Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Going Indie

I've spent the last day sick in bed - I have to stop making plans because the universe keeps throwing everything possible at me to thwart them.  :)

I've been thinking more about the whole Konrath/AmazonEncore partnership thing.  I'm only really surprised that Amazon have taken so long to gain some leverage from Konrath and vice versa.  It's kind of perfect really.  The reactions to it have varied wildly.  For some of us, it's a huge deal.  The start of a brand new future.  For others it amounts to yet another indie fobbing off work they can't get published.  The perception of prestige behind traditional publishing is still there.  Although I can see Amazon some day being accepted as a major publisher, albeit through different means as the established sort.  I haven't had the chance to check back on the comments on Konrath's blog but the other day a comment left by a bookseller gave me the impression they felt left behind and even deserted by Konrath's actions.

This is the thing.  Every major decision is going to have a different impact on people.  Some will love it, some will hate it.  In this case, I feel like he's worked his balls off trying to brand himself and earn a living.  So should he turn down a decent offer in case he lets down some of the people who helped him along the way?   I think he has to do what works for him and his family.  Priority one.  What is best for the readers comes next.  Priority two.   If he can't earn a living then he can't look after his readers at all so this is my logic.

I sometimes think people forget that writers are people trying to make a living from a job that is a little different but amounts to business all the same.  We have to sell our words.  People complain about authors spamming the boards and to a point I agree that it is annoying but a lot of people overreact (on both sides) - after all for most of us, it amounts to .35c a sale.  I'm not going to begrudge anyone .35c even if they are annoyingly persistent.  We can't wallow in creativity forever.  At some point we have to get out there and start selling.  Traditional publishing just isn't doing the job anymore.  Publishers aren't investing time or money into marketing all of their authors.  Writers aren't making a living by sitting around and writing beautiful stories anymore.  Things have changed.   Trad publishing isn't the most viable or attractive option for a lot of people anymore. 

The ebook issue isn't the only problem.  The contracts tend to be long term and restrictive in general.  The resulting income isn't enough for the investment.  I don't care what anyone thinks of indies, most people put a lot of time and effort into their work and a lot of writers have the type of personality that forces them to continually improve and up their game.  That's how it is.  If you're going to pour your heart, soul, time, energy and focus into something then you better make sure the returns are worth it.  I can't see a publishing contract giving me the returns I want or need.  I like the control I have.  I like the instant feedback.  I like that I can instantly see how changes I make are received.  I get back what I put into it. 

That's a major point for me.  Our success depends on hard work as well as luck.  It isn't exactly dependent on what other people think are best for us.  Any indie will admit that their sales tend to drop once they stop promoting.  That says a lot.  We can see the results and know that we have to work hard to get what we want.  It's a hard route to take sometimes but for me, it's better than having our rights tied up for years, our WIP being considered at the publisher's discretion and then if it is rejected we still may not be able to do anything with it for years depending on the contract terms.  And I'm sure I don't have to get started on the ebook issue.  Going indie is becoming more attractive.  Making an entirely new path (like Konrath) is becoming the new goal for many of us.  The success stories are attracting more writers to take a second look at what they thought they always wanted.  What do we really want?  Time will tell.  But no matter what happens over the next 5/10 years, the publishing world is facing a major overhaul and I for one am glad to witness it.

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