The Guardian has an article about Sue Grafton’s comments on the growing trend of self-publishing. Interestingly, both her and those who take offence with her opinion focus on the issues of talent and quality writing. Those who make it big, goes one form of the argument, are capable, professional writers, while those who are stuck in self-publishing ‘purgatory’ lack the skills to break out. The counter-argument about self-publishing keeps to the same logic when it attempts to disclose what Grafton failed to see: self-published writers have the talent and resolve to keep writing for love but little money.
Only in parts does The Guardian’s article touch on the role of business interests in the world of publishing. And as Cory Doctorow points out, the self-publisher quickly discovers that there is no simple relationship between talent and financial success. The difference between a self-publisher and an author that has already been vested by the big publishers is that the latter rides on waves created by a great marketing machine. In the current state of things, the self-publisher must play the same game and create their own waves:
Getting people to care about the products of your imagination is a profound and infinitely complex task that will absorb as much attention as you give it. Every book and every author brings a different proposition to the negotiation with readers, but there’s one thing they all have in common: unless someone takes charge of doingsomething, something clever and active and good and slightly improbable, no one will care about the book or the person who wrote it.