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Old 08-26-2011, 12:18 AM
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Default Article on why self-publishing isn't "publishing"


The whole "self-publishing vs. traditional publishing" debate is as polarized and as acrimonious as are debates about religion. Unlike religious debates, however, this one isn't pointless.

In a nutshell, the article that I am linking to below that I came across last week says that you can't really call yourself a "publisher" unless and until you have taken responsibility for someone else's work. In the strictest sense that the word is defined, this does not matter, but I agree with the point that he made.

A publishing company is a business, and my favorite term that describes what a business does is "going concern," with an emphasis on the word "concern." (Never mind that in accounting this means that the business is thriving and not under threat of being closed down. I go by John Commons's use of it to mean any organized collective action.) A business survives and thrives based not only on market conditions but on the decisions and the day-to-day actions of people who care about the business and want it to succeed. They don't take a single flat dime home unless they can meet their expenses, especially payroll. Every decision that they make is based on that, including what they publish and in what specific condition or form it will be published. The corollary is that if a book gets published, it has met whatever criteria a publisher has when deciding whether or not that book is able to drive the business. The publisher's name and logo on the cover symbolizes the publisher's willingness to risk the viability of the business, in whole or in part, on that title.

A self-publishing author has none of these concerns. Such a person is interested in being published, and does so without taking the kinds of risks that a traditional publisher takes. To a self-publisher, the books is going to be published no matter what, whether it meets market standards or not. (Please don't inundate this thread with "look at Twilight!" or other "but most of what gets published these days is crap!" posts; been there, done that, have the t-shirt, and I'm sick of the whining. Publishing is a business; live with it.) A case in point is that very few self-publishing authors are willing to spend a lot of money on their own work; they go for e-books, print-on-demand, and other options that entail little or no financial risk. Indeed, self-publishing flourishes today because of relatively new technologies that make it a low-risk endeavor. Few self-publishing authors are going to pay two or more professional editors to work on their manuscripts and fewer still would make sweeping, extensive, or even fundamental changes to them if the editors point out flaws in them; they're paying for it, they want it published, and that's that. (Again, please don't bore me to death with tales about outliers and others who are exceptions to this rule. They are as relevant to this discussion as are those who survive gunshot wounds to the head are to discussions about public safety.)

Traditional publishers operate as any other business because they have no choice but to do so. Self-publishers don't. Traditional publishers have the track record of everything else that they have published before as a guarantee to the consumers that everything that they are publishing now will be just as good, if not better. Self-publishers leave the onus of determining quality on the consumers, and only those consumers who actively seek out self-published books to read.

Take a look at the article, and then do a little thought experiment: ask yourself how much you are willing to do, how much time you are willing to take, and how much money you are willing to spend on your own book if you are going to self-publish it; then do the same thing for another book, that is written by someone who is not your friend. If there is any gap at all between those figures or if you make any equivocation or qualification at all to your answer, then you are basically proving every point that I made above and every point that the author of the article linked to below made, too.

http://publishingperspectives.com/20...erspectives%29

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Old 08-26-2011, 03:19 AM
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I respond not intending anything personal, but in order to offer up an opposing view.

You have not allowed adequate concession for the long history of publishing.

It seems that your arguments surround your understanding (or rather that of the article) of the meaning of words you are trying to use to devalue non-corporate sponsored publications. ie books by people who choose not to sign contractual agreements with a corporation that has interests in mass publication of literary works. I believe you devalue the meaning of those key terms and I fail to understand why you have a loathing of such. For the purpose of this post however, I am focusing purely on the terms and not on your beliefs or opinions of any given group.

Publishing companies came late to the act of publishing. The term publish, and the related terms publisher, publishing, and published, are not in any way related to financial concerns beyond the actual act of offering a product for sale. Further, at no point in any accepted concrete definition of those terms is a specific requirement in language made that the person or company responsible for the act of publishing must not be a principle creator of the material. In fact, in earlier definitions, it was quite the opposite and a publisher was a creator of textual material.

The existence of publishing houses came about to facilitate a path to publication and a method of financial gain from a publishing service. Createspace is closer to those earlier publishing houses than their descendants now are. It changed along the way to what we have now. Prior to that, it did require some wealth. The works published before publishing companies existed as we know them were indeed self published, and were indeed published. there is no question of that. Then the new guys came along and what we now call traditional publishing was born. It was in this time that vanity publishing came about as a term, referring to only those who printed enough copies for family and friends and that is all. Vanity publishing involved no sale of goods and was considered very different to self published works of a commercial nature. Small printers that were not related to the new publishing houses (which put many such printers out of business interestingly enough) would do small runs for vanity publishing, and larger runs for commercial "self" publishing. (the term self was only added after the large commercial publishing houses entered the picture).

The time when the publishing houses were born was a time of great innovation. Change and new methods for the pressing of text were appearing that allowed them to come into being, but the terms related to their activities predated that time. As such, this strange notion that the only publisher is a traditional publisher (as we now call them) is absurd.

Regarding the misuse of these terms to debunk independent publications, you are wrong. I will support this simply with the following:

dictionary definitions (you can find plenty such on line or on your book shelf):

pub·lish (pblsh)
v. pub·lished, pub·lish·ing, pub·lish·es
v.tr.
1. To prepare and issue (printed material) for public distribution or sale.
2. To bring to the public attention; announce. See Synonyms at announce.
v.intr.
1. To issue a publication.
2. To be the writer or author of published works or a work.

pub·lish·er (pbl-shr)
n.
One that is engaged in publishing printed material.

publisher [ˈpʌblɪʃə]
n
1. (Communication Arts / Journalism & Publishing) a company or person engaged in publishing periodicals, books, music, etc.
2. (Communication Arts / Journalism & Publishing) US and Canadian the proprietor of a newspaper or his representative

Last edited by M R Mortimer; 08-26-2011 at 03:41 AM..
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Old 08-26-2011, 03:51 AM
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We have a printing press in my local town that has been 'self-publishing' for around 200 years, it published some of the most important scientific works of the 1800s - it still self publishes and as a result we have an area with libraries that accept local authors and bookshops that can be considered. Both will highlight authors they like.

If someone intends to make a success of any kind of publishing marketing is needed - the brand is formed etc

Words and industries evolves. These days I tend to find self published a selling point all of its own - it isn't tied to the conservative nature of the main publishing industry.

Am I going to take on responsbility for another's work if I self publish - umm no hence the prefix self. Do I take on responsiblity for the quality and branding of my own work - umm yes.

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Old 08-26-2011, 01:41 PM
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my mother always used to say,'Don't reply, you'll only encourage him.' and she was right, this is just the same old regurgitated cud he's been spinning since he came on forum.
regards
D
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Old 08-26-2011, 01:59 PM
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Aww but it's fun
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Old 08-26-2011, 04:51 PM
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A case in point is that very few self-publishing authors are willing to spend a lot of money on their own work; they go for e-books, print-on-demand, and other options that entail little or no financial risk.
I suspect most do that because they do that because they don' HAVE the money for more. They take still more of a financial risk writers who use a "traditional" publisher.

Let's apply this logic to something else. I buy some of my jewelry-making supplies at the dollar store, so I spend very little money on it, and sell my work at non-juried festivals and fairs, so it doesn't have to be judged to be accepted. Am I less of an artisan than the ones who sell at in stores and at jurried festivals and markets?
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:11 AM
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Icon6 The Internet Solves Everything

Once you have your book in an ebook format, It literally takes minutes to "self publish". You don't need an expensive ISBN number or a publisher. Plus by selling on any major ebook market you are instantly reaching millions of potential readers.

you can even get your book personally converted into a ready-to-upload ebook for any market for less than $20.

If you're interested in self publishing through ebooks, check out my profile for a link to my site. I do personal ebook conversions on the side. They all come with unlimited free revisions and a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you know there won't be any formatting problems like with automated programs.

Hope this helped
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:35 PM
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Let us count the lies and obfuscations

Originally Posted by GravitysRainbow View Post
Once you have your book in an ebook format, It literally takes minutes to "self publish". You don't need an expensive ISBN number or a publisher. Plus by selling on any major ebook market you are instantly reaching millions of potential readers.
You need an ISBN to publish on the iPad book store:

http://www.apple.com/itunes/content-.../book-faq.html

And Barnes & Nobles

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/help/cds2.asp?PID=8153

...and others. It's not an option. It's a requirement. If you're American, then you have to pay for it. If you come from another country, then it's either heavily subsidized or it's free. No vendor, online or otherwise, will accept your book unless it has an ISBN unless you are dealing with a scam.

Originally Posted by GravitysRainbow View Post
you can even get your book personally converted into a ready-to-upload ebook for any market for less than $20.
You can do it yourself for free, with zero effort:

http://www.lexcycle.com/faq/how_to_create_epub

Originally Posted by GravitysRainbow View Post
If you're interested in self publishing through ebooks, check out my profile for a link to my site. I do personal ebook conversions on the side. They all come with unlimited free revisions and a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you know there won't be any formatting problems like with automated programs.
Save your money and do it yourself, rather than paying someone to do something that most of the online services do for you anyway.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by M R Mortimer View Post
Publishing companies came late to the act of publishing. The term publish, and the related terms publisher, publishing, and published, are not in any way related to financial concerns beyond the actual act of offering a product for sale.
I don't care what happened 600 years ago. Today, the public has standards and they expect quality. One guy, whether he spends thousands of dollars on an offset print job or just puts out an e-book for zero overhead does not have the expertise to do what a company can do with its combined resources; nor does he have the will. he wants his book to be published, period. Quality is a secondary consideration for such people. Publishing companies keep writers honest. 600 years ago, the trade was so new that nobody knew what quality was because no standards had evolved yet.
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Old 08-29-2011, 04:58 AM
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I gave you the benefit of the doubt before, but now you're just being rude and insulting. You're pushing an agenda that big business is smart and cares more about doing something of high quality than making money, and that individuals who want to do things on their own are stupid and only care about money. You say that individuals won't spend the money, but the fact is, they CAN'T, and aparently that is what makes them worthless.

Individuals are perfectly capable of hiring an editor and graphic artist if they have the money. Just because you are self-employed does not mean you are not as good as someone working for a company. And in fact, as far as I understand, cover artists are all freelance anyway.

Publishing companies don't publish things because they are good, but because they think they can sell it. Big difference. It is not possible to lump all self-publishers into one category.

Nobody here believes you are an editor anymore.
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Old 08-29-2011, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Rei View Post
Nobody here believes you are an editor anymore.
I don't think anyone ever really did, did they?
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:42 PM
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600 years? hardly. You think people haven't always demanded quality? how about we demand it of your 'arguments'?

Amazon does not require an ISBN *for ebooks. several other big sales venues are the same.

You are arguing on an agenda. You are telling things that are simply not true.

I do my own cover art. I am QUALIFIED to do so. I have had my artwork exhibited on invitation in the national gallery. So should I pay for somebody else to do it? I am a former English teacher, But I DO still pay an editor as like most of my counterparts I recognise that editing is something nobody can do of their own work.

Self published authors who do not do all they can to achieve quality are not the norm, they are the aberration. Among alleged editors, so are your opinions.

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Old 08-29-2011, 05:58 PM
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Interesting post AE, and,for the most part, predicable responses.
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Old 08-29-2011, 09:00 PM
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Interesting? Perhaps. Accurate? Certainly not.

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Old 08-30-2011, 03:10 AM
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I have some excellent self published works on my shelves.
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by M R Mortimer View Post
You are arguing on an agenda. You are telling things that are simply not true.
That's among the more clichéed rhetorical comebacks. Anybody who argues has an agenda. If you have neither goals nor beliefs, then you are either lying or you are dead. I have no doubt that your vehement defence of self-publishing reflects your own agenda.
Self published authors who do not do all they can to achieve quality are not the norm, they are the aberration.
I've read enough self-published crap to have reasons to doubt what you just said. Now, before you bore me to death with "there's lots of commercially-published stuff that's crap too. Look at Twilight!" I will say what I've already said on this forum at least once. Commercially-published crap might be predictable pablum that caters to the so-called "lowest common denominator," but at least it's edited, typeset, and produced by professionals and the book buying public that has expectations of quality are not going to think they were ripped off when they buy it. Moreover, there will have been more than one editor at the publishing company who will have made the decision as to whether or not to publish the manuscript in the first place. That essential filter, by definition, does not exist for any self-published books. Self-published crap, moreover, is not produced with the same care of quality that you describe. I will assert that you are the exception and not the rule.

The whole point of that blog post is that a self-publisher is not a publisher, just like a gardener is not a farmer and a garage sale is not a retail establishment. One is a business, the other is not.
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Old 08-30-2011, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
The whole point of that blog post is that a self-publisher is not a publisher, just like a gardener is not a farmer and a garage sale is not a retail establishment. One is a business, the other is not.
It's a silly non-point. For a self-published author to be successful, he or she has to essentially duplicate what a traditional publisher does. That includes quality control, design, pre-print production etc. and of course, putting the time and money into marketing the product. Success depends on how well the author can do or outsource and manage those things. The scale of it is irrelevant and so is what you call it -- although all of that sounds a heck of lot like publishing to me. People are going to have varying degrees of success, depending on the quality of the product and the sales and marketing strategy and implementation -- just like any other business.

If a gardener manages to grow delicious tomatoes, then he builds himself a little stand and prints flyers and he posts them around town and people come and buy his product -- and they're satisfied with it, then he's doing just what a farmer does -- more in fact. Only on a smaller scale. No, I wouldn't call him a farmer -- but so what? Does that invalidate what he's accomplished?

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Old 08-30-2011, 06:33 AM
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If self publishing isn't publishing why do we give away first rights when we put something up on the internet ?
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:30 AM
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Now you're just being a childish attention seeker. Why don't you behave like an adult and seek positive attention and not negative.
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:53 PM
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If you REALLY were interested in a balanced argument, you would not argue from an agenda. Do you have ANY academic credibility? because this is a great way of losing it. Any debate of this type must be approached from an open position and the conclusions you present driven by facts.

You argue with your facts driven by your conclusion. This closes your thinking and devalues your opinion. THAT is arguing from an agenda. it is NOT what all debate comprises, it is only what WEAK debate comprises.

You refuse to acknowledge that ANY self publisher IS edited or typeset. That makes you a fool. Do you say all people of a racial group are thieves? or that all people of one religion are evil? It's the same type of thinking. If so, you're a bigger fool than you seem. Hard to believe that, but there you have it.

Your primary point in this thread is meaningless and wrong. It is a simple case that does not warrant debate as you have no argument. To compare publishing forms with farming is perhaps the stupidest thing I have ever read on this forum. A farmer grows FOOD a gardener grows FLOWERS. A person growing food in his own backyard is called a MARKET or GARDEN FARMER. The activities of a general gardener and a farmer are completely unrelated.

This thread is dead. You will not talk reason. Goodbye.
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Old 08-31-2011, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by M R Mortimer View Post
Do you say all people of a racial group are thieves? or that all people of one religion are evil? It's the same type of thinking.
I'm calling Godwin on this one.
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Old 08-31-2011, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
If self publishing isn't publishing why do we give away first rights when we put something up on the internet ?
That has nothing to do with first rights and everything to do with economics and your street cred' as a writer. Copyright exists the minute you create something. (By the way, "first rights" is a publishing industry term and not a legal term.)

On the economic front, you've devalued your product by giving it away for free to the entire world. Trying to sell it to a publisher afterwards is going to be hard. Some people might want to pay you for something that you already gave away for free and that, in one form or another, is always going to be up there for free, but don't count on making a living that way.

In terms of street credibility, look what virtually every writer out there says about working for free. In a nutshell, you should only do it if there's no way you're ever going to be paid for the particular work anyway.
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Old 08-31-2011, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post

In terms of street credibility, look what virtually every writer out there says about working for free. In a nutshell, you should only do it if there's no way you're ever going to be paid for the particular work anyway.
That attitude is why those writers wouldn't do well self publishing. To succeed in a lot of fields a bit of volunteer work and ground work laying goes a long way. The number of writers I have met who are complaining about traditional publishers expecting them to promote their own writing instead of doing it for them- because they want to spend writing is unreal. Actually i like the promotion side, because lets face it no publisher is ever going to really love my work like I do or some of my readers do.. I write for fun not for payment the latter is a bonus. The better prize is having people who love my characters - sod the paycheck give me the email threatening me because I have killed off a favourite character or asking if a favourite character can send them something etc.

Giving away writing on my blog is what brings in my writing income. My bestman speeches/personalised humour sketches/gifts etc are bringing me in more than some published authors get by way of royalties after only a year and a more regular income (also take me relatively little time)- it seems to have a much longer shelf life than most tradtionally published works. I am now considering self publishing the stories in booklet form to sell on my website - they have now been heard by more people than the average bestseller will sell. (Average of 200 people at a wedding/civil partnership). Even with my site down I am still getting commissions.

I may not have 'street cred' but I never imagined a story about a fire extinguisher and a bankers lamp, one about naughty fairies and one about an S&M version of Snow White would bring me income.

Now thinking of doing the same with my children's stories (doing them for birthdays). If I got 100 of them comissioned a year that would increase my income and give me a vehicle to sell the books. Again giving away the stories and working for free is what brought the market in.

Writing for free has given me a small market for my fantasy stories. The market is changing and like the digital market has given indie bands chance for a breakthrough it will do the same for authors -- we no longer need a publisher or a massive outlay to get our work out there. The kids I read the work of on sites like figment are amazing and are right now working at marketing themselves. By the time they get to the stage they are ready to go into business with their work they will be professional at what they do. They are also the market of the future and are pretty savvy about what they want.

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Old 08-31-2011, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
That has nothing to do with first rights and everything to do with economics and your street cred' as a writer. Copyright exists the minute you create something. (By the way, "first rights" is a publishing industry term and not a legal term.)

On the economic front, you've devalued your product by giving it away for free to the entire world. Trying to sell it to a publisher afterwards is going to be hard. Some people might want to pay you for something that you already gave away for free and that, in one form or another, is always going to be up there for free, but don't count on making a living that way.

In terms of street credibility, look what virtually every writer out there says about working for free. In a nutshell, you should only do it if there's no way you're ever going to be paid for the particular work anyway.
That sounds like snobbery to me. And you can make money from self-publishing. You get out of it what you are prepared to put in.
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Old 08-31-2011, 08:45 AM
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Basically what he is saying is that your average person cannot polish and present a piece of crap in the same business like manner as the traditional publisher can. On the whole he is correct when you consider the team of experts put to task by the TP all in an effort to make crap look like gold. No one inidividual could come close to pandering to the lowest common deminominator in the way and manner the TP industry does. They are pros at raising mindless drivel to self effacing formulaic horseshit. No one does it better.
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeMatt View Post
If a gardener manages to grow delicious tomatoes, then he builds himself a little stand and prints flyers and he posts them around town and people come and buy his product -- and they're satisfied with it, then he's doing just what a farmer does -- more in fact. Only on a smaller scale. No, I wouldn't call him a farmer -- but so what? Does that invalidate what he's accomplished?
This.

As for first rights? Well, I'm no lawyer but I figure first rights exist for a very legal reason. It means the publisher retains the right to be the first to publish the writer's work. If the writer has previously published their work or publishes it themselves at any point before the publisher without informing the publisher, they're breaching said publisher's rights. The publisher runs a real risk of losing money from lack of sales because the work has already been sold/read/displayed. I'd say breaching that right would likely incur legal action.

Publishing term, maybe, but in action. very real and legal, don't you think, Another Editor? Or have you just got your knickers in a general twist because you fucked up by trying to compare self-publishers with traditional publishers, and are now talking through an increasing hole in your arse to cover your tracks?
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Redlorry View Post
That sounds like snobbery to me. And you can make money from self-publishing. You get out of it what you are prepared to put in.
It is snobbery, and definitely worth giving freebies even if it doesn't lead to more sales of other items. As I said, I also make beaded jewelry, and I know I will be just as happy when give one friend her birthday present as I was when I sold my first bracelet.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:25 PM
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Agreed Rei, a lot of my stuff is published for a price. But a lot I am just happy to have circulating out there with my name on it.

It's my writing and I can do what I want with it.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:53 PM
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Indeed, Lorry.
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Old 08-31-2011, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
I'm calling Godwin on this one.
*FACEPALM*

At no point did I mention those invoked in godwins law. If it enters here, you are the one responsibile. I mentioned biggoted prejudice, of which you display plenty. Nice effort taking a statement out of context and conviniently missing the point entirely. Your invocation of godwins law is irrelevent and uncalled for.

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