Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

The View from The Top Is Usually Blind . . .


The people who enjoy the rare privilege of having a bestseller can’t usually relate to folks who write books just as good or even better, but never hit it big

Check out this quote from John Green, New York Times bestselling author

“We must strike down the insidious lie that a book is the creation of an individual soul labouring in isolation. We must strike it down because it threatens the overall quality and breadth of American literature

There is some truth in that statement but also some glaring blindness

The quote comes from an article in The Huffington Post by author Jennifer Armintrout titled, Our Exclusionary Attitudes Toward Self-Publishing Must Change.

Later in the article, she says:

“Perhaps Green didn’t think his statement would come off this way. Perhaps he was quoted out of context or his statements presented in the wrong order. Or maybe he just hasn’t thought about how exclusionary his reasoning sounded.

“Only a very small percentage of authors reach the heights of popularity that Green has. He is as much an anomaly as Hocking or Howey.”

Of course, those are Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey.

It does seem that Hugh Howey “gets it”—the “it” explored in my past post, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?, where I say:

writers can find tons of posts and articles and web sites that are based on the mistaken conception that Any book can sell like hotcakes if the author will do X, Y, Z, and, if possible, D, U, and P

I then link to the article Survivorship bias: why 90% of the advice about writing is bullshit right now.

Jennifer Armintrout goes on to say:

“I bristle at the implication that only with the help of a big six editor does a novel lose its self-indulgent aspects. Before the advent of self-publishing, there were plenty of self-indulgent novels on the shelves. It’s disingenuous to assert that only through traditional publishing are these feats of editing and marketing possible; self-published authors can hire editors, copy-editors, cover artists, and publicity teams.”

Or, they can edit it themselves, do the cover art, and work their ass off promoting the book—though, to do all that solo is as rare a feat as attaining bestseller status

Jennifer does credit John Green for speaking so warmly about working with an editor; then, later, adds:

“Suggesting that alternative methods of publishing will harm literature is the same as suggesting folk art will harm high art, or YouTube will harm television, film, and music. None of these forms of outsider creation and free market have replaced the industry that inspired them, so why do so many authors and industry professionals feel self-publishing will be ultimately destructive to the entire business?”

You might find it interesting to look at the posts I’ve written about the success of writers; but, I do need to quote a bit from one post in particular—Smoke & Mirrors ~~ How is Success Measured In Publishing? (the first quote is from Jeremy Greenfield, the rest is from me):

“At the high end of the spectrum, 1.8% of self-published authors made over $100,000 from their writing last year, compared with 8.8% of traditionally published authors and 13.2% of hybrid authors.”

“The main reason this occurs is that the numbers for self-published book sales are readily available but, in the traditional arena, the books which end up in the slush pile are left out of the monetary success reports.

“Also, the books which don’t even make it into the slush pile, those shopped-around to agents and never getting promoted to editors, are left out of the calculations

“With self-publishing, a finished book is always published and has its sales tracked.”

Yes, traditional publishing is very worried about self-publishing; but, to lie by being willfully blind to the facts is nearly unforgivable
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One response to “The View from The Top Is Usually Blind . . .

  1. Pingback: Making A Living As A Writer . . . | Notes from An Alien

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