(Publishing) They're getting scared! We're gaining on them!
But now that the Kindle and other e-readers rule the roost and CreateSpace/Lightning Source routes make it possible for authors to be published independently of the Machine (and when most publishing is controlled by a mega-corporation that sees books as interchangeable widgets and only wants to put out "more best-sellers" from the mold of the most recent hit), they're getting frantic. Yet another "of course they aren't REAL" statement comes out of the Huffington Prattle, I mean Post. (A glorified blog, IMHO. They have a larger readership, but ultimately they're just a blog like this one. Where are their "credentials" as far as being the all-knowing ones? Nowheresville, man.)
Their latest article, "Are Self-published Authors Really Authors?" is tarring us with the same old brush. It's "poisoning the well" of the usual stripe. This is coming from the traditional publishing houses, who have now followed the Hollywood formula to put out ONLY works they're sure will bring in money (even if they don't). Readers grow weary of seeing nothing on the shelves but clones of the Same Old Thing with nothing original about them and fan fiction with the serial numbers rubbed off (and sometimes not even that).
Their business model is failing, and they don't know what to do other than advance the usual ad hominem arguments. "If we didn't publish them, then they're not worthy of being published and read!" they cry, like the boyfriend who said, "You're not pretty and you're not good enough for me, and no one will ever love you!"
The remaining "Big Five" publishers have always mocked anyone who took an alternative route, although they were not above picking up books that caught on after the writer sold books out of his or her trunk and did all the promotion on his or her own dime. They sniff at us if we're not one of their anointed few, but maybe they're NOT the most perfect things in the world themselves. Who made them demigods and rulers over all print? The public "bowed to their wisdom" for years. Now that wisdom has failed. Look at the recording/music industry and how it has fragmented into vertical markets rather than having a nationwide Top Ten list of singles that "everybody" is listening to on every radio station. They weren't ready for change, and it overwhelmed them and passed them by. Readers will do what music fans did. We are ready for CHOICES.
Why isn't there room for both traditional publishing and Indie publishing? If a book is not going to appeal to the broadest swath of readers, that doesn't mean it isn't of literary value and of interest to its audience. Most works will find an audience. If someone wants to publish independently, that shouldn't make the "pros" nervous . . . unless the indie stuff is threatening their pocketbooks.
Authors were once completely at the mercy of the old ways--agents who took 15% just to keep you from being taken advantage of (but didn't always succeed), contracts that grabbed all electronic rights in perpetuity for free, book launches that didn't even reach bookstores before getting returned and pulped (and books that stayed on the shelves for six weeks at the most, getting no publicity and no push from the publishing house). Now authors have a choice. If they feel they can get the word out about their books, and they are confident the books are good and properly copyedited and ready for prime time, they now have an alternative route. Where's the threat in that? You said you didn't want it, buddy boy. Why should you be able to say that if YOU don't take us to prom, you will prevent us from going at all?
Billie Sue Mosiman writes, "Now we are free and with freedom comes chaos sometimes, but in the end I will want the freedom over being without choice."