During a recent conference I attended on Publishing Futures, the discussion touched on the global political views of the "abolish copyright" movement. This political lobby group asserts that copyright and the publishers battling to uphold it are getting in the way of a pure flow of creativity from writer to reader on the internet. I heard several worried publishers around me calling out the question "so what is our value as publishers?" Unfortunately the discussion swirled away without these voices being heard or answered.Read the whole thing. From the get-go, let's agree to not knock those who prefer self-publishing over the traditional route. Wonderful works have landed in readers' laps due to CreateSpace and Kickstarter campaigns, and I'm pleased that ISLF friends such as Lars Walker, Tony Chavira and Michelle Davidson Argyle have boosted their creative careers through such means.
I have been thinking a lot about the answers. It matters, because I am worried we will lose the publishing mechanism that allowed writers to become a professional group in the first place.
Having said that, I'm not sure I possess enough talent to self publish.
The problem, so to speak, is that self publishing requires an expansive skill set. Authors must don the editing hat, the typesetting hat, the cover design hat, the promotional hat and on and on until they've veritable leaning towers of haberdashery perched atop their noggins. I enormously admire those who can manage it. Yet I think that Mary Robinette Kowal, author of Shades of Milk and Honey and one-quarter of the Writing Excuses podcast team, has a good word on the subject. When recently asked if she would self-publish given the opportunity, she said, "I ... would not. Understand that having come from an art major background and working as an art director, I have all the skillset to self-publish, and I've avoided it like the plague. Not because I think it's bad, but because I'm much happier to have people give me money and then have them do the work."
(Picture: CC 2011 by Septuagent; Hat Tip: @DBeyondBorders)