Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

You Wouldn’t Be Trying To Mislead Me, Would You?

The #Danger of Being a #Critic

People have been trying to mislead me for at least 60 years—how about you?

Way back between my Saturday cartoons the ads promised me a lot more fun than any cereal could ever hope to provide

A bit later, the ads in the back of the comic books lured me into begging money from my parents for an Ant Farm—thin clear-plastic box with sand in it, separate cardboard tube with the ants, and a message that the ants were asleep and would wake when I put them in the sand—I waited for a few days—they were indeed dead

Luckily, the first girl I was sweet on warned me that every girl did Not want chocolates

There were thousands more attacks on my credulity; then, in my forties, I began to find certain things that stayed true no matter what I thought.

So, there’s this survey claiming to show the preferences of writers for either traditional or self-publishing.

The Los Angeles Times article about the survey begins with:

“Writers prefer to be published by a traditional publisher over self-publishing. Go figure.”

That happens to be a statement that’s misleading to the max—how did they find out what all writers prefer?

Then, they attempt to cover the misleading pontification with misdirection:

“More than 9,000 authors responded to questions about the publishing industry in a report to be issued next week. Of the writers surveyed, 57.8% said they’d rather go the traditional route with their next book than try self-publishing.

“These aren’t just old-fashioned authors. That percentage includes writers who have been both self-published and traditionally published. What’s more, the survey was conducted by Writers Digest and Digital Book World — which certainly captures people interested in digital publishing.”

9,000 authors is probably enough to show some kind of trend, right?

But wait… what kind of authors are these 9,000 souls?

An article about the survey in Digital Book World says:

“The survey sample is a non-scientific sample, since it is voluntary rather than a random sample. The authors, most of whom responded after receiving a notification from Writer’s Digest about the survey, may not be representative of the population of authors.”

They also say:

“The majority of respondents to the survey were aspiring authors who had not yet published a manuscript…”

That last statement should make any person who’s been severely misled in their lives consider that all the other numbers and pseudo-scientific pronouncements about the survey are rubbish.

Something rather surprising about the author of the article in Digital Book World is that they’re “…Professor of Sociology at Queens College – CUNY…” where they direct “…the MA Program in Data Analytics and Applied Social Research.”

Perhaps they got paid really well for lending their credentials to such sloppy surveying

I truly hope writers aren’t taken in by attempts like this.

I can’t avoid quoting one more statement that goes even further into the realm of fantasy surveys:

“The greatest preference for traditionally publishing was reported by traditionally published authors (87.2%) followed by not-yet-published authors (76.8%).”

Are they hoping that big percentages will prove that “Writers prefer to be published by a traditional publisher over self-publishing.”, in spite of the fact that those who’ve already been accepted by legacy publishers and those who’ve never been published might just not be the folks who can be relied on to help decide what most writers want??

There are a few true statements in that article but the effect is somewhat like those commercials between the cartoons—Yep, this is Really cereal!!!

So, if you happen to be the kind of person who lets their opinion be swayed by names like the Los Angeles Times, Writer’s Digest, and Digital Book World, you can also be misled by Forbes

Finally, if you happen to find out what most writers prefer, would you let me know?
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6 responses to “You Wouldn’t Be Trying To Mislead Me, Would You?

  1. Silver Moon Unicorn January 13, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to go with a traditional publisher-I like the control I have over my books. I’m not sure about other writers. Some aren’t able to deal with the technical side of publishing and so they come to small publishing houses, like mine, so they don’t have to worry about that part. I have heard some say (in one way or another) that they want to be published by a traditional publisher.


  2. Martina Sevecke-Pohlen January 13, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    My feelings and experiences are the same as Silver Moon Unicorn’s. Quite a few authors feel overwhelmed by the decisions they have to make when they self-publish. Others, like me, love the freedom.


  3. Once January 13, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    When I read Austen’s novels or those of Dickens, while I was aware that both might have hoped to be “liked” rather than despised so far as their content was concerned, it was patently obvious to me that in either case, their purpose in writing was both to create a thing of beauty and to express something of a truth, the which brought them great joy in the writing along with the conviction that they presumed readers in their times might joy to see expressed.

    Outside the academic world, it seems to me that it was not until the advent of the 20th Century that writers considered their own desire to be liked, personally, as an adjunct to the wealth they created for themselves in being published.

    There are still writers like Austen and Dickens who write to express a truth or two, but far more of them write [or so it seems to me] to be published and through their published work to be “known” and admired by ever greater numbers of devotées. With my own pleasure in writing, aside from the sheer joy and wonder of writing, there is always the thought that my own ëgo would be flattered if somehow my work were to be published and published successfully. However, weighed against one another, writing for the pleasure of writing always wins out over the desire to actually publish my work [aside from my postings on WordPress] when I consider what others go through for the sake of publishing for any other motive, and almost always, when I read great writers of any kind, those that strike me as wondrous in result I suspect would write what they write even if there were no hope of publishing. Many of them have said so, if they can be believed after they have been successfully published.


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