“I am a self-published author,” and as such I live my own 12-step recovery code everyday. While I am no longer ashamed to admit that fact, I am concerned about the state of publishing. It once was that everybody and his brother was a writer. Now everybody and his brother are not only writers, they are publishers as well, including me. With my block of ISBNs, I could easily set up shop on the sidewalk and sell my publishing service right beside the lemonade. But I am not a publisher. I am merely someone who is trying to create my own little niche as a writer/author in the publishing world. Nor do I want to be a publisher. There are far more knowledgeable and experienced people than myself to guide writers through the process. But what I try heart and soul to be is professional. I write something everyday, and I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, so much so that I often think of myself as the kid in Alona Frankel’s Once Upon a Potty book, who “sat and sat and sat and sat and. . . .” for an entire page! I not only rewrite until the work is literally taken away from me; I have my work professionally edited, usually multiple times and often by multiple editors.
While everybody may have a book in them, some of those books should never be ‘birthed,’ at least not for the general public, and while there may be a place or even a need for this very personal-type publishing, that place should not be intertwined with the serious publishing business. With the many unscrupulous self-publishers who will publish anything regardless of quality as long as it is accompanied by a check or credit card, the waters have become so muddied that serious independent publishers along with serious writers are drowning in the mire.
Publishing requirements/standards have to be written and adhered to and most likely overseen by an association, possibly one similar to the Small Publishers, Artists and Writers’ Network (SPAWN). Since I have been a member of SPAWN continuously for many years now and am always impressed by their professionalism and the sense of care they provide, I would personally like to see this be an endeavor they undertake.
“Who you gonna call?” If self-publishing is ever going to garner the respect it truly deserves, then the self-publishing industry is most likely is going to have to police itself and establish and maintain guidelines that are similar in scope and purpose to those set for the members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, but designed for publishers and possibly even called the Association for Self-Published Authors (ASPA).
Membership in such an organization would have to be maintained annually and procedures put in place to monitor the quality of the works being published by the membership. Truly, it would be a massive endeavor, but one surely worth the effort in the long run. Someone(s) from a place of power and position in the independent publishing industry must take on this task. Otherwise, we will continue to sink in the mire and be seen in the same light as that of the mud-babies by which we are quite often surrounded.
Now I must pause to recite the “Serenity Prayer” as a part of my recovery and to start my day.
Sandra Jones Cropsey, author
Who’s There? and Tinker’s Christmas