Beyond Thunderdome

By Evangeline Jennings

A long time ago – Monday – on a website faraway, an anonymous employee of Harper Collins posted a short article entitled SELF PUBLISHING AS A STEPPING STONE.

The gist appeared to be that the old “traditional publishing” model is dying and new authors need to audition for agents and publishers by self-publishing and proving the demand for their “product”. The word “incubator” was used – proving that at least one person in publishing has no clue.

In science, an incubator is used to grow and maintain microbiological cultures. In business, it’s a program designed to support and develop start-up businesses. Typically,  an incubator program will offer services that include help with business basics including accounting and financial management, coaching or mentoring, networking, marketing, access to loans and investors, and links to strategic partners.

I think I must have missed all that nurturing on the Kindle forums.

From the perspective of the agent or publisher, self-publishing is not an incubator. It’s Thunderdome. On an industrial scale. One hundred thousand self-published writers enter. One woman leaves.

Whatever. I don’t consider writing to be a gladiatorial sport.

Every time I read one of these articles, no matter the perspective or argument, I end up reminding myself that no one really has a clue and there are many paths to the mountain top. I also remember that the people who are professionally engaged in publishing are the ones with the most to lose and more reason to be frightened of changes they don’t understand and can’t control.

This tends to make me forgiving of their inanities but I’m really not prepared to forgive this:

The perception of the traditional publishing world is that all writers get paid lots of money to sit around writing while someone else does all the hard work and takes on all the debt and responsibility, but it’s just not the reality any more. If you want your book to succeed, regardless of your route to publishing it, you will have to invest in it. If you won’t, no one else will.

Of course there are debates to be had about the modern publishing model, but the off hand implication that writing a book is the easy bit and the hard work only begins when a publisher deigns to take an interest? Well, as my coach and mentor Ice Cube once said: Fuck that shit, homie. Ditto the inference that devoting thousands of hours to writing a novel isn’t an investment.

/Rant over

/Or is it?

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