Publishing Has A Dictator And Thy Name Is General Ization!
Ah, yes, General Ization. That evil overlord of all things publishing.
Whether publishing with one of the Big Publishers or self-publishing, General Ization has his grip firmly around the necks of all.
Don’t believe me? Then let me know what your opinion of Big Publishing is. Or self-publishing. I’m sure you have an in-depth, well thought out opinion based on actual facts and experience.
What’s that? Big Publishing is EVIL and must be brought down because it sucks the life out of innocent writers that can’t defend themselves? Huh…
Oh, and self-publishing is filled with nothing but badly edited crap that shouldn’t be shat upon by an epileptic chimpanzee? Interesting.
Sounds like you are an agent of General Ization! YOU MUST BE PUT TO DEATH!
I bring this all up because there is a rampant problem with publishing today, in all forms and arenas.
It’s not how writers are treated. Because if you are a writer and don’t realize you are at the bottom of the food chain then you haven’t been paying attention.
It’s not that chaos reigns in the publishing world as everyone tries to figure out their place. Chaos is always there. Change happens, folks. That’s life.
It’s not that companies are merging, bookstores are closing/screaming foul, or that new forms of distribution are changing the very way books/ebooks are put into that hands of readers. That’s called business. Once again, change happens. Get used to it.
No, the rampant problem is how so many people (dare I say millions?) are taking generalizations as facts. How they are reading blogs (such as this one) and believing that opinions are Gospel. Can I get a hallelujah!
The two major generalizations out there are:
1. Big Publishing is only there to make a profit and no one in it cares about authors or quality. They only care about the bottom line.
2. That self-publishing is crap. Dreck that was pulled from the asses of ignorant writers that only want to unleash their horrid words upon the world to satisfy their egos.
I’m generalizing, of course.
But, in a way I’m not. Think about the blogs/articles/reports you’ve read or seen in the past month regarding publishing. Now ask yourself this: did any of them say anything that was hard fact or hadn’t been said before?
The answer is no. No, they haven’t.
I click the links and read all of that stuff too. And I haven’t seen an original thought in forever. Pundits on both sides are just rehashing the same, boring arguments without a single, quantifiable fact behind them.
Don’t believe me? Well, if Big Publishing is so evil then why do writers stay with them? Money? Maybe. Fame? Possibly. Because they have no other choice? Bullshit. Writers stay with something because it works for them. And if it works for the writers (not all, of course) then something must be done right. Come on, people! Writers are the bottom of the food chain as I said above. Just like all prey they stick with what keeps them alive. And if Big Publishing is keeping them alive then all the vitriol about how it does nothing but exploit writers can’t be true. It just can’t be.
Don’t get me wrong, we are talking about major corporations which are out there to make a profit. But “major corporations” are not thinking, feeling, breathing entities. They are just pieces of paper and bank accounts. It’s the people in the corporations that matter, not the corporations themselves. Big Publishing— hold on, I’m going to stop using caps on that name and personifying it. Big (had to capitalize that since it’s the beginning of the sentence. Shut up) publishing is made up of people. Just like any other entity it is nothing without people. To generalize that big publishing is evil is to say that EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN PUBLISHING IS EVIL. Again, bullshit. Are there bad people? Yes. But they are everywhere. That’s life with humanity.
Now how about self-publishing? I recently was having a conversation with an industry veteran that has worked with writers like Kurt Vonnegut, John LeCarre, E.L. Doctorow, and others. Her opinion is “self-publishing is filled with nothing but crap”. So I politely asked: “What self-published books have you read?” Her answer? None.
This is a very intelligent person. She’s no dummy, yo. But, based on the generalizations she’s heard, not actual factual experience, she has formed an opinion that ALL self-publishing is “crap”. Why does she have that opinion when reality would suggest otherwise? There are now millions of self-published books in the market. The odds dictate that yes, a percentage will be crap. But, the odds dictate that some will be mediocre, too. And some, just like with all art everywhere in the world since the dawn of time, will be pure brilliance.
But then she’s an editor, not a mathematician. Odds may be too hard to figure out.
How many books have you read that you’ve loved? A small percentage. That’s what makes a classic a classic and a throwaway summer read a throwaway summer read. And that small percentage applies to authors, too. I love Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, but I can do without The Orchard Keeper. But because I didn’t really get into The Orchard Keeper then does that make Cormac McCarthy a shitty writer? I’m guessing no.
A small percentage.
You want to generalize? Then look at facts. Only a small percentage of anything is going to be good. That is art. And you, as an individual, will not agree with anyone else about that small percentage.
Because art is subjective!
And there we have it folks: art is subjective. So is life. To state that anything is anything is egotistical flabberjabber. To say your experience is TRUTH or FACT is insane. It is only TRUTH or FACT for YOU. That’s it.
Whether you are a writer or reader, your opinion is only valid for you. It is something others can weigh and take into account when forming their own opinions, but at no point should it be taken as FACT or TRUTH. Until you have read that self-published book or worked for big publishing then you have no experience to base any opinion on. You are General Ization’s infantry bitch.
I’d also like to add that General Ization also applies to the subset of issues (GENDER!) within publishing. But I’m not going to get into that. There are many more articulate folks out there that have tackled this. Find them, read them, understand what’s going on.
You may have read everything above and thought, “I don’t generalize. I base my opinions on the merit of the work.” Which may be true, but next time you have to choose between one book or the other think about what factors draw you to the one you choose. And what generalizations influenced you to make that choice.
Because, as enlightened as you think you are (myself included), General Ization is standing right behind you, nodding, laughing, and plotting his next method of influence.