Bridging the disparity of opinion between the self-published and the traditionally published

This is my second attempt at writing about this. The first attempt ended up like one of those essay’s that you do at Uni – you know ‘critically evaluate’ and by the end of it, other than comments about removing fingers from asses and rather impolitely saying ‘suck it’, it rivalled even my finest 1st class thesis.

It’s often said that when you write about something your passionate about, the end result (if not a little biased) is often better than if you were writing about a subject that bores you. This subject is something I’m passionate about and I had voiced it as I would a finely crafted dissertation, and believe me, the length of it almost lived up to that name. However, by writing as a scholar would write, it lacked that fiery passion that sears through my veins when I see an article dissing the self-published, the small press published or the traditionally published author. For crying out loud, I’m not trying to earn a spot in the Guardian or the New York Times, so I dropped the whole scholastic approach in favor of liquid heat. And this is the result.

Bridging the disparity of opinion between the self-published and the traditionally published

The emergence of self-published authors in their droves has had several major impacts on the literary market. Online purveyors in digital books are flooded with a type of book that, up until a few years ago, wouldn’t have kissed the light of day – the self-published book. That’s not to say these books would not have been published traditionally, many authors that could have acquired representation, and indeed, authors that already had, now seek to publish through their own channels.


The ability to retain rights and therefore retain control of your own content has been met with a major nod of approval. Add to this the control to pick your own platforms, follow your own timeline and receive higher royalties – you have the combination that appealed to the masses.

Sounds good, right? And we should all be free to choose what we want, right? And those that choose to self-publish should not be looked down upon, right? Right!? Hmm, and there we have it. One of the problems with self-publishing. And it is not at all one sided.

There are some that feel the self-published author is not as important nor as ‘good’ as those that have been traditionally published. Indeed, securing an agent is a highlight and a great personal achievement for any writer that wishes to go down that route and should be applauded whether successful or not, however, some people don’t take into account that not everyone wants an agent.

There are also plenty of writers, in fact the vast majority, who feel that an author who is self-published should feel mighty proud of their achievement.

And then, there are the self-published authors who look down on the traditionally published authors because they couldn’t do it themselves when in fact, they could, they just didn’t want to.

And of course, let’s not forget the authors who really don’t give a damn about how a book has been published – a published book is a published book, no matter the method. Again, these form part of the vast majority.

Whether self-published or traditionally published, as writers, we should all support each other. We’ve all written a book.

So, why is there a stigma attached to self-publishing amongst writers?

Widely, there isn’t. However, if you have an e-reader, chances are at some point you have read a truly, truly awful book. Unfortunately, the outlets that allow authors to upload and distribute their work do not rigorously check the content. This has led to books that contain major problems and errors becoming available when they really shouldn’t. And these are the writers that need a smack upside the head for unleashing their beasties upon us without bothering to proof read, hire on editor or even get a beta to read it. They took their pen and swiped a black mark over their peers. It is incredibly difficult to have confidence in a self-published author when you’ve read one of these books. But, there are so many excellent self-published books too and, thankfully, most writers know that.

It’s easy to see why some people would hold the self-published author in negative regard. However, this is terribly poor opinion to have. As mentioned above, there are countless fantastic books available from self-published authors. And why should they be tarnished because of others that didn’t have the good sense to hire an editor. At the same time why should self-published authors feel the need to look down on traditionally published or small press published authors. This one’s a doozie, because what reason can be found to hold the traditionally published or small press published in negative regard? If anyone knows, do tell.

So what can be done to bridge the disparity of opinion?

Respect each other as writers regardless of publishing method. ‘Tis a small circle we run in and bad attitude will be uprooted eventually and no doubt jumped upon because, and here’s the part that warms my heart, there is a certain solidarity amongst writers. There have been several debacles on social media where individuals have decided to slander a person or a competition and, oh my days, I’m not sure if they have any skin left after the literary world joined hands and entered into battle.

Tomato/tomato – okay, that doesn’t work so well in print. A writer is a writer and we should all show each other equal amounts of respect, support and enthusiasm.

We are a community and I, for one, couldn’t give a rats ass how people choose to pursue publishing. I love you all. Group hug!

10 thoughts on “Bridging the disparity of opinion between the self-published and the traditionally published

  1. I love you too (((HUG)))!!!

    Such a honest and awesome post! I’m not sure that I could add to or dispute anything you said. I’ve read both good/bad from both self and traditionally published, so to me it doesn’t matter what/who you are. Like you said, we are all in this together.

    • Thank you, Dena! Yes, I agree – we are all in this together and I am so grateful to those that show such unwaivering support <3

  2. Great post, Emma.

    “If anyone knows, do tell.” Simple, actually. Everybody overgeneralizes — well, maybe 92 percent do; it’s easier than actually doing some critical thinking. Ergo, prejudice and oversimplification.

    Reminds me of that semi-famous self-help book from the ’70s: “I’m Okay, You’re a Jerk.” Or maybe I have that wrong. Hmm.

    Anyhow, great post to shine a light there.

    • Thank you, Jake! That title there is hilarious. I just think everyone should support everyone else. Makes me sound like the type that wants to hold hands and dance around the fire, doesn’t it 😀

  3. 🙂 Well said.

  4. I agree with each and every one of your words. I worked hard to publish my book. I had it edited and proof read. And then I edited twice more on my own. I used my reviews, books on editing, and grammar books. Rules have changed over time; on what is acceptable and what isn’t. It can be done well without an agent or a big publishing company. Here’s to the self-published author!!!! (Even though exclamation points are now frowned down upon.)

    • Thank you, Susanne! I’m glad you agree. The literary world is a very different one now and it’s so good to be able to have complete control over our content.

  5. I believe authors following both paths are extremely brave. I have read some books with editing problems, but it’s not always the self-published books that have them :S I’ve found that if I’m reading a good story, it doesn’t bother me if I find a few errors. And on the social media side, even traditionally published authors have to take on some marketing themselves these days, so going down that path won’t alleviate that stress. Both authors will have to work hard to get their work out amongst the readers, and inevitably, it’s the great read that has people recommending books. I don’t really know if I’ve said anything important here lol.

    • I’ve also found small errors in traditionally published books and I can overlook them in all publishing forms but the books that continuously have errors or incorrect use of words drive me round the bend! One of my pet hates is someone saying the word ‘brought’ instead of ‘bought’ and just yesterday I read that in a book and I just shook my head – why?! lol. However, the rest of the book was cool so totally forgiven. The marketing is a pain for all authors, it’s so hard!

      There are so many hybrid authors now which is cool, they are all brave and have my respect. All authors, whatever way they chose to publish, are awesome because they wrote a book and they got it out there. I still can’t stand the books with errors on every page. I read a book that shifted from 3rd POV to 1st POV mid paragraph, which was fun – erm. Theres me going on about it – how funny it would be if someone pointed out that mine is full of glaring errors too. I’d have to eat the humblest of pies 🙂

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