Sorry for borrowing from one of my favorite TV shows of all time (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but I have to ask the traditional publishing industry a question – are you really that frightened of indie publishing that you have to resort to dogma, FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt), and slander? Seriously? Come on, we’re all adults here right?
Okay, we’re not all adults here. In fact, we’re all a bunch of creative artists and we know the temperament of artists. I kid, lovingly. But I do have a bit of a beef here. Let me explain…
I understand where this is all coming from. Ultimately we all really just want to sell a product. Regardless of how we get there, we want to see those sales shoot out the roof. No matter if we go the traditional route or the indie route (Note: I refuse to use the “self-pub’d” lable), the important thing is that the work gets into the hands of the readers and the readers enjoy said work.
But there is one component of all of this that can’t be denied. Anyone going the indie route has a very low overhead. For example, I do all of my formatting and covers. My beta readers do their thing for free (bless you all). I do pay Create Space when I get proofs (but that is a pittance). The biggest cost to me is my editor — and that is a cost well spent.
Traditional publishers, on the other hand, have a ton of overhead which must be recovered for every book published. So they have a very vested interest in keeping the pond as small as possible. Unfortunately for every indie author that jumps in, the pond grows ever-larger, thus cutting into their bottom line (and ability to pay their authors.)
This kind of thing happens all the time. It’s a price war with a twist of David vs. Goliath. But the thing that gets me is that the traditional publishers are lashing out at the authors they’ve probably already scorned once or twice (or thrice or more) by rejecting book after book after book. And they can stake claim to “We rejected this writer’s book and now they think it’s still worthy of publishing.” They lash out with ridiculous insinuations, saying things like: “Many new authors are rushing headlong to self-publishing sites, forking over their money to get their books on the market as soon as possible without consideration for what they’re really doing.” (Read the full article the quote came from here.)
Well, of course there will be writers rushing headlong into the process without considering what’s in store. And then they either learn and change or they drop out. But the same holds true for traditional publishing. Nearly twenty years ago, when I wanted to be a published author, I was clueless about what to expect. So I tossed together a manuscript and submitted it to a publisher with a piece of crap query letter that wouldn’t have been able to sell the first Harry Potter book to the first publisher that turned it down.
Ooooh jinkies, did I go there? I did.
I have been rejected for the strangest reasons. For example — Gothic too easily crosses genres, which traditional publishing doesn’t know how to market. I have many writer friends that have been rejected for the craziest of reasons (One was told her book was “too good”!) So that argument against the indies doesn’t hold water.
And, while we’re at it traditional publishers, could you please stop using the phrase “self published”. When someone includes beta readers, editors, and more in their process, that is not self-published. I have four publishers I work with – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Create Space. I personally do not have the facilities to publish and distribute books on my own.
Look, this doesn’t have to be an “us” vs. “them” any more than the music industry had to make indie musicians refusing to sign with a corrupt industry an “us” vs. “them”. But the truth of the matter is, it is. The traditional publishers do not want indie authors taking away their bottom line any more than indie authors don’t want traditional publishers refusing to give us the recognition we so deserve.
For many of us, we have worked long and hard to get where we are. Sure, our sales have yet to sky rocket (some have though), but they continue the steady climb up the hill to success. But know this, every time the traditional publishers try to knock us down, we will simply get back up and continue on our journey with even more persistence. Unlike traditional publishers, we indie authors are a community. In the end community will win out.
So can the hate. It’s only making one of us look petty and it’s not “us”, it’s “them”.