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Well, This Is Awkward

For the third time in less than a year, I've seen someone who attended Viable Paradise mention feeling uncomfortable discussing self-publishing with most Viable Paradise folks.  One writer was hesitant to even mention the fact her work is up for an award because it's self-published. Another mentioned being careful not to discuss self-publishing plans at all at the workshop based on a couple of overheard comments.

My own VP experience came when self-publishing was still new enough that it wasn't much of a conversation topic. The comments directed toward self-publishing were fewer than a handful, and easily brushed off as an "early days" sort of thing. The landscape has changed much in the last three years.

So I'm curious about this. I'm not in need of campaign to make it different, but I certainly would want to add a disclaimer to my annual Viable Paradise posts if self-publishers would leave the workshop feeling like they couldn't be honest with their classmates and instructors.

If Viable Paradise wants to maintain a more exclusive focus on trade publishing, there is nothing wrong with that. I simply would want to make a note of it when recommending it to others so those choosing to solely self-publish don't end up having to choose between feeling awkward or keeping quiet.

Please understand I'm not looking for a list of VP folks who self-publish as "proof" of self-publishing support. I'm interested in what happens at, and is discussed at, the actual workshop. Honestly, I've read enough off-hand comments on various platforms to believe folks who self-publish would think twice before applying and attending. (And I'd guess those making the comments would wonder what all the fuss is about...)

If you don't feel comfortable answering here, feel free to send me a direct message.

Again, I'm not looking to start an argument. Just honest assessments so I can steer folks in the right direction.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2014 09:08 pm (UTC)
I'd be really surprised. The only comment I heard from an instructor was Teresa Nielsen Hayden talking about how she has self-published in the past, and mentioning the problems with self-publishing: getting the word out, how tough it is to get professional editing/copyediting/production stuff. If there was any mudslinging, it wasn't around me.

I would have been happy to talk self-pub to anyone, but the subject never came up.
Nov. 1st, 2014 07:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you for weighing in! The year I went, Teresa and I chatted a little about self-publishing -- along the lines of which known voices that would be helpful and which ones would be... less so. :)

I suspect the feeling some people get comes less from what happens at the workshop itself and perhaps more from social media forums here and there. There is still enough sensitivity that even small and indirect comments can cause a person to step back from the topic. (And I think that's actually an odd emotional holdover from agent/publisher shopping.)
Nov. 1st, 2014 07:52 pm (UTC)
That makes sense. And the instructors have no say, of course, over how past VPers talk about self publishing--or anything else.
Nov. 1st, 2014 07:54 pm (UTC)

Yeesh, I'll be so glad when this whole transition thing settles down. And I do believe it will, eventually, just as the "online magazines don't count as professional" hubbub did years ago.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Blair MacGregor

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