Self-publishing & Literary Value

I was recently over at the Overland blog and found some really interesting discussion taking place in response to the ‘open letter from Salt publishing’. It was interesting that as part of this discussion, the topic of self-publishing was raised and it’s worth debated.

The self-publishing debate is one that has been raging for many years …

So, here’s a couple of links that I have unearthed that provide some interesting reading on the topic of self-publishing.

First up an article from The Washington Times – Self-publishing finds commercial niche in digital age

And this article from the Self-Publishing Review – What is Literary Value?

The question, ‘What is literary value’, is something that I would love people to respond to, as I think it is a question that needs more open discussion.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts …


Filed under poetry & publishing

8 responses to “Self-publishing & Literary Value

  1. We may be to the point too, some day not too far away, with a generation brought up on Kindles and COOL-ERs, and “books” made of paper and ink and glue are in museums and antique shops.

  2. littlej

    Hmm…i might need to think a bit longer on my definition of ‘what is literary value?’ but I certainly think the attitude towards self-publishing is changing. I think digital publishing will increase the value of the ‘book as art’ object ie self-published books in small print runs, beautifully presented. Whether the text within contains any literary merit would still need to be determined by an audience.

  3. Well one thing I think we can say for sure is that who publishes you is no measure of literary quality. Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Beatrix Potter, Thomas Paine , Edgar Allan Poe ,T.S. Elliot , Carl Sandberg – Gertrude Stein, Upton Sinclair, D.H. Lawrence, George Bernard Shaw, e.e. cummings, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Crane, all self-published to get their careers going. On the other hand look at the lists of the major publishers today, not a lot of really creative original writers and it will only get less and less as the commercial imperative tightens. One thing about measuring literary merit I do know is that we shouldn’t be unquestioning about it and just accept what we are told is good. Literature is not medicine, being hard to read or swallow doesn’t mean it’s good.

    • Your comments are spot on, Paul! I work at a public library and am continually disheartened by the phenomenal amount of checkouts the thrillers and mystery books receive. When a novel about characters, plot and self-realization actually plunks down in the return bin, I hold it up for sheer joy! It’s a rare occassion unfortunately…

      I’m not saying there’s no place for commercialized fiction (I love some pretty bad sitcoms and reality TV as well), but who’s to say that publishing houses are the only “legitimate” judge of a novel’s literary worth? I’m still undecided about the world of self-publishing, but you’ve given me some great stuff to think about.

  4. ashleycapes

    I like that last bit, Paul, a fantastic way to put it.

  5. Pingback: The ongoing question of Literary Value « Another Lost Shark

  6. Liv

    I read something somewhere about literary value being linked to how much insight the piece offers into the human condition; how much it makes the reader think, as opposed to offering page-turning thrills.

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