Let's take a look at a few of them.
1. Self-Published Authors Are Not Serious Authors
Are there some self-published authors out there who do not take their work seriously? Sure. In this electronic age, it's frighteningly easy to publish a book. Literally anyone can do it. What that means is that a lot of crap is getting uploaded to online retailers like Amazon and iBooks. A lot of people are cranking out novels in a couple of months, giving them a couple of quick proofreads, saying, "Meh, looks good to me!" and hitting the publish button. It happens. Don't believe me? Start a review blog and wait to see the kinds of books that come your way. It can be scary at times.
But do all self-published authors (who, by the way, often prefer the moniker indie authors) publish their books this way? Heck no! Since I began my own publishing journey two and a half years ago, I've met numerous fellow indies who take their writing very seriously. A rough draft. A proofread. A second draft. Emailed copies to a few trusted beta readers. Another rewrite when the betas' advice comes rolling in. Another proofread. A professional edit. A final draft. One last proofread. Off to the formatters. Then another proofread to make sure nothing wacky happened in the formatting process (it does sometimes). Then they hit publish. That's not a knee-jerk decision. That's a book that's been polished and re-polished until it shines. Is it possible that someone missed something in all those proofreads and edits and rewrites? Of course. No one's perfect. But there are some darn good indie books out there. I know because I've read a few.
2. You'll Never Have Big Success Self-Publishing
Let's face it. Being successful in the entertainment industry is a crap shoot. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't. And the indie book market is saturated right now, making it hard for anyone to get noticed. But here's the thing...are you more likely to make it big if you go the traditional route? If you get picked up by a big publisher who believes strongly enough in your book to put some major marketing muscle behind it, sure. You'll make it big. But how often does that happen? How many authors try traditional publishing and then give up because the querying process is just too grueling and it takes so long to hear back from someone regarding their book? And then, the response is likely to be a rejection. It can take years to get a traditional publisher to take an interest in your work. Years in which you could be happily selling your self-published masterpieces on Amazon.
And, by the way, some indie books do make it big. Some examples include The Martian, Still Alice, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Wool. There are many others. And yes, a lot of the indie books that have gone big were eventually picked up by traditional publishers. I'm not criticizing the traditional route at all. If a representative from Penguin Random House showed up at my door with a hearty paycheck and a desire to purchase the rights to Amelia's Children, I'd be sorely tempted. It wouldn't be an automatic yes. It would depend on what they were offering and how much creative control I'd be able to maintain with my story, but I can guarantee my eyes would sparkle at such an offer.
But here's the thing. If a big publisher actively seeks out an indie author, it must be because that author is already doing well. Publishers aren't going to take a gamble on a book they don't think they can sell.
3. Self-Published Authors Will Never Become Great Authors
I'm talking about writing ability here. You see, there's a lot of soul-searching that is done during the querying process. When those rejection letters come (and they always do), an author must re-evaluate his work to try and determine whether the rejection was just a timing issue (the publisher isn't looking for that particular book right now) or if it's a quality issue (the book's not good enough to be published). If it's a quality issue, and if the author is serious about his work, he will actively try to improve.
Then the coveted acceptance letter comes along and the editing process begins. Suddenly new eyes are looking at your precious baby and finding things that are just a little on the wonky side. Suggestions are made. There are things you need to change. And through this process, you gain a better grasp of what works and what doesn't.
The myth (which is really a generalization) is that self-published authors skip over all that and therefore never learn what works and what doesn't work in a book. But is that really true?
Have you ever visited Goodreads? Have you seen some of the reviews on there? Serious readers will happily tear a book to shreds if it doesn't live up to their standards. It's in an author's best interests to solicit reviews from some of these discerning readers so they can get real feedback on their books.
Of course, all this is happening after publication. Better to get the scathing reviews from beta readers and editors before presenting the book to the world. And this is certainly an option for the indie author. Sure, a lot of them, especially if they are just starting out, cannot afford a professional editor, but everyone knows someone who can be an extra set of eyes looking at that manuscript. And every critique counts, believe me.
Another great way to get some brutally honest feedback is to seek out professional reviews. Last year I entered one of my books in the Writer's Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. I did not win, but one of the perks of entering is that all submissions receive a critique from one of the judges. In that critique, I was made aware of some things I was doing in my writing that I didn't even realize were problematic. You can bet I'll have my eyes wide open for those mistakes in future books.