Posted by: Phil Anderson | June 1, 2014

Publishers vs. the World

Writing is the easy part of publishing a book. Or, if not easy, at least the fun part. Creating characters and settings, plotting story lines, and building an immersive world with history and culture. That’s what I enjoy.

I’m learning more and more that the hard part is and will be finding people to read what I write.

In the old days, authors wrote books and publishers sold them. Now things are getting more complicated; authors are expected to both write and market their books, while publishers print and distribute them. This basic structure might look like a losing proposition for publishers, since places like Amazon’s CreateSpace will do the work of a publisher with no bureaucracy, simple and easy.

However, there is one more thing a publisher brings: its reputation. A publisher is selective of the manuscripts it accepts, choosing only those that it believes will sell well. Most have a rigorous editing process so they can fix inconsistencies and glaring plot holes as well as grammatical errors and typos. And they have established distribution channels, widely distributed catalogs or book lists, and bookstores that will purchase new inventory based on past success.

On the other hand, independent or self-published books have the opposite reputation. Since anyone can upload a file to Kindle Direct Publishing and create an e-book without any guarantee that it’s been edited or even proofread, it easy to find copious examples of confusing, poorly written, and sometimes embarrassing works of “literature.”

Both of these reputations are gradually eroding. As publishers try to compete, some cut corners to reduce costs, compromising quality. And there are more and more gems to be found in the self-published coal bin. The gap is gradually narrowing, but it’s still fairly wide and will never completely disappear. So what’s an author to do? Persevere on the uphill climb to contract with a reputable publisher, or take the easier road and risk obscurity in a sea of unpolished, amateur e-books?

What do you think? Do you find traditional publishers more reliable? Are you suspicious of self-published works?  Leave a comment and let us know what your experience is.



  1. Stick with a publisher. In today’s world, you’d be better off with someone to back you and not just be put out there with anybody and their Filthy works. Love ya, Mom

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