I’m not going rail against self-publishing, in and of itself. If you honestly think it’s the best choice for your project, fine. I’d urge you to do it well, but still: fine. Enjoy! If you want to put out a poorly-written bit of nonsense with a cover that looks like a World of Warcraft screenshot, hey: that’s your name on it, not mine. It doesn’t hurt me. And if you put out something outstanding that becomes the Next Big Thing: great! It still doesn’t hurt me.
But self-publishers themselves can be highly annoying, at least the ones who have made themselves into a cult as far as their faith in self-publishing.
From what I’ve seen, it really is a cult. I see the advocates preaching articles of faith, telling others that their path is the one true way, reciting verses of dogma, and attacking non-believers.
And that’s where I have a real issue with it. Often they treat it like publishing is some zero-sum game, and that in order for them to get respect as self-publishers, they have to TEAR DOWN the traditional model. It’s not enough to do well on their own. They have to prove that going the traditional route is the way of the dodo.
A lot of this is based on bad numbers, statistical analysis of only the successful end of the outliers, and a soupcon of good, old-fashioned bitterness. Yes, bitterness. Because much of the tearing down of the traditional publishers (or “legacy” publishers, as they like to say) is based on the idea that since they couldn’t get through the gatekeepers (or, perhaps, didn’t really try because they bought into the impossibility) it cannot be done. It shouldn’t be done, and all you’re doing by trying is buying into the system.
I’ve even seen it going so far as telling people whose success came from their traditionally published book that they should have self-published, because it clearly would have done just as well, and they would have made more money or something. You know, you can make your own webshow on YouTube or Blip.TV, but you never see anyone tell someone who has a show on USA or HBO, “You should have put that on Blip.TV instead!” Of course not.
This all comes from wanting self-publishing to be taken seriously, and they feel that can only happen if the traditional industry is supplanted by their method, rather than supplemented.
It’s really quite simple: if you want to be taken seriously, do great work. Period. The rest will take care of itself.