Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's Thoughts

I often get strange looks when I tell people I'm writing a book. Not because I'm writing a book, but because I plan on self-publishing. A few years ago, self-publishing wasn't an option if you were serious about your work. Writers would spend years trying to land an agent and a book deal. But with the advent of ebooks (thanks Kindle) and websites like CreateSpace and Lulu, indie authors are flooding the literary market with...great books! Nowadays, I buy more books from self-published authors than I do from best selling or even mid-list authors.

It's no different than let's say, the music industry. Many of our most popular artists got their start in backroom bars or by performing the college circuit getting paid in beer. Musicians promote their music on YouTube, start their own labels and distribute their CD's or MP3's online. One of the reasons American Idol is so popular is because we want to see the no-name underdog see their dreams come true.

So why does self-publishing for authors carry a stigma? Are there just too many books that we cannot afford to flood the market with the good, bad AND the ugly?

We spend big money on Hollywood blockbusters that end up as flops (and unlike online retailers, we can't ask for our money back)  and buy entire CD's for just one good song (admit it, you do). But for some reason, a self-published book automatically equates to bad writing. Sure, most authors who self-publish do so because they've been rejected by agents and/or publishers. But there are a lot of authors who decide from the very beginning they are going to self-publish. Even traditional published authors, like J.A. Konrath (patron saint of self-publishing), are now self-publishing their work.

Is self-publishing any different from being picked up by a small publisher? You don't get advances and you still have to put in the same amount of effort to promote, market, and sell their book.

Are we just book snobs? Do we only consider published books acceptable because they've been vetted by agents and editors?

Sure, being an indie author is not without its drawbacks: a self-published book probably WON'T get the attention of an agent, ever appear on the NY Times Bestseller list, get nominated for an award, or allow you to quit your day job.

These are some of the reasons why I chose to self-publish:
1. I don't want to waste my time querying agents for years so that I can get a pittance of a royalty.
2. I don't plan on leaving my day job (unless of course my books sell).
3. I don't want readers to have to wait a year in between books.

What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. Another thing you can do as a self-published author that you can't do with a house is to break the mold of traditional content in how your story is told. Just a few examples:

    1. If it's a 30,000 word story, it's a 30,000 word story. No pressure to add anything to it to justify the costs of printing and shipping paper. If it's too long for a short story and too short for a novel, you're SOL in the print world.

    2. Your story can be topical. There is no 2 year lag from the completion of the book until it hits the shelves.

    3. Along with the topicality, you don't have to create "editions" if you bring the book up to date. You just upload the new version.

    4. Or, you can do what I'm working on, and add things to the book that could never be done in print versions. External links extra material, images... even video.

    The reality is that nobody gets an advance they can go to Tahiti on any more anyway.


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