity.” I saw then that soon anyone who had anything to say would be able to say it to a worldwide audience, no publishing ink needed.
So here we are. You don’t need publishers to publish your books. You just need a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit, and judging by the number of self-published books on Amazon, many writers have that spirit.
The big reason to self-publish: you’ll be able to respect yourself
Around 2000, “ebooks” were the big thing for many writers.( That fizzled, until Amazon came along with the Kindle a couple of years ago.)
At that time, publishing houses demanded that authors use ALL their advance, and as much money as they could scrape up besides, to promote their books. I shook my head, ground my teeth, and stopped reading authors’ forums and mailing lists. It was too depressing. In 2000, authors were subsidizing publishers.
I knew that none of those authors would ever make a cent from their books. By now, I hope that those authors have their rights to their books back, and are publishing them on Amazon.
Those authors were desperate to sell their books, so they lost their self-respect.
For me, that’s the major reason to self-publish. At least you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning.