Self-publishing equals lazy?


Recently I read a story on The Guardian about the reaction to Sue Grafton‘s accusation that self-publishing equals laziness. Well, actually, she said:

” ‘…that’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.’ The self-published books she has read are ‘often amateurish,’ she said, comparing self-publishing ‘to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.’ ”

Of course, this caused uproar among the self-publishing industry. Here is one The Guardian quotes:

” ‘The complete opposite is true,’ [Adam Croft] said. ‘Self-publishing means finding your own proofreader, finding your own editor, finding your own cover designer (or designing your own), doing all your own marketing and sales work, etc. Having a publisher is lazy as all you need to do is write a half-acceptable book and allow your publisher’s editor to make it sales-worthy. Self-publishers must do it all – we have no one else to pick up the slack.’ ”

Now, what he said isn’t entirely true. Yes, you should do all of your own work with editing and designing the cover and all of that, as he says, but not everyone does. I take the time to peruse through the free books offered on Amazon (here’s the one I mainly use), just to find some new things that I might not normally read, and I can tell you, some of them might be good stories, but they took no time to proof edit it by themselves, let alone having someone else read it for them.

And as for having a publisher equaling being lazy, I don’t know about those authors who are best sellers, but for starting out, I’ve been told by many that you should have your book as close to perfect as possible in order to get an agent/publisher/etc. That shows that you have experience writing and editing, and that you actually care about your work.

I will admit, however, that calling all self-published work “amateurish” (which she did not do – she said they are “often amateurish”) or calling all self-publishers “lazy” (which she did) is perpetuating a stereotype that I’m sure the publishing companies would love to continue perpetuating.  Some self-published works are very good. I’ve thought about self-publishing, and I can guarantee you I will take months writing and then months editing my work (including having someone else proofread and content edit it with me) before I publish, to try and get it as perfect as possible. Not sure I would call that lazy.

I think the quote in the story from the Alliance of Independent Authors sums it up well:

“Humility, hard work, craft skills, creative development – and their opposite – are found in both the self- and trade publishing sectors. It is impossible to pre-judge an individual writer, or work, on the basis of how they are published.”

I'm a lover of writing and books. I graduated from South Dakota State with a master's degree in communications in 2011, the same year I was first published. I'm a wife and mom, and I work in marketing in Sioux Falls.

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