There is an affliction sweeping the nation that until recently has mainly only been whispered about in private quarters, but which agent Sarah LaPolla and author Chuck Wendig touched on this week:
Some (some!) vocal self-published authors have a rather substantial chip on their shoulders.
Before we start get into name calling, let me state the following:
I love self-publishing! I think it's fantastic. I wouldn't by any means rule out partaking in this wondrous process someday and have been pro-self-publishing since the beginning of time, or at least since the mid-2000s. I think it's awesome that authors can find their readers without needing a traditional publisher.
And I don't blame people for being frustrated with the traditional publishing process. Yes, some people in traditional publishing are jerks and treat people accordingly. Yes, traditional publishing may well have overlooked your book. Yes, the query process is used as a torture device in some countries.
It's frustrating. But frustration is to publishing what carbon dioxide is to breathing: a poisonous but inevitable byproduct. (What many self-published authors don't yet realize is that this is true of self-publishing too.)
Also, when I say some self-published authors have a chip on their shoulder, this isn't about me complaining. These chips implanted in those shoulders certainly make for entertaining if slightly horrifying flame wars. People are welcome to say whatever they want, which is why the Internet exists in the first place.
I just don't think the chippy authors are doing themselves any favors. Here's why:
1) Your attitude could alienate people you might want to work with in the future
Publishing, whether self- or traditional, is a means to an end. It's about getting your words to readers.
And guess what: love them or hate them, traditional publishers happen to be pretty awesome at getting books to readers, especially when they're very motivated. You may want to use one of them someday.
Now, the idea of a publishing industry blacklist is approximately 110% myth. You're not going to end your publishing career by shooting your mouth off. But all things being equal, people don't want to work with a jerk.
Rejection isn't personal. There's nothing to exact revenge over.
2) You're turning off potential readers
Most readers, by and large, don't care a whit who publishes you. They haven't heard of 90% of the imprints out there anyway. They're not going to read you because you wear your self-publishing badge with excessive pride. They just want to know if your book is good.
Most readers would also prefer that the authors they read are good humans too. So that helps.
3) Your attitude reinforces the idea that self-publishing equates authors who were rejected everywhere else
Chuck Wendig puts this one better than I could:
Every time you yell about traditional publishing it just looks like a dumptruck full of sour grapes. Which leads us all to what is likely the correct conclusion: you self-publish because you were rejected and your peen is in a twist about it, not because you have a great story you want people to read, not because you want the control that self-publishing affords you.4) If you are self-publishing out of frustration with traditional publication you're doing it for the wrong reasons
You should be self-publishing because it is the best career move for you, not because you grew impatient with traditional publication or arrived at self-publishing with a desire to stick it to publishers.
Are you sure you want to self-publish? Check out this checklist.
By and large self-published authors are awesome, entrepreneurial, creative individuals. Some loud ones are not. It's temping to join the loud crowd, but better in the long run to let your work speak for you rather than your frustrations.
Art: The Torment of St. Anthony - Michelangelo