That’s something that’s preyed on my mind for over a year now: Why do some authors, and wanna-be authors, come down so hard on the self publishing/indy publishing movement? It’s a question I’ve had no answer to, until recently. To illustrate, though, I feel the need to tell you a boring story.
Growing up I was known for only one talent, and that was drawing. I was “destined” to be “an artist” because, as far as the tiny world I inhabited was concerned, that was all I was good at. They identified me as “someone who could draw”, and I eventually identified myself that way, too, whether I wanted to or not.
Enter the computer age with something called “computer art”. Back at the beginning it was forecasted that this magical computer generated art would level the playing field and make it so that anyone could create art – even *gasp* people with no discernible talent! If you’ve ever attempted this, you’ll know that it’s not as easy as everyone thought it would be, but reality is never as good as the forecasts.
At the time, I was outraged at the idea. Yes, I know, me? The big proponent of “anyone can draw”? Yep, it’s true, back then the idea that anyone could draw – that they could enter into the exclusive little “drawing club” – it was a horrible idea. It would be like setting tigers loose on defenseless little antelope; the blundering, talentless creatures would chase off all the little antelopes with “real talent” who’d “spent years honing their craft”.
But why did I care *so* much? Because my identity was so wrapped up in that ability, that it defined who I was. It, and it alone made me special and if everyone could suddenly do it, then what did that make me?
Of course, I’ve since grown up and moved past that phase, but I think that some writers haven’t. If just anyone can walk in and publish a book, then what does that do to someone whose self identity is wrapped up in the fact that they’re a published writer? If anyone can join the club, then that means it’s not so “special” anymore, doesn’t it? After all, they had to “pay their dues” and “spend years honing their craft” it’s only fair everyone else does, too.
But, just like computer art, that self publishing thing isn’t as easy as everyone thinks it is. To get a quality book out, it’s a lot of friggin’ work! In fact, unless you’ve hired out, you’re doing everything yourself, so it’s more work than a “traditionally published” author has to go through!
Of course, I’m not saying that this is every objector’s reason, but I think it’s the cause of at least half. So, the next time you find an author, or worse, a wanna-be author, running on about the evils of self publishing, just stop and realize how very, very threatened they may feel. There’s nothing to make you feel calmer than knowing you’re the tiger.