Recently, I was at a conference that I feel sure a few self published writers attended. There were some comments made by an agent and a moderator about how unprofessional self publishing is, and how it's always been around but professional writers will always go the "real" way.
I feel for this post to matter I need to point out that I'm not self published, and that while it's tempting I'm not really sure I ever will be self published.
I do editing for people. I've edited for traditionally published writers, self published writers, and unpublished writers. Some of the stuff I've read has been really good, some not. I didn't say some of the stuff I receive from the traditionally published has been really good (though some of it has). I said some of the stuff I see is awesome, and some isn't.
If you jumped over with me from P-52, you probably know I also read. A lot. To date, most of what I've read (other than what I'm sent) has been traditionally published because I don't own an e-reader. My vision isn't great, and with no e-reader print is just the best option for me. You can't usually buy self published books in the store, and I don't shop online so in an industry controlled by a select few, most of what I read is traditionally published. And I have read some really bad traditionally published books. Last year I did 52 book reviews. This year my goal was to review 30 books, and even though I've read way more than 30 books, I've reviewed a handful. I quit doing negative reviews. And while I always make an effort to give balanced reviews if my list of annoyances is longer than my love list I just won't review it. Now having read more than 30 books and only having reviewed five, I'm sure you can guess that I read more than one traditionally published book I didn't feel okay reviewing. But it gets more complicated than that. I read a book that was expected to do fairly well. It jumped from first person to third person for whole sections with no warning it would do so and the sections had no rhyme or reason. It felt like the writer needed to convey something mc couldn't know, so she'd just jump heads. Wow. I went to another signing where the writer got confused by their own writing! I never talk about these things on my blog. I'm not out to insult anyone, or their work. And I'm not out to make enemies. But lots of book bloggers also write. And lots of writers know that they can't be too harsh about a book that may have really had some things wrong with, because they may need to work with that editor. And so traditionally published books, that I have to pay $15-$20 for may not be fairly reviewed. While on the flip-side, a self published book that you usually pay less than $8 and often less than $3 for is overly criticized, because the notion is it must be bad or it would have been traditionally published. The reviewer opens it with the expectation of mistakes, and when you look for something, you usually find it. Not to mention the reviewer probably won't have to work with the editor in the future.
I'd also like to point out that not all books are self published because they couldn't be traditionally published. There are many good reasons to self publish. I have a fairly complex YA ms out right now. Some people like it. Some don't. But some people would like to see it altered in a way that will make integral changes to the story. I'm not sure I'm okay with that. And I know there are some things about the book that I will not change, not even if it means keeping it on my hard drive. I have respect for a writer who chooses to self publish and be true to the story they wrote, over rewriting for one person. Sorry, I just do. (I need to say I'm not advocating no one ever make revisions. That's not what I mean, but I think there comes a time when you as the artist know when something is too far from your vision to work).
I'd like to see changes in the blogosphere reflect changes in the industry. I really do think it's okay to be critical of the self published as long as you review the traditionally published by the same standard. And I'd like to see writer/blogger circles move away from the view that the self published couldn't otherwise be published.