SO I read a great article called “Real Writers Don’t Self Publish” which was a response to a piece in The Guardian about that very topic. While there are some truths to the myths the author points out (such as an increased time spent marketing instead of writing) some of those myths are complete fabrications. For example, Myth#8 is Traditional Publishing Creates a Far Superior Product.
Myth#8 is just flat-out untrue. Not only, as the article points out, some books have horrendous covers, I would argue the content is a factor. Look at the music industry: we have had Nickleback and Nicki Minaj forced into our ears for so long that many people don’t even know what good music is and complain if you put in something with real substance. Compare a guy like Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole with Beyonce–or heck, anybody ARTIST who had success like Bob Seger or Johnny Cash, with Beyonce who plays no instruments and uses autotune which casts even her ability to sing in shades of doubt. Here’s the rub: the big industry is concerned with following a formula and selling the specific brand of “stuff” that they have artificially created a market for (you know, like “Chinese” buffets and MSG.) This model actually stifles creativity and shrinks the breadth of work that we have available and limits the kind of stories that we see produced.
While there is always some nugget of truth in a mythos, here is the relevant truth here: traditional pieces typically have better editing and more concise/refined language because the content has been more thoroughly reviewed. It’s not that “traditional house” stories are better, it’s that they’ve had more professionals refine a work because they have a system in place to move a product–even if it’s otherwise mediocre. I’m not saying traditional houses have less talent or less imagination–I’m saying that sometimes it’s the case (just as with the indie world) but when it happens, traditional publishers can get away with it and still move units, make money, and look golden.