Unpublished Writing – A Waste Of Time? (pt 2)
Following on from my last post, I thought I’d approach this same question from a slightly different angle: namely, that of self-publishing versus the more traditional route.
A common argument in favor of self-publishing is the lack of interference from traditional gatekeepers – namely, agents and publishing firms. Why spend years upon years writing a manuscript, the argument goes, only to have it continuously rejected by people concerned more by profit than artistic merit? Why not just let readers decide for themselves? Surely it is better to have a manuscript read by someone, people say rather than let it gather dust for all of time?
Without additional qualifiers, however, such arguments are meaningless. Writing projects should be primarily viewed as learning experiences, as I argued previously, with publication an added bonus rather than the primary goal. If a work is not ready to be published, self-publishing it is NOT going to change matters; most likely, it will leave you with a few annoyed readers and a sizeable hole in your wallet1.
Additional qualifiers can exist, however, in which case the above arguments carry much more weight. Sometimes, a work simply won’t seem marketable at a glance2, making traditional publication exceedingly difficult; in such a case, self-publishing would be a natural choice. In addition, there could come a time where you are utterly convinced that a book is ready and have been told as such by trusted readers; in such circumstances; self-publishing would again be an obvious solution.
I should point out here that several good arguments do exist for self-publishing nowadays, and I would definitely recommend reading up on them. Such arguments are beyond the scope of this article, however. Indeed, I’m making no conclusions here on the merits of self-publishing itself, nor am I concluding anything concrete on publishing as a whole.
Instead, I am simply concluding the following: the time taken to be traditionally published is not a bad thing in itself, making it a poor argument for self-publishing in the majority of circumstances.
1 This last point assumes that you’re not simply trying to do everything yourself – which, of course, you shouldn’t.
2 I feel that a lot of people overstate this one, mind. A huge variety of works get traditionally published, after all.
From → Uncategorized