Friday, August 08, 2014

Writing: The More Things Change...

Anyone familiar with the publishing industry knows that there is an increasing tendency for writers, even those who have been published previously by traditional publishers, to self-publish via the e-book route. Some have even added print-on-demand as additional arrows to their quivers. And a new class of writer, the "hybrid," has sprung up. Unfortunately, with all this, there has been continuing acrimony between those with both feet firmly in either camp, and even the hybrids are often urged to take sides.

Two confessions here, in the interest of full disclosure: First, I'm working under a contract from a traditional publisher. When it has run its course, I will have had ten novels of medical suspense plus a non-fiction book on the loss of a spouse published. Second, I have no objection in principle to self-publication, although frankly it isn't my choice, given my current circumstances.

Having said that, let me share with you some words from the extremely talented writer, the late John D. MacDonald. This is from a re-publication of his novel, Slam The Big Door, and  the copyright of the introduction from which this is taken is 1960. "There is a general feeling that publication in hardcover is necessary if a book is to have any cachet of importance. It is the class act, mollifying the snob in every writer. I do not really know why this should be so." Change "hardcover" to "published by a traditional publishing house," and this is as fresh as tomorrow's newspaper.

I'll let you make your own decision about this difference of opinion that exists. Instead, I'll leave you with another quotation from MacDonald: "I have always believed that the package does not make that much difference. The idea should be to get the work out to where people can buy it. If it is published on Kleenex or forty pound rag bond is not as important as its accessibility."

Now, I'm anxious to hear your comments.


Patricia Bradley said...

I think I cut my teeth on John D. MacDonald's books--or at least my wisdom teeth. He is the best at...well just about everything!

As for traditional vs Indy publishing...while I am traditionally published, I don't understand why there are those who look down on Indie publishing. If an author gets a good editor and produces quality work, Indy is just as viable as traditional publishing. I've seen both traditional and Indie that could have used another edit. :-)

Patricia Bradley said...

Not sure if Indie is spelled Indie or Indy so I erred on the side of both. :-)

Richard Mabry said...

Pat, thanks for your comment (and, like you, I'm sometimes unsure about how to spell "indie.") I think the reason some indie published work garners sneers is that--at least, for quite a while--that kind of work didn't get the same level of editing we see from traditional publishing houses. Now most authors have learned that their self-pubbed work needs the same degree of editing and professional touch that publishers give.