Self-publication and Over-publication

Self-publication has become a huge part of the literary market. This is an extremely beneficial development for budding authors. An article in the Journal of Visual Culture entitled “The Kindle Arrives in Time and Makes Everyone a Publisher” contemplates the benefits of self publication for these unheard-of writers.

Paul Levinson, the author, describes the mindset of traditional publishers: “If your work is accepted for publication and it doesn’t do well, the editor looks bad. If your work is accepted by no one for publication, no one even knows it exists and no one looks bad”. He lists many of the benefits of self publication such as higher royalties, no delays for royalties, and guaranteed publication.

Although I was unable to find any research to support this idea, part of me wonders if maybe this seemingly too-good-to-be-true option will eventually produce too high an influx of works to be published. Previously, there was a weed-out system to keep books entering the market at a certain quality. With no kind of medium between a writer finishing a book and releasing it to the public, will the quality of literature in general enter a downward spiral? And how much will the sheer quantity of such literature rise? It may become much more difficult to find good-quality new authors in the large amounts of low-quality digital work. I think that will be an interesting phenomenon to observe over the next several years.




One thought on “Self-publication and Over-publication

  1. Allison Miehl February 17, 2015 / 4:31 am

    It’s amazing how much self-publication has grown in recent years. You mention that there used to be a weeding-out system when it came to publishing. I think that writers and readers still recognize that books published by actual publishing houses are of a certain quality and that self-published works don’t have to meet the same standards. In other words, I think that people recognize that when they read something that was self-published, they can’t necessarily expect it to be the same quality as something published by, say, Random House. That doesn’t mean that anything self-published is automatically subpar; it just means that readers will be more wary when it comes to finding good self-published content.


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