Monday, January 26, 2009

Old and New Realities: Self-Publishing Gets a Nod From the Media

"Saying you were a self-published author used to be like saying you were a self-taught brain surgeon." Lev Grossman, in "Books Unbound: The Forces of a New Century are Shaping a New Kind of Literature. It's Fast, Cheap and Out of Control," in the February 2 issue of Time, reminds us, and he gives some grudging respect to beleagured self-published authors. Some of their books have gone on to best-seller status.

I've written before about the agonies and perils of the traditional publishing process: the long and often futile search for agent and publisher, the shrinking advance, the slight chance of seeing a book actually published, the quick trip to the remainder bin if a book doesn't sell well.

The traditional publishing industry is suffering, but people are still reading. What's happening? "Old publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste." Publishing as a whole is expanding in new forms.

According to Grossman, this is "neither good nor bad; it just is." Once, novels were considered vulgar and immoral, but "they shocked and seduced people into new ways of thinking." The very idea of self-publishing anything, fiction or non-fiction, still seems undignified or contemptible to many. Still, self-published books give everyone a chance at self-expression and are likely to seduce us into new ways of thinking. This is, indeed, a brave new literary world.

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

1 comment:

Magnolia said...

I've been thinking about this very topic lately Marlys.

Attitudes and ideas are constantly changing and one would think that as a society we could look back and see that what we believe today is nothing like what we believed 200 years ago.

So it is with publishing. The Internet and technology is changing the face of every industry it seems and publishing is no different.

I'm not anywhere near publishing anything, but if I do, I will not rule out self-publishing.