That type of free expression should be celebrated, but it is more often criticized. It is a total mystery. Self-publishing’s not perfect by any means, but its positive implications outweigh its flaws.
So I wrote a post about how writers have often not been accepted during their own time. The method of publication should not determine a book’s artistic worth. The book had the same value before and after it was accepted by the artistic establishment. To say otherwise is to say that money determines artistic value. Just wrong. I write:
On the Road was written in 1951 – but it was not published until 1957, towards the end of the decade. Jack Kerouac did most of the writing that’s part of his legacy before On the Road was ever published. Is On the Road a better book in 1957 than it was when it was initially written in 1951? I think most people would say no: publication doesn’t determine worth. The book is the book.
There is something to be said for the magic of a movement. Kerouac’s On the Road wouldn’t have meant the same if it wasn’t a literary phenomenon that represented an entire generation. An argument could be made that if Kerouac was able to self-publish via print on demand in 1951 this would have limited his artistic impact. That’s a fair point, but it says nothing about whether or not the book is more or less worthwhile once it hit it big.
In our world, crap rises to the top- the lowest common denominator is often the most successful, so to say that success equals literary worth makes no sense at all. And who knows, maybe self-publishing can be a literary movement like the Beats, giving rise to artists taking over the system. In this day and age, maybe an On the Road being released through Lulu is exactly what leads to that book’s reputation. It’s a much different environment than 1951. If that’s even a possibility then self-publishing’s got merit, which is why people should let up with the criticism.