The "Do Indies Need Editors?" post prompted an interesting conversation on Twitter between me and Jason Black (aka p2p_editor), who disagreed with my statement that the consequences of failure for the self-published author are next to nothing.
Black is an editor, but I don't think he was disagreeing on the basis of fear of unemployment -- whether indie authors as a class need editors or not, there's plenty of work for a good editor out there. (As I said, they are to be prized above rubies and chocolate and bacon.)
(Added Note: Didn't realize that this was the Jason Black who runs the Plot To Punctuation blog. A LOT of good material on that blog about craft. Sometimes more into the "editing" thing, but hey, he's an editor.)
What he specifically brought up was a fear that self-publishing has a bad name.
My first reaction to that was... and how is this a problem?
My second reaction though is to ask a question that gets more to the heart of this:
Self-publishing has a bad reputation among whom?
Hate to burst publishing's bubble... but only writers and publishing people care who published a book. Some readers who are publishing groupies will care, depending on what their specific heroes think.
Like it or not, "indie publishing" is not a brand. For that matter, publishing house brands are barely noticed by end readers either. Sure readers have heard of them, you will never hear a reader say "I'm gonna get me one of those books from MacMillan!" Or "I'm never going to read a Simon and Schuster Book again. They suck."
Readers look for genres and authors.
Sure, right now, with all the indie authors running around trying to turn "indie publishing" into a brand, there are a few small groups who think of indie publishing as a genre. But that's just growing pains. The solution to that is to stay away from those people. Try not to promote your books in the same venues, so that your books don't come up with only indies in the "also boughts." Stay away from tagging clubs and don't use promotional short cuts the way they do.
But most of all, quit worrying about your reputation.
Any reputation except the one you earn yourself is overrated. And even that is less important that people think: Somebody is going to sneer at you no matter what you do. It's just not worth the trouble.
And it distracts you from what you really need to do:
Be brave, be fair, do good work.
In the meantime I'd be happy to discuss with anybody the ins and outs and specific ideas and questions in the comments. (Discussing complex things on Twitter is tough.)
See you in the funny papers.