By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
Lately I've noticed a lot of toe-stepping going on around the internet. And at the same time writer's are speaking their minds, many are quick to take offense to something written on Twitter or in a blog post, especially when it comes to self-publishing versus traditional publication.
Obviously, those who are happy with traditional publication, are quick to defend their position. And those who are self-publishing are also quick to promote the positives of their choice.
My agent recently wrote a post: Will My Publisher Let Me Self-Publish Too? I understood completely where her post was coming from, because I have contracts with non-compete clauses and it's not as simple as telling your publisher to take it out or take a hike.
Even though ideally, I'd like to remove the non-compete, I have a great relationship with my publisher, love my editors, and have had a very positive traditional publication experience. I have no desire to burn bridges with anyone in the industry. But I'm also hopeful for changes and compromises that can help benefit everyone involved.
Unfortunately, Rachelle got a lot of criticism for her post, mainly from self-published authors. In reading the comments, I could see that some writers had no idea of the reality and complexity of the traditional publication situation (particularly in regard to non-compete clauses) mostly because they haven't been in the situation where they have one that they're struggling to negotiate. They were making blanket statements about issues they didn't fully understand.
But I'm guilty as charged. I've made statements about self-publishing when I have no idea about the reality and the complexity of the self-publishing situation. My comments come out of a collection of thoughts and presuppositions based on what I've read, instead of personal experience.
Until we've walked a mile in the shoes of someone else, we really have no business passing judgment, do we? There are times when I think it would be very helpful for me to self-publish something just so that I can understand where others are coming from. Then I could better empathize, be less judgmental, and be more knowledgeable when I make comments.
Shouldn't we all be striving to understand one another instead of coming across as critical, condescending, or demeaning?
The truth is, all of us writers whether we go the traditional route, self-publish, or both are in this business together. We can cheer each other on, no matter what route we take. Self-published authors don't have to scoff at traditionally published for settling for less money or control. And traditionally don't have to put down self-published books as subpar.
Obviously there are subpar books in both categories, just as there are poorly paid authors in both categories. Neither, in and of themselves, are the panacea for success.
Success knows no boundaries to a particular kind of publication. No matter the route we take, success comes to those who persevere in writing one good book after another, time after time, year after year.
I'll end my rant for today with a plea: Can we please stop stepping on each others' toes and just enjoy being friends? And if for some reason, our toes do get stepped on occasionally, perhaps we have to resolve not to take it so personally.
Have you noticed toe-stepping with the whole self-publishing versus traditional publishing debate? How have you handled it?
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