November 30, 2011

Reasons not to self-publish: a defense of small presses


Yesterday, Edan Lepucki in The Millions wrote a great piece on the perils of self-publishing and the benefits of working with a small publishing house. She also noted that “the conversation about self-publishing too often ignores the role of independent publishing houses in this shifting reading landscape…. Small presses try things that large, established houses are too huge, and possibly too chickenshit, to even consider.” They also provide that arguably necessary vote of confidence for a first-time author, and promote your novel so you don’t have to personally call and e-mail reviewers pleading them to consider a review; you also don’t have to contact bookstores to make sure they have your title in stock or if they would be interested in you, erm, reading there to promote your book. You’re out of that equation, which can be a problem. As she artfully argues, “I don’t want to be Amazon’s Bitch.” Who would?

Lepucki asked Peter Straub, a much-lauded horror writer, why he’s sticking with publishing houses when he has so many options. Straub thoughtfully wrote:

“Most of the editors I have worked with over the past thirty-five years have made crucial contributions to the books entrusted to them, and the copy-editors have always, in every case, done exactly the same. They have enriched the books that came into their hands. Can you have good, thoughtful, creative editing and precise, accurate, immaculate copy-editing if you self-publish? And if you can’t, what is being said about the status or role of selflessness before the final form of the fiction as accepted by the audience, I mean the willingness of the author to submerge his ego to produce the novel that is truest to itself?”

Read more of what Lepucki had to say here.