From The Huffington Post:
The topic of self-publishing, which I include to mean both printing one’s own books and paying a so-called vanity press, is one that generates heated debate about its place in the literary marketplace. On the positive side, self-publishing has freed frustrated book writers from having to scale the mostly impenetrable fortress known as the book industry and bypass those who hold the keys to the castle, namely, literary agents, editors, and publishers.
The fact is that a few self-published books have had great success and the authors have since received contracts from established publishers, for example, Amanda Hocking, who has sold more than 1.5 million copies of her self-published books, and E L James, the author of the Fifty Shades trilogy.
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At the same time, the self-publishing industry has allowed anyone with a computer and a small amount of money to call themselves authors. Not long ago, I read a fascinating article in the New York Times (unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it when I did an Internet search) that questioned whether self-published authors should be called published authors. Rather, the article suggests, they are book writers who have their books printed. There is, I believe, a significant difference between authors published by traditional houses and self-published books in that the latter lack the processes that we can count on to ensure a minimal level of quality, both of content and style.
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Whenever I meet someone who tells me they are an author, I always ask who their publisher is. If they hem and haw, I know they self-published because they also know that their state of authorhood lacks a certain legitimacy that comes from having a traditionally published book.
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To put self-publishing in perspective, self-published books rarely ever find a place in brick-and-mortar bookstores and they get buried in the websites of online booksellers like amazon. And about 99 percent of self-published books sell only a few hundred copies at most, so even if the next work of literature is self-published, it still will probably not ever be discovered.
Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Marta for the tip.
The author seems exquisitely sensitive to matters of social status. Since his bio line describes him as ”adjunct faculty,” perhaps an explanation lies there.