I’m being interviewed by another writing site in a few days (this one live, via Skype, with someone in Austrailia – it’s is SO COOL to live in the future), and they were kind enough to send me some of the questions they planned to ask, so I could get my thoughts in order. (Good plan, on their part.)
The last question on the list is a doozy: “Why are you still pursuing traditional publishing for Hidden Things when there are so many other options out there today?”
I’ll be biting my tongue not to say “masochism”.
But there’s a flipside to that question, and it goes something like this: “You have a book that was good enough to get representation from an agent, and which you’re (slowly) bringing in line with a publisher’s desires and looking at some success with actually getting the thing published in the traditional market – getting over the threshold, really. Why are you putting so much time into learning about indie publishing?”
Like the header warns at the top of the page, I’m all about my perpetual projects and daily obsessions. The possibilities that exist out there for authors regardless of how they want to get their work out to a reader are definitely one of my obsessions, and as such, it’s one of those things that will continue to get a lot of posting love from me on this blog. Hopefully it’s not boring folks too much; me, I find it fascinating.
I’ve made a living of walking into completely unfamiliar new businesses every couple years, learning said business, then teaching those in the business about how to do it better — that’s how I pay the bills. One of the things I do in those situations is question the standard operating procedures. “It’s done this way because that’s how we do it” is an immediate red flag to me, and the more I learn about how publishing functions today, the more red-flags I see.
In the movie and music industry, the big companies started to focus only on big-money-making projects, and as a result artists that wanted to… you know… do art (or at least their own thing) went independent. The same focus on big-money-makers has been happening within the publishing industry (thanks in part to consolidation of publishing into a half-dozen meta-imprints), but there hasn’t been the same leap to indie publishing. Affordable tools are out there, the quality-in-production is there; authors have the ability to publish, distribute and market books without any involvement from mainstream publishers, thanks to print on demand (POD), e-book technologies, Web 2.0 and the fact that Amazon is now the #2 bookseller in North America and #1 worldwide — but the authors don’t move, because of the stigma of self-publishing.
Yes, before house-consolidations began, publishers were everywhere and there was truth to the idea that an other only self-published if they weren’t good enough to make it ‘legitimately’. This is no longer true, but the characterization of self-published authors as talentless hacks persists.
“It’s that way because it’s always been that way.”
That’s not survival behavior. It’s not even intelligent behavior, which is puzzling, because it’s coming from intelligent people.
I post a lot on this topic right now because I’m trying to figure it out.