Monday, November 28, 2011

Traditional publishing house as "quality" filter

I saw this the other day on a website I went to where the discussion of "are self-pubbers worth reading" was being had. The commenter suggested that while it was greatly unfair to many high-quality self-publishing authors, it was unfortunately probably best to let the publishing houses and their screening process weed out the bad/lazy writers.

But I have to ask myself if we honestly believe that?

We've all heard, for instance, the story of J.K. Rowling, whose first Harry Potter novel was rejected by a dozen publishers before she found one willing to publish it. I think anyone who suggested that the first dozen were correct in their judgment would find a lot of people to disagree with them. (And I suspect that the owners of those publishing houses are probably hanging their heads and wringing their hands even as we speak.)

And we can all think of some books/series that made it past the traditional publishing houses that we wish hadn't. (I'll make no comment here, though you can  probably guess at least some of my thoughts on the matter.)

Also, as my writer friend Angela Scott wisely put it, "it's all subjective." Ask ten people what makes a good story and you're likely to get twelve different responses. Almost any work, in almost any style, is going to find some people who think it's brilliant. Story quality is a matter of taste. (Editing, admittedly, is not. And as I say below, I'm on a one man quest to prove that not all self-pubbers are lax on this front.)

So, with all due respect to the traditional publishing process, I have to ask -- isn't it ultimately up to the reader/buyer to exercise their own filter, regardless of whether the book is trad-pubbed or self-pubbed?

1 comment:

  1. I don't think people understand what those rejection stories really mean. It does not mean that the first draft of Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before it became a blockbuster. It usually means 12 drafts of the book were rejected before the 13 set of revisions and edits found a publisher.

    The script fot the movie Amadeus went through 47 drafts before it was made into a movie that later won 8 oscars. This was a film late in Peter Schafer's career. Even as an established screenwriter he still wrote 47 drafts before he won that oscar for best adaption.