I’ve written before about the divisiveness between some traditionally published and self-published authors. It’s resulted in verbal wars, negative 1-star reviews, and even threats. For various reasons, the approach to publishing is highly personal and emotionally charged for some. So, when a well-known author comes along and tells people not to self-publish because “that’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work” you can imagine the backlash.
This is exactly what happened to Sue Grafton, whose highly praised, alphabet mysteries have earned her millions of fans over the last twenty years. A recent interview in LouisvilleKY.com, however, clearly showed that she’s not been keeping up with the self-publishing and ebook revolution, which was disappointing. In essence she said that self-publishing was a shortcut and she doesn’t believe in taking shortcuts when it comes to art.
But here’s the thing. In my opinion, not everything Grafton said was wrong. She was quite right when she said that only a few succeed (if making enough money to live on is your definition of success). In an earlier blog I wrote, one survey showed that most authors sell less than 500 ebooks. Grafton also said that she’s read a number of self-published ebooks and found them amateurish. So have I.
But I’ve also found some beautifully written books, and this is where Grafton went off track. She painted self-publishers with the same brush when in truth they run the whole gamut, from amateurs who bash out a couple of drafts with little editing to those who’ve spent years writing and rewriting and going through professional editing. She doesn’t seem to understand that more successful traditionally published authors are choosing to self-publish because contracts are stingier than ever.
Discussions about her interview have sprung up on a couple of forums I belong to, and probably many more, and not much appears to favor Grafton, although I'm sure there are some. Once the backlash got rolling, she has apparently apologized on Facebook (I haven’t looked for it), indicating she didn’t have a clear picture of what self-publishing is today, and thought it was more of the vanity press days when a so-called publisher charged authors big bucks to see their work in print. If you want to read a little more of the interview, you can go to http://www.thepassivevoice.com/08/2012/quit-worrying-about-publication/
A blog by Hugh Howey offers an interesting example of the type of response to Grafton’s remarks. I've read similar comments on other forums. You can find it at http://www.hughhowey.com/my-favorite-four-sue-grafton-novels/
As always, I welcome your thoughts on this.