The bane and the blessing of this media age is self-publishing.

It is the essence of narcissism. People with pens sit back and, assuming that they know more than the publishing houses do (and sometimes they are right), they decide to Publish Their Novel Themselves. Damning the torpedoes, they charge, proclaiming themselves Published Authors.  They’ve earned no stripes listening to the criticism of editors, but instead, relying upon the praise of their mothers and friends, force themselves upon us.

I do include myself in this gang of reckless auteurs. Of course, I am the exception to the generalization of “hacks who need to find a real job.”

So, these epics are published, such as they are. The writers troll* websites and offer to give away their works in exchange for reviews on other websites.

One must be careful of what one wishes.

Publishing Houses are notoriously difficult to get into, and rightfully so, but they do have a few advantages to this self-publishing world. One, they have the advertising and marketing gig down. They can sell your work so you can eat and keep pounding away at the hapless keyboard. Two, they have scale and mass production capabilities. But, most importantly, they have editors who presumably know something about grammar and story structure. They catch missing words, typos, errant punctuation, drifting themes and awkward scenes, and so forth. In other words, they can help you not look like a fool in print. (Of course, if you’re hell bent on exposing yourself, there is little they can do… other than toss you out to the self-publishing world.)

I’ve generously been given several books to review recently, a few by self-published authors. Some of this fresh work is encouraging and fun, but sometimes… there are grammar and punctuation errors a sixth grader should catch. Often, thematic focus is lacking. Characters are not fully formed. Descriptive passages are heavy-handed and blunt. What’s been published is the equivalent of a solid first or second draft — not a finished work.

The danger here is that, as author, when you publish something, you’re stating that “This is the best I’ve got.”

If the best you’ve got involves ***king up the spelling of their / they’re / there —- I don’t even need to wonder what your Deep Thoughts might be. If the best you’ve got involves basic mistakes, then your best isn’t very good. There, you may find the reason why Random House didn’t pick you up. And, perhaps you want to spend some time thinking about this.

I’m not opposed to self-publishing in principle, just as I’m not opposed to democracy.  However, being “able” to do something is not equivalent to “ought” to do something. Consider here the exchange between Sir Lucas and Mr. Darcy regarding dancing. Lucas states that dancing is the hallmark of a refined society; Darcy replies that any savage can dance.

Any idiot can type; only a few can actually write.



* Aside:

Isn’t the use of the noun “troll”  wonderful when describing the action of creeping through websites looking for opportunity? I imagine the user hiding under the virtual bridge to others, and…. Yes, great example of evolving language.


About Shannon Blue Christensen

Storyteller. Author. Editor. Literary Critic. Director. Teacher. Knitter. nascent Musician. Student. Operations and Quality. Marketing. Historian. Lear's Fool. View all posts by Shannon Blue Christensen

2 responses to “Authorship

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: