Last week Dr Jim Taylor published a blog post on Seattle PI where he debated whether or not self-published authors are really authors (and whether or not they are really published, for that matter).
From his post:
“At the same time, the self-publishing industry has allowed anyone with a computer and a small amount of money to call themselves authors. Not long ago, I read a fascinating article in The New York Times(unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it when I did an Internet search) that questioned whether self-published authors should be called published authors. Rather, the article suggests, they are book writers who have their books printed. There is, I believe, a significant difference between authors published by traditional houses and self-published books in that the latter lack the processes that we can count on to ensure a minimal level of quality, both of content and style.
The publishing houses are certainly not beyond reproach as judges of worthy literature. There are many books published by the houses that are critically panned and sell few copies. Yet, despite their warts, the publishing industry does serve a valuable role as an initial arbiter of literary quality (however flawed it may be). Books that are accepted by a genuine publisher go through a rigorous (though obviously imperfect) multi-layer vetting process that includes an agent, an editor, several outside reviewers, an editorial committee, a sales and marketing committee, and often the publisher him or herself.”
He concludes “until self-publishing has proven itself, I’m going to argue that there is a difference [between] publishing and self-publishing and between authors and book writers.”
While I agree with Dr Taylor that traditionally-published books are rigorously vetted (though that doesn’t always ensure great quality), self-published authors who are serious about creating a quality book can create great self-published books, and those authors have every right to call themselves “real” authors.
Yes, anyone can type up 50,000 words in Word, create a cover in Photoshop, buy an ISBN and have their book printed using a service like Blurb. And anyone who does that shouldn’t expect their book to stand up against professionally published works.
However, someone could also type up 50,000 words in Word, review and refine the draft until they’re satisfied, and then have it reviewed by industry experts, or people who are in their target audience.
Once they’ve done the preliminary review, they can hire a professional, qualified editor to look at the content, structure, language, tone and more. While their book is being edited, they can also hire a professional graphic designer to design a polished front cover, back cover and spine.
Once the editing is completed, they can work with their designer on the internal page layout, or typesetting.
And they can work with a printing company that has experience in printing books like the one they want to create, which can provide guidelines for their typesetter and cover designer, and which can explain the pros and cons of various formats. The printer should also be able to provide at least one proof copy, so the author can give everything a once over before printing a full run.
If a self-published author goes through this process, their book will have been vetted to the same extent as a professionally published book by the time it goes to print. It will be a professional publication, and the author will have every right to call themselves a real author.
* See the original post at: http://blog.seattlepi.com/jimtaylor/2013/09/30/are-self-published-authors-really-authors-or-even-published/