Rant: A Brief History of Self-Publishing/Traditional Publishing
I’m not much for rants. Writing them, not reading them, I enjoy Ruth’s rants. LOL. If you ever visit my blog you see that for yourself. But this is one of those times when I just have to say something.
I’ve been out of town for the last week and was going through the 90 emails still waiting for me in my I accumulated inbox (if you want to know why go to http://stephanniebeman.com), and I read a few of the posts Ruth made on the writing forums as well as the comments made on the forum. This idea that true or traditional publishing isn’t self-publishing is a load of bullshit. I’m so tired of hearing the same thing over and over again about self-publishing not being traditional publishing. Does no one know the history of publishing?
Publishing started out as the author of a work writing out their stories, formulas, scientific work, etc and sharing it with others, who copied the work. As early as the 3rd century AD there are books documenting everything from medicine to religion to perfumes to alchemy to food prep to history. Publishing houses didn’t even exist until the Romans started what would later be a model for publishing houses. They used slave labor to copy the dictation of stories for the libraries of the wealthy. Sound familiar?
Since the beginning, publications (newspapers, pamphlets, books, etc.) have been self-published because they were written, printed, and sold by the owner of the printer. Only in the last century has the roles of author and publisher truly been separate entities and self-publication became unusual and undesirable.
And history is repeating itself. For centuries people fought the censorship and oppression of the written word and ideas by printing their own books and pamphlets for the masses to read. Books that are considered classics now, were at one time self-published and even rejected by publishers unwilling to take the chance on those that were unknown, wrote about obscure or controversial topics, or because of their writing, their style, or their genre.
When did our society became so anal that freedom to express ourselves has to be deemed worthy by publishers out to make a buck? When did they become so prudish that innovation is squelched through threats and degrading remarks? When did storytellers and bards stop being welcome to table for a nights entertainment? Where would our world be if authors hadn’t decided to undermine the business model of publishers by continuing a long tradition of printing their own books? Where would we be if we bowed to those claiming to be credentialed authorities on any given subject matter and waited for their permission to contribute to public debate and literature?
Where would we be if authors such as William Blake, Virginia Woolf, William Morris, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy), Stephen Crane, E.E. Cummings, Oscar Wilde, Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence), Edward Tufte, Elynn Harris, Matthew Reilly, Howard Fast (Spartacus), D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Paine, Christopher Paolini (Eragon), Edgar Allen Poe, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, G.P. Taylor (Shadowmancer), Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Deepak Chopra, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box), Zane Grey, Rudyard Kipling, Ezra Pound, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Carl Sandburg, Gertrude Stein, John Grisham (A Time to Kill), and Stephen King decided not to self-publish? We would be without some of the most influential authors and their stories?
Rant done…for now. Wow, that was strangely liberating. I might just have to try this more often. LOL. Feel free to comment, I’d love to hear you opinion on the subject.