The publishing houses serve a real function: they decide whether they're willing to undertake the expense of typesetting, cover art, publicity, etc., on a particular project.
If they don't think they can make $$ on the project, they don't do it. THAT doesn't mean the book isn't worthy - it may be the wrong genre for this particular publisher. Or they already have an author who "does that." Or they just don't quite see how to sell it, don't have the vision for it.
But it may also mean the book is inferior.
So, imho, the value of a 'real publisher' is the indication that SOMEONE was willing to invest several thousand dollars up front to make it happen.
-- Lynn --
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
> Ah, this takes me back to the self-publishing panel at Mythcon last year! Thank
> you for chiming in, Alana. I wanted to makeÂ some similar points.
> I am not especially impressed with the description of this novel either, but the
> fact that it is self-published should be beside the point. I think we the
> reading public should make a real effort not to pre-judge books on that basis.
> "This book is self-published? Well, it must be terrible! Read it? No, I'm good,
> thanks", and that sort of thing. David, I know your comment was not solely based
> on the fact the book was self-published; it just gives me an opportunity to
> comment on that general kind of judgment.
> Yes, having a "real" publisher means that some disinterested party or parties
> have read a book and deemed it likely to make enough money to defray the costs
> of publishing it, but of course, that doesn't automatically make a book good,
> any more than self-publishing makes a book is bad. I see a lot of publishers'
> catalogs and, to me as a reader, 99% of the genre fiction being published by
> established brick-and-mortar publishers looks terrible, but there is still
> obviously an audience -- and a big one. (Either that, or the costs of
> traditional publishing have gone down enough to have altered their risk calculus
> The same (i.e., there is an audience) must be true for self-published books. I
> think we have a tendency to assume that self-published implies rejected by a
> publisher, but that is no more than an assumption on our part. In fact, there
> could be many reasons this author published the book himself. He may have never
> even approached a traditional publisher. And conversely, a book's having been
> published by a traditional publisher does not mean it wasn't rejected by ten or
> twenty other publishers first. Lots of people love Dune, and a large, maybe
> equal, number think it's a terrible book; the fact is, it was rejected by more
> than twenty publishers before it made it to print. Having a traditional
> publisher is often assumed to be a stamp of quality, but this is hardly a given.
> I will be the first to agree that there are a lot of bad books being
> self-published (and even more bad-looking books), but the same is true of
> traditional publishing. We just give traditional publishing more benefit of the
> doubt, largely because it's establishment, and we therefore assume it has better
> quality control (it may, but again: an assumption). I think we have to give
> alternative models a chance. If we don't, we're just buoying up a lot of
> traditional publishers who are not really trying very hard anymore.
> My two cents. Others' welcome!
> From: Alana Abbott <alanajoli@...>
> To: email@example.com
> Sent: Thu, January 13, 2011 7:20:39 AM
> Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A new novel about Tolkien
> I don't think being self-published is always a kiss of death. It doesn't
> surprise me that a book of this description and content would be difficult to
> convince a traditional house to publish. That's no comment on whether or not I
> think it will *succeed* as a self-published title, of course! (But there are
> those rare success stories...)
> The web site for the book looks pretty professionally done, and the sample is
> better than I expected. (I acknowledge I went in pretty low, based on the press
> release. *g*)
> On Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 10:26 PM, David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
> >I see from the Amazon listing that it's self-published.Â That's comment enough,
> >I think.
> Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor
> Author of "Nomi's Wish"
> (http://coyotewildmag.com/2008/august/abbott_nomis_wish.html), featured in
> Coyote Wild Magazine
> Contributor to Origins Award winner, Serenity Adventures:
> For updates on my writings, join my mailing list at