Self-Publishing and the Persistence of Bias

I ran across it again today. Someone blogged about @twitterlit and their twice-daily tweeting of first lines from novels. The blog said if I wanted to nominate my first line, I should follow this link, so I followed the link, and there it was, again, bigger than fresh stinky poo-poo:

Suggest a first line for TwitterLit!

Have a great first line you’d like to see on TwitterLit? Let me know about it by filling out the form below.

But wait! Not every first line can make the grade. The ground rules are:

1. It has to grab me.
2. I have to be able to verify it.
3. It has to be available via Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk.
4. No self-published books please.

Ok, I added the emphasis, but the point remains. All self-published books are bad. All bad books are self-published. All self-published books are should-never-have-been-published books. All authors who turn to self-publishing do so only after having been rightfully turned down by every “real” publisher on Earth.

Hogwash. Tripe. Horse feathers. Also poppycock, tommyrot, huftymagufty, and balderdash.

The fact is that self-publishing and micro-presses are the future. Get used to it. The fact is that some of us are self-publishing for other reasons, more to do with the gate-keeping practices of the “traditional” publishing houses than with quality. The fact is that those gate-keeping practices have nothing to do with quality. They’re there to ensure that what gets published can make a gazillion dollars a year with movie rights, TV rights, action-figure rights, embossed-tin-lunch-pail rights and who knows what else. Walk into a bookstore these days, you’ll see a million things that have nothing at all to do with books except the name that’s emblazoned on them. Nothing at all to do with quality, and yet the bias marches on.

You can’t get a self-published book reviewed. Book publicists don’t want to handle them. Bookstores won’t carry them. I donated copies of both of the books I have published so far to my local library system, and the fiction selector told me, after telling me how much she liked my books, after putting them in the collection, that she never accepted self-published books. I said “Well, you just did.”

So here’s my small effort to change the world and hasten the arrival of the future. I’ll review your self-published book. Maybe. Email me your first thousand words (or so), pasted into the body of the email. Send them to levi@levimontgomery.com, from an email address I can reply to if I want to read the rest of it. I don’t care about author bio, or platform, or publishing history, or any of the rest of it. Send me your first thousand words. Be prepared to send the book if I like it, and be warned: I’m old. Well, not, but I’m older than all these kiddies on the internet. Point is I don’t like to read on screen, so you’re going to have to pony up the couple of bucks to mail me a hard copy of your book.

I’ll review it (and I’ll say what I think, ‘cause I’m not known for tact), and all three of my readers can read the review.

Spread the word. Who knows, maybe we can jump-start something.

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