So much ignorance in one article.
You’re going to read stuff like this on occasion. I’m fine with it being written, I just worry that somebody might believe it.
There are plenty of good reasons to self publish (see my brilliant 3 part series on that very topic, HERE, so this angry post makes more sense), but not according to some people–like this writer. Meanwhile, other successful authors have done it and keep doing it, so who’s smarter? Should you listen to people who say “I can’t do this so you’d better not try” or even “I never tried that so you better not, either?”
I won’t self publish because YOU might look foolish, YOU might embarrass yourself, YOU, YOU, YOU… Shouldn’t it say I won’t self publish because I might embarrass myself, I might look foolish, I, I, I? As in, I am afraid? It sure sounds like fear when “I” is attached, doesn’t it? Of course it does. Because it is nothing but fear speaking. Well, fear and ignorance.
First, a few people who indie published that you might not know about:
Stephen King. Edgar Allen Poe. The guy who wrote the bestselling book that became the blockbuster movie The Martian, Andy Weir.
And a few names you might know as indie authors if you don’t live under a rock:
Hugh Howey, Chuck Wendig, Charles Yallowitz. There are plenty more.
The point is, many authors choose to self publish and traditionally publish, so why not?
But let’s address the stupidity in the article point by point, shall we? Because ignorance is lack of knowledge and stupidity is being incapable of grasping facts that are easily accessible.
“You have to forget writing for a living.”
Nobody I know as an indie author does that. Nobody. And I know hundreds, maybe thousands, of indie authors. You may spend time learning new skills like marketing, but it’s naïve to think that can’t be hired out. Meanwhile, by learning about it, you make yourself a better manager of your product—your book—as opposed to being a slave to the whims of your trad publisher. More on that later, but ask trad authors how often their book got pushed back because it wasn’t the hot flavor of the month, or because of budget restraints, or a new editor came in and wanted a bunch of changes. That’s after the author waited 18-24 months to get scheduled for release anyway.
I do know a person who quit their job last year after self publishing their first novel because the royalty money surpassed the income from their regular job. I know plenty of indie authors whose sole income is writing. And I know plenty who use their royalties as a nice supplement.
I also know a lot who don’t – same as trad authors.
“Self-publishing can make you behave like a fool.”
Lots of things can do that. Like writing a one sided article without doing your homework first. Or doing a video show with friends. Or blogging. Or TWI (Tweeting while intoxicated.) Or almost anything that features you on YouTube.
The indie author shoving their book in your face? Yawn. Because a trad author would never do that. Except they do. A lot. When they have to “help with marketing.” More on that later, too. We’re all gonna make mistakes because we’re excited and we want our friends to share our joy, and there’s no godlike trad publisher angel keeping you from doing stupid stuff, so forget that nonsense.
“Gatekeepers are saving you from your own ego.”
Because the god-angel bestowed unlimited knowledge upon them? Folks, the gatekeepers reading your book are no smarter than you. Maybe less smart, as is often the case. They aren’t out there creating unique, interesting stories, are they? Often they’re just chasing a trend or looking to fill an existing slot at Barnes and Noble as opposed to searching for creative talent, so let’s not pretend otherwise.
“Good writers become good because they undertake an apprenticeship. Serving your apprenticeship is important.”
Good writers become good because they write a lot and read a lot. That’s what the most famous writers have said, anyway, like Stephen King and others, but who are they to listen to?
“You can forget Hay festival and the Booker.”
Maybe you should. “Traditional publishing is the only way to go for someone who writes literary fiction.” Tell that to Hugh Howie – he’s currently sailing around on his yacht. Prizes are important to people who like prizes. Readers are important to writers. I’m not saying prizes don’t help with marketing, but if King and Howey both write books and only one could win the prize, does that mean the other sucks? Of course not. Write what your readers want, not what a prize selection committee wants you to write. That’s chasing the wrong goal. Think of it like the Academy Awards. Do they choose your favorite movie each year? They do not. Star Wars and Raiders Of The Lost Ark were blockbusters that went on to change our culture. They didn’t win the Oscar. (Star Wars was released in 1977; the academy chose Rocky as best picture that year. In 1981, when Raiders was released, Ordinary People won. See my point? Would you rather have created Indiana Jones or Calvin and Beth Jarrett? It’s okay, you can say who?)
“You risk looking like an amateur.”
You sure do. And since you are the boss and the secretary and the marketing department and the janitor, you can quickly fix whatever you may have done wrong. Ebook corrections are usually posted inside of 24 hours. You can also read a book about indie publishing first and not look like an amateur. So there’s that. It’s almost like the writer is saying you will look like an amateur. Actually, I think that’s what the writer is trying to say. (It’s also fair to say that thousands of successful indie authors and millions of readers of indie books disagree.)
The list of absolute crap books released by traditional publishers is embarrassing. Snooki released a book through a trad publisher, okay? Talk about looking like an amateur. You’ve caught typos in trad released books. In general, an indie author can release a book with less quality because nobody’s there to stop them, except the market place, which crushes them along with the crappy trad authors’ books. Reading the sample will cure you of buying a nonquality book 99% of the time no matter who releases it.
“70% of nothing is nothing.”
This, to me, was the best part. The writer says she made nothing for two years as a trad published author. So apparently 15% of nothing is nothing, too.
She would rather languish in self-described poverty than look for ways to improve. Stockholm Syndrome, anyone? As Wendig said, publishers don’t always know how to publish your book. Ouch! Reality!
Look, as I stated earlier, this is a false choice. There’s nothing wrong with working at being published traditionally and indie. Wendig and others have written extensively about it. Hugh Howey has, too.
You’ll have to market in both – you, as a trad author, will still need to build a platform, still need to help market, still need to do signings… and I guess the trad god-angels wave their magic wands to create extra time for you to do that, right? Because working two years for basically nothing means you paid the bills with pixie dust or you had another job.
It’s not an “either/or” choice!
Both methods of publishing can peacefully coexist. And have. In the same author, sometimes. Wendig calls himself a hybrid author. I don’t know what Howie calls himself. Others call him brilliant. That works.
But by learning all that’s required to independently publish, whether you master it or not, you educate yourself enough to hold people accountable as they work with your book. That’s a skill worth having no matter which way you end up going. That’s choosing to step away from ignorance.
I wish more people would do that, actually.
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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great upcoming sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to check out his other works.