Before I say anything...I'd like you to read this article. It's a long one, but well worth the read.
I read it a few weeks ago, while working on the final touches of my (ah-hem) JUST RELEASED self published ebook, and it struck a chord with me. I think Mr. Vinjamuri hit the nail on the head.
As you probably already know, I've been slowly bumbling along my own journey in the publishing industry, finding my way in the crazy roller-coaster world that goes beyond the act of putting words on a page. I've queried, workshopped, edited, conferenced, tweeted and networked with hundreds, if not thousands of people over the past five or so years, and I've learned a few things and made a few mistakes. And when I decided to self pub, it was a long, looooooooong agonizing decision. It makes me kind of grumpy that it had to be that way, but there are so many factors at work here...the biggest being the stereotype (perceived or otherwise) that self-published authors are cop-outs, cheats and worst-of-all...poor writers. Sue Grafton is not alone in her inflammatory comments. She has thankfully since retracted them in a nice apology statement. But there are many, many others in influential places who feel the same way.
I still want to be traditionally published. Who wouldn't want the creative and financial backing of a big publisher behind them? All of those wonderful professionals working to make my art successful? It would be like an actor with their first starring role, or a painter with their first commission. The writing jackpot, so to speak. So why risk the stereotype and self publish?
Because I want you to read my book. Because I think my book is worth sharing. And because I wanted to figure out how to do it myself.
Self-publishing TREASURE IN THE FLAME is a huge risk for me, but I'd like to believe that it's less of a risk than it used to be. We all know publishing is changing, and I'm of the camp that thinks the change is for the better.
The Oxford Dictionary definition of the verb 'to publish' is this: 1. produce a book, newspaper, etc., for public sale. 2. print something in a book or newspaper.
That's it...produce, print, sell. There's no qualification on who prints, who sells. In it's basest form, publishing actually starts with the author selling her work.
In all other art forms, as Mr. Vinjamuri so eloquently reminds us, there are no gate-keepers of creativity. No one to filter what gets sold and what doesn't. If you paint a picture, and want to sell it, you put it in the local cafe and hope someone buys it. If you produce a demo CD, there's no reason why you can't sell it at your brother's bar. In fact, some of the coolest music and art can be found in back alleys and indie shops. It's how a budding artist gets their start. Someone likes their work, they tell someone else, and so on, and so on...
Conversely, if your work sucks, no one buys it. You move on and become an accountant.
So why is the art of writing different? The proving grounds aren't in the publication process. The proving grounds are in the purchase process. In the sell, so to speak. I know that some traditional publishers out there have already figured this out, and self-publishing makes it so easy for them. The budding artist/author does the groundwork and the start-up, tests the waters, and sinks or swims. She sells her stuff, or she doesn't. No matter what the traditional publisher thinks of the actual artistic merit of the work...a sales record will speak volumes to a smart talent scout.
I've noticed that even some savvy agents have caught on to this and are using Twitter to mine for good writing. In the past week I've seen at least two tweets requesting Twitter users recommend their favorite indie writers. What a super idea! And then this morning I hear that one of my favorite self-pubbed authors (Tammara Webber) has inked a BIG book deal with Penguin UK. Coincidence? I think not. She has unknowingly been my mentor in this process. Her covers, formatting and WRITING are impeccable. She's my self-publishing hero. Good writing, smart publishing choices and sound marketing will win in the end.
So as I step out on this crazy adventure of self-publishing, I can only hope that I'll be one of those with solid writing and smart choices. It's my goal to provide written entertainment in my own unique way. It's an exciting time for self published authors...and I'm excited to say I'm one of them. The producing part is finished, the printing part is happening...and the selling? Well, that's up to you.
What are your thoughts on the evolving publishing industry? Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear what you think!
P.S. Only a few more days til TREASURE releases in paperback!