To Hell With This “Writer’s Digest” Poll

Again, we see the independent publishing revolution portrayed as a minor uprising.

In this article – http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-authors-prefer-traditional-publishers-to-selfpublishing-surprised-20140109,0,2171066.story#axzz2q1doxgBR – we get solid, hard-hitting facts and home truths. Boy, they sold me. They sure did.

I say bullshit.

Let’s have a look . . .

Writers prefer to be published by a traditional publisher over self-publishing. Go figure.

More than 9,000 authors responded to questions about the publishing industry in a report to be issued next week. Of the writers surveyed, 57.8% said they’d rather go the traditional route with their next book than try self-publishing.

These aren’t just old-fashioned authors. That percentage includes writers who have been both self-published and traditionally published.

Right.Okay. They asked 9,000 ‘authors’ and 42.2% of them still preffered to go indie. So of the 9,000 lemmings who STILL buy outdated (and obselete) publications like Writers Digest – who do so because they believe that putting your faith in a publishing house is the only way to go – just under 60% of them prefer to go the traditional route.

REALLY? Is this a surprise – they ARE your readership. OF COURSE they prefer to send their manuscripts off to sit in a slush pile for months. That’s what they want to do. They spend their coin on publications like Writer’s Digest because they think that in doing so, they’ll gain some insight into the publishing industry. Instead of getting out there, putting their name on something and seeing if it sells, they would rather wait months for someone to even read it.

Then, if that person doesn’t like their manuscript, it ends up in a pile with the others, stacked next to the blocked toilet at Hodder-Headline HQ.

What’s more, the survey was conducted by Writers Digest and Digital Book World — which certainly captures people interested in digital publishing.

Of course, traditional publishing houses publish e-books too. They’ll be among those at the Digital Book World Conference, which takes place in New York next week. That’s where the report will be presented with its full details.

There we go, right there. It captures people interested in digital publishing. I’ll tell you who it catches the attention of.

Say hello to Fred. He’s still trying to work out how you use Google.

Fred’s written a book. It’s a real good one, his best work yet. He does several drafts, lets it rest. Edits, rewrites, gives it to people to read. They make suggestions, tell him what they did and didn’t like, etc etc etc. The whole rigmarole.

Fred thinks, “Now what?”

His brain replies with SEND IT TO A PUBLISHER! GET A PUBLISHING DEAL! MAYBE YOU CAN BUY THAT CAR . . .

Fred wonders where to get addresses of agents and publishers. So he goes and buys all of the magazines and books he can find that contain that golden information. And he gets copies of his book made, sends his creations into the night, fly fly fly my pretties, bring me riches . . .

Months later, Fred is STILL waiting to hear from anyone. Someone says to him “Why don’t you just put it on the Kindle?”

Fred’s eyes widen in surprise. “What’s a Kindle?” he asks.

THIS is who buys stuff like that.

Of course, traditional publishing houses publish e-books too.

Good for them. Talk about trying to make the HUGE e-book revolution out as folly.

“Traditionally, we don’t bother with these e-book things. Run along children, have your fun. Let the old boys club continue as we always have done.”

They’ll be among those at the Digital Book World Conference, which takes place in New York next week. That’s where the report will be presented with its full details.

Yep. All of the big publishing houses will be there, to present their hard facts.

“Pay no attention to wild speculation! It’s not true! None of it! The boy Harry Potter is a liar! He Who Must Not Be Named has certainly not returned!!!”

You get my point.

“Despite the rise of self-publishing and the enthusiasm with which self-published authors celebrate its ascendance, overall, the authors surveyed are more interested in traditionally publishing their next book . . .”

Again, is this really that much of a surprise? You asked 9,000 Freds what they thought, and you got honest Fred answers. Fancy what would happen if 80% of readers said they would rather publish themselves. I’ll tell you exactly what would happen: Writer’s Digest and Digital Book World wouldn’t run the story.

” . . . The greatest preference for traditionally publishing was reported by traditionally published authors (87.2%) followed by not-yet-published authors (76.8%). Among authors who have self-published, more than half hoped to publish with traditional publishers — 53.5% of self-published authors and 57.8% of hybrid authors.”

Are they intentionally treating their readership as a bunch of dribbling idiots? This seems to be the LA Times intention.

“People in their sixties who have always driven on the left side of the road, prefer to drive on the left hand side of the road. We know, we know, this comes as an absolute shock to you.”

People who’ve always BEEN published by someone really don’t understand it, I think. They’re  the old guard.

It’s telling that half of the lemmings surveyed wanted to continue the way they were doing things and more than half who’d dabbled in independent publishing before still preffered traditional publishing. You know, lunches with agents and all that jazz.

Good for them.

Most authors and aspiring writers are open to a mix of traditional publishing and self publishing; very few are dedicated to self-publishing only.

This, to be fair, I can’t argue with. A lot of us are interested in doing a bit of everything. An audio book. A physical book – perhaps with a publishing house. A graphic novel. And why not? Why not have a hand in two biscuit barrels at once and see what you come out with?

However . . .

Even among those who define themselves as self-published authors, more than half — about 53% — would prefer that their next book be published by a traditional publisher.

They just said that. Above. Right up there. But evidently they needed to drum it into your head a bit harder.

“Amongst the lower class authors who publish their own work, more than half would prefer to go through a traditional publishing house next time around. We know this because, well, you know . . . they brought our mag.”

This is the second year that the survey has been conducted. It’s a self-selecting survey of interested parties, so, Weinberg warns, the numbers aren’t scientific. But it does show that traditional publishers are doing something right — authors still like them lots.

So basically, what they’re saying is . . . it’s bullshit. They have 9,000 AUTHORS answering these things? How do they even know they’re authors? Of course it’s not scientific.  Firstly, it tells us nothing new.

People who have published traditionally in the past, still like to do so now.

Wow. Mind. Blown.

Secondly, authors who independently publish wouldn’t mind having the best of both worlds and giving a traditional publisher a try.

(Note the use of “Self publish” because yes, while its true we do publish ourselves, its just another way of the big names making the e-book revolution seem like an uprising of model railway enthusiasts).

Number three, those 9,000 people who buy copies of Writer’s Digest aren’t neccessarily authors. Aren’t they discounting people who “self-publish”? So I take it those 9,000 authors are traditionally published. Of course not. Why didn’t they ask the millions of independent authors and publishers who have their work on sale on Amazon? I know, because of those millions a vast percentage would continue to do it themselves. But looks at the numbers.

9,000 of Freds

. . . or . . .

Millions of independent authors actually doing their thing, selling copies of their work

I know which one I’d put my money on. Fuck this article. It’s a fart on the wind. The rise of independent authors is a revolution in that it is changing the landscape. It won’t ever go back to the way it was. Publishers will have to change with it or risk getting stuck in the mud and fossilized like the dinosaurs they’re at risk of becoming.

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