MusingsPersonalWriting

Have I Been Corrupted?

I have been talking a lot about indie publishing lately.  Logical since that’s the tack I’ve taken with my novella.  There’s not much room for argument that a well written novella can earn out more self-pubbed in e than it would in print.  Joe Konrath is putting up pretty convincing numbers that suggest that regular novels stand to earn out considerably more in e if they’re well written and priced cheaply.  And big publishing in general has been spending a lot of time showing its ass lately regarding how they are (not) coping with the digital revolution and how little respect they have for readers (without whom they would have no SALES).  I’ve been saying a lot that “if this keeps up, I’m just gonna skip traditional and do this on my own.”

Zoe keeps delightedly asking me “Have I corrupted you?”

Well…

Sort of.  As I told her yesterday, big publishing itself is doing more to convert me than she has.  But what she has done is EDUCATE ME.

The prevailing, popular opinion is that New York published books are better than self published books because they have been vetted by a group of professionals and separated out from the dreck.  What many people don’t realize about this argument is that it implies that readers are stupid and can’t determine quality for themselves and that these professionals have any kind of training or credentials that make them better at it than the average Joe.  And while, yes, based on experience alone, maybe editors and agents do have a better eye than Average Joe, it doesn’t mean they’re right.  Look at how many people passed on Harry Potter.

There is also an ENORMOUS misconception that self publishing equals vanity publishing.  NOT THE SAME THING.

Other than whatever investment you put in your cover, possibly editing, and the price of copyright, it costs nothing more to self publish.   It’s not some huge scam investment where some poor, uneducated bumpkin who couldn’t hack it in traditional publishing gets taken in and has their collection of grocery lists published.

Indie publishing is a viable business model wherein, yes, the author takes on all the risk, but there’s very little outlay.  If it doesn’t work, you’re not out much.  And if it does, you get to keep more of the profits.  I mean seriously, if Joe Konrath can make more selling his ebooks at $2.99 than he would get in royalties off a $24 HARDBACK, there’s something seriously wrong with the money side of things in traditional publishing.

I want to MAKE A LIVING doing what I love.  Period.  It’s very difficult to do that in traditional publishing unless you’re one of the very lucky ones.  I read a statistic somewhere that only 20% of published writers actually make a living JUST writing.  And a lot of those have spouses who work.  That’s one of the reasons my parents encouraged me to get a “real” job.  But I don’t want a “real” job.  I want writing TO BE my real job.  And it’s looking more and more like keeping control of everything and publishing everything myself may be the way to do that in the long run.

It’s a long game either way.

But here’s what I’m looking at.  I’m currently writing the novella sequel to Forsaken By Shadow.  The next thing in the pipeline is a YA trilogy that will be either novella or short novel length (not sure how long they’ll shake out to be yet).  All pretty short stuff because it’s easier to manage shorter stuff while working the three jobs that aren’t going anywhere any time soon.  Those projects will easily take up the next year and a half before I even plan to work on the first novel length book in the Mirus series.  And then, would you look at that, it coincides with our plan to start a family.  Babies = time suck = likely to stick with the short stuff for a while.  So potentially for the next…five years or so, I’m planning on sticking with shorter length stuff that traditional publishing isn’t likely to be interested in.

A lot can happen in five years.  In that span of time I could easily self publish half a dozen or more novellas or short novels, which would be a pretty decent backlist (which, let’s also point out, is a means of getting a backlist out there MUCH faster than I would in traditional publishing).  It is my hope that in that span of time, the passive income stream from my writing will be enough that I can abandon at least all the side jobs, which would (in theory) give me more time to write.  I can’t say the average advance that most new writers earn would allow me to do that.

So have I been corrupted?  I guess we’re down to a great big “We’ll see.”

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12 thoughts on “Have I Been Corrupted?

  1. Kait, I’m eagerly awaiting the outcome of your self-pub efforts. While I’m working on my second novel, I’ll sub out the first in the traditional manner. By the time I’m done with the second, I’ll have a better idea which direction I want to go with publishing, too.

    In the meantime, I’m keeping a close eye on what you and several others in the self-pubbing camp are doing. Fingers and toes crossed for you!

    1. I’ll confess, I’m really intrigued by the possibility of seeing what my work can do entirely on its own (obviously with relevant marketing efforts) without the backing of a big house. I want to see if it REALLY makes that big a difference to consumers.

  2. Babies only suck time for the first 3 years or so. After that the only thing they seem to suck is cash. I’ve got 3, that’s why I’m always so blooming skint.

    In 5 years I seriously doubt there will be much reason to go NY, though I would expect that in 5 years they might get their act together. We shall see.

    1. Exactly. We’re planning on trying in 2 years (once hubs is done with school). Plus those 3. 5 years. 🙂 I think publishing is going to wind up shooting itself in the foot the same way the music industry did before things shake out. And the end result is more leverage for authors themselves.

  3. I’m pro-indie. Who in the heck wants to jump through hoops with an agent that spews snark and spite when all the tools we need are right there for the taking? I think that in 5-10 years agents will be obsolete and peer feedback with be the new reigning factor of make-or-break.

      1. It is totally a two cup morning…

        I don’t think agents will be TOTALLY obsolete. I think for those who do want to deal with New York they are a very valuable asset. But I do think that they will no longer be necessarily the top option.

        1. As an added thought, I feel that they will work more to get good writers. There’s a boom in new writers due to the economy. People will move on the next big thing eventually.

          I remember the days when writers/authors were treated well, regal even. Those days need to come back. Too many authors are celebrating book releases at home with a bottle of cheap wine they bought themselves.

          It’s time to take back that respect. Let them have their slush pile.

    1. Hey Carrie, I totally agree with you here! The agent reign of terror where authors obsess over the “rules” of approaching agents like they are gods and not fellow humans, will soon be over. I figure Nathan Bransford will be about the only agent left standing, because he’s made of awesome sauce.

      I also agree with Chris who said in 5 years we won’t need publishers. I agree. I think anyone with a truly long-term publishing mentality (which we are all trained we are supposed to have) is likely to at least “consider” indie. Maybe ebooks WON’T set the world on fire, who knows, but that’s where I’m hedging my bets. We’ll see how it shakes out. But if I’m right, and I get enough work out there before it really hits hard, and it’s good work, and people are responding to it, then I could stand to gain a LOT.

  4. I’m in overall sympathy with the idea that readers are intelligent and can pick out the good stuff. Unfortunately, the fly in the ointment is that they can’t get paid for reading over and discarding the crap – whereas a professional does. So the professional can weed out a lot of crap that a casual reader simply has no convenient way to sort through. So my answer is yes, a reader could pick out the “good stuff” – except that as a practical matter, they don’t have the resources of time and effort to do so.

    -Steve

    1. True, however, this is the entire point of ratings. Every purchase point (Amazon, Smashwords, B and N, wherever) has a means of rating books. There WILL be people out there who are willing to take a chance on an indie read and will rate it accordingly. THAT is how the good stuff will be elevated from the chaff.

  5. Dude I am SO corrupting you. I don’t care what you say! 😛

    You’re like my special little creation. I feel all proud like Frankenstein when he first created his monster.

    *Pats her own back and stuff*

    Kidding. Kidding. Calm down. 😀

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