Now available on Kindle. Coming soon on Nook, Apple, Smashwords, and other venues!
So! I took the plunge and now have my first totally independently published short story up. I figured I’d practice and get the kinks out with a couple of shorts before moving on to longer works, but honestly I was very pleased with the results. It only took me three tries to get the formatting, blurb, cover, and other information just the way I wanted it.
Here’s the brief blurb from the Amazon website:
A short story by award winning fantasy writer Kevin O. McLaughlin.
Dragons have long memories, longer than the lives of the warriors who seek to slay them. And when a dragon is wronged, have fear: because the vengeance of a dragon driven to seek justice is a terrible thing, and forgiveness comes but rarely…
It’s pretty heady stuff, putting your own story out there! I look forward to doing more of it. LOTS more – I have a lot of stories to make available, and a lot more stories I’d like to tell.
In other news, I should be getting my printed proof back on “By Darkness Revealed” tomorrow or Thursday. Once I OK the proof, or make changes as needed, I will have that available as well. Hoping to roughly time that with the ebook release. So, soon – very soon!
Having trouble figuring out book format, terminology, typefaces, etc.? Want to know about some of the perils and pitfalls to avoid in designing a good book? I was directed to this site by a tweet from The Passive Voice (another great blog to follow, incidentally, regarding the publishing business in general). Take a look.
Some great articles there. The one on 7 Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Book Design is pertinent for many self publishers. But there’s a collection of other articles there, including a nice one on fonts, and another which walks you through print book terminology, which can be very helpful.
Worth taking a look at, folks!
I’ve been speaking loud and long on this topic over on LinkedIn lately. It’s a growing issue, a problem I am seeing inexperienced writers facing every day. A week does not go by without me hearing from or reading some writer talking about how they “self published” their book through some subsidy press or another.
So I thought it’s time to have another talk about this.
First, some definitions:
Subsidy Press: A publisher who requires an author to subsidize the cost of producing a book. Generally speaking, these publishers charge up front for to format the book’s interior, make a cover for the book, and increasingly these days, to convert to ebook formats as well. Again, with a subsidy press, the writer pays for the work. Then the subsidy press uploads the print book to Lightning Source, and the ebook files to the various ebook retailers, in theory handling this “for” the writer, taking in return a share (generally 50-90%) of profits from sales.
Self Publishing: A writer is also the publisher of the book. This means that the writer is uploading the book to the writer’s accounts at ebook retailers, and that the writer is uploading the print book interior and cover PDFs to the printer. The writer’s publishing business name is the one which will appear on the spine of the book, if any does.
The two are not the same thing. It’s pretty obvious even at first glance that the latter method gets you twice to ten times as much income per sale – so the subsidy press must produce twice to ten times the sales, or twice to ten times the value, for it to be a worthwhile investment. Generally speaking, however, these presses do nothing to market a book after it is produced; they simply upload it to the various sites and let it sit. If the author markets the book, the publisher profits. If the author fails to market the book, the publisher still made their money being paid to produce the book in the first place.
But insidiously, these companies are increasingly calling themselves “self publishing companies” to hop on the bandwagon of writers trying to self publish. With self pub successes like John Locke, Amanda Hocking, and Joe Konrath – and bestselling writers like Barry Eisler and now J.K. Rowlings self publishing – self pub has become the “in” thing to do in many circles. So these companies attempt to take advantage of that and use “self publishing” as their theme.
They’re not self publishing. This is fraudulent advertising designed to take advantage of uninformed writers. No book produced and published by a subsidy press is self published. Subsidy presses are just another traditional publisher with very low standards of acceptance and very bad contracts for writers.
That’s not to say you can’t get help to self publish, though. There are numerous companies out there who will do the same work, for about the same up front fee, but then hand the files over to the writer. There are a goodly and growing number of individuals who offer these services as well. You pay the fee, they do the work, they hand you the files, and you upload the files to your account. You’ve self published. You keep all the post-retailer profits. You’ve simply outsourced some of the work involved in book production – and many publishers do that, from the smallest small presses like yours, to the largest NYC publishing houses.
Here’s my rules for avoiding problem-companies:
- IF a company is asking for you for money up front for your book, THEN that company should be giving you the completed files for formatted interior and cover, and YOU should be uploading those files to YOUR account on Createspace or Lightning Source, and YOU should be uploading the ebook files to Amazon, Smashwords, and Pubit/B&N.
- IF a company is asking for money to produce your book, AND that company is not providing you the files but is instead uploading those files to THEIR accounts, then that company is inevitably, in my experience, a bad partner. If that company is saying that they are helping you self publish, then they are a scam.
Scam is such a harsh word; but when a company is clearly using fraudulent marketing in their attempts to win customers, then I find it appropriate. Websters defines scam as “a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation”. And that certainly fits the bill for many of the companies involved in these deceptive practices. Avoid them at all costs.
Well, while Robin and my little drama was unfolding (thanks again, all, for the outstanding support!), I completely missed the other big news in reading and literature. On June 4th, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Meghan Cox Gurdon about young adult literature. Her take? That YA lit has over the last few decades become something dark and potentially harmful to teens reading it.
The whole article is worth a read, if you haven’t yet. Try not to knee-jerk about it, as you do: look at it from the perspective that this woman is concerned about our youth, and wants the best for them as best she understands it. I disagree with her on quite a lot of points, but her goal, to keep kids safe and help them grow up sound, is a noble one. There’s some good commentary on it here and here. And honestly, google “yasaves” and you’ll see scads more. It’s a hot topic.
I was a precocious reader. I read “The Hobbit” in kindergarten, and the Rings trilogy in first grade. Needless to say, when the RIF van came around with new books, I had a really hard time finding anything to read! I got special dispensation to go check out the tables set aside for the 7th and 8th graders. The books there (things like the Black Stallion books or the Three Investigators novels) were really below my reading level at that point, but were fun quick reads.
But during that year, I brought home one book about a cat, and got my very first lesson on censorship. My mother spotted the book, read some of it, immediately running into scenes where a vile child puts kittens in a sack and tries to drown them in a river. When several survive, all but one then gets eaten by dogs.
My mom, well meaning soul that she was, threw the book out. I was stunned. I’d never been told I could not read something before. Understand, I grew up in a house where reading was a, if not the, primary form of entertainment. We had thousands of books. I had read, well, lots of them. But I’d never been told not to read something. A very small part of me never completely forgave her for that.
Was she right? Maybe. Somehow, I think if I could handle Sauron, RingWraiths, and giant spiders without nightmares, I could manage an abusive jerk hurting kittens. Maybe not. But it definitely impacted my reading. I began reading things quietly. I stopped talking to my mother so much about what I was reading. When I came across a couple of boxes of my Dad’s old pulp novels in 3rd grade, I tore through them without even asking. Alien. The original Conan stories. Jirel of Jory. Fritz Lieber. Lovecraft. Hundreds of others. I didn’t ask, and just as important, I didn’t tell. I’d learned the lesson that reading was something which could be curtailed without warning or explanation. So I read what I wanted and kept anything I thought might be questionable out of view.
And I handled it pretty well, although it probably contributed to a love of books that has kept me writing stories. So arguably, I was permanently damaged if you see a burning desire to write as damage. ;)
But see, there’s that problem with censoring things. When you censor without great care and caution, you undermine a child’s trust in your judgement. Undermine that trust, and you handicap your ability to help the child to understand and cope with the things they’re bound to run into sooner or later anyway. I have kids of my own now: 5, 5, and 2. And while the older pair (twins) are not as precocious as I was with reading, both can now read. In a year or two, they’ll probably be physically capable of reading pretty much whatever they want. Our house is crammed full of books of all sorts – thousands of them, just like when I was young. Censoring all of that simply isn’t going to be possible. In the internet era (all three kids are internet savvy already, in a totally-parentally-supervised manner), if kids want to access something, they can and will find it.
Parental role, then, shifts toward helping children understand and cope with what they find. And that, in turn, requires that we find ways to ensure our children continue to trust us and see us as a source for help in that coping. I don’t want my kids to linger in silence and confusion about something they read, because they no longer trust me enough to tell me they read it.
There’s another piece to this puzzle, too. The original article said:
How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.
Mirroring the tumultuous times, dark topics began surging on to children’s bookshelves.
But look for a second at other forms of entertainment. Check TV: where instead of fairly black and white (morally) shows of the 80s and 90s, the last few years have churned out drama after drama depicting badly flawed characters and often horrific situations. One only needs to scan the prime time channel guide to see scads of police procedurals, more often than not peering into the darkest parts of our society and culture.
“Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it,” says Gurdon. But this is the language most teens now use among each other. YA novels use the language they do because that’s the language teens use. Trying to remove it would make the books seem unreal, distant. Teens would lose a sense of connection to the characters.
And the other, yes horrible, material? Once upon a time, a teen who became pregnant was removed from school. Now, often, they continue education. Once upon a time a molested child was never rescued, and just grew up “dealing with it”. Now, our culture collectively does battle against this crime, and when we catch an offender it is splashed across newspapers and TV screens as a warning to other predators and a battle cry for everyone else to continue the war. Once upon a time kids didn’t have metal detectors in schools. Once upon a time brutality and evil were not spoken of. They still happened, though. What’s changed is our awareness.
Kids today are growing up in a world where terrorists have slaughtered thousands of people. Where gunmen have attacked schools, have killed doctors. Where Amber Alerts serve to help catch kidnappers – noble, worthy, valuable!- but bringing into constant awareness of these children that they are under threat, under siege, by people who actively want to hurt them.
The age when an eight year old is truly innocent of the idea that some people want to hurt, rape, or kill him/her is gone, if it ever existed. We teach children to stay close to us in crowd so they cannot be taken away from us. We teach children not to get into strangers’ cars. We teach children how to go for help, and to talk to us or teachers if someone touches them in certain ways.
Kids are not stupid. They understand what all this adds up to. The world is a dangerous, sometimes incredibly hostile place. And the literature they choose to read reflects that, and reflects a desire to understand it, to absorb it, and to find ways of dealing with it and moving on.
So I disagree with the article and the points raised. I mourn that our world is not one where children can grow up idyllic and care-free. I would give some of that to my children if I could. I can’t. We don’t live there. And so the very discussions I have with them to keep them safe are a steady education in the darkness and danger that exists in their world. No matter how abstract I get. Like I said, kids are not stupid. They’re often far brighter and far more able to make connections than parents give them credit for. If teens are opting to read books which help them find ways to cope with the bad parts of living in our world through exploring the darkness, I’m thinking it would be unwise to block them.
Rather, I think I will try to be the parent who is there, a trusted friend and confidant, able to give help in dealing with the things they run into when they need it. If we do not give them our trust, though, they will never give us theirs.
Robin Sullivan just posted to her blog this morning that she, too, was banned from the Absolute Write site. Her ban message?
You have been banned for the following reason:
Just get the hell off my site. You’re relentlessly snotty, rude, and you’re a f***cking bald-faced liar. I’m done with you.
Date the ban will be lifted: Never
Stars added by Robin; the moderator used the full expletive.
Well, seems like I’m in good company. For those who don’t know, Robin is the head of Ridan Publishing, a great little company she’s built which is helping quite a good number of authors succeed with style. She’s also helped her husband self publish a stack of his books, to a level of success that got offers made from multiple large publishers.
But for some reason, her word isn’t as good as the word of a bunch of pundits who constantly thrashed whatever she had to say. A policy which enabled them to maintain a consistent, steady attack on most posts which put self publishing in a positive light – because it’s hard to argue with folks who are able to voice their own opinion as fact and have their “industry experience” validate those claims. Even if they have no indie publishing experience.
Robin came in and backed me up (thanks!), and we called them on it. Last night, the site owner responded with this:
First off – on double standard. There is one. There is a small clique of people who frequent this forum who deliberately attack pretty much any post which actively supports self publishing. It just is. And they’re just expressing their opinions, and usually not doing so in an offensive way – so it’s really hard to report the posts.
Errr….So where is the “double standard” you’re whining about, then, exactly? Because people have other opinions and they get to express them?
A double standard?
Why? Because I don’t shut everyone up that you disagree with, so you can have a climate-controlled echo chamber? Because I let people cite statistics, facts, and anecdotes that directly contradict what you so desperately want to convince other writers of — no matter if it’s right for them or not? Because we’re not a board that’s all about how self-publishing will make the average Jill and Joe Writer rich and famous beyond their wildest dreams or the reach of the NYT Bestseller list, so none of us ever have to face the sting of a rejection slip again unless we’re irredeemable and pedantic masochists desperately clinging to the rotting dinosaur carcass of Publishing-That-Was?
You are not the only one who sees the double standard being administered. There are a lot of lurkers that send me emails and PM’s to this effect and thank me for offering a “dissenting opinion”.
“Perpencity” and “desenting” and “the lurkers support me in email” and never met a pair of scare quotes that didn’t make you positively giddy — but you wonder why some of us are a wee bit skeptical about betting our writing careers on your advice? And why we’re not quite ready to tell other writers that they should bet their writing careers and a book they love on your advice? Really? That’s still a mystery to you?
Kevin, you and Robin have both been consistently rude, snotty, condescending, evasive, and utterly unpleasant in this room. Yet you feel completely free to insult other writers here, twist and misrepresent their words, and then say that *I* run a board with a double standard because I dare to let people disagree with you?
Get lost. Both of you. Get the hell off my website.
I’m sick to death of the misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, and outright bald-faced lies that some of you insist on spreading like it’s gospel truth. Go start your own damned cheerleader forum where no one gets to post rebuttals, ask questions, challenge assertions, or disagree with your awesomeness and mighty self-publishing guru-ness and wisdom(!!11!), and good luck with it.
Robin linked to the thread which got us banned. You tell me if you think we were being overboard.
In the meantime, I’ve still got some mixed emotions about this. I’m sad that such a well known site has become a propaganda mouthpiece. I’m worried for the writers who will go there and receive misinformation.
But I’m proud to be standing in Robin’s company on this one.
For the first time in over two decades of using the internet, I got banned from a site.
Not just any site, either. I was banned from the Absolute Write forums. And honestly, I’m pretty glad I was. Let me explain.
Absolute Write, for those who don’t know, is mostly a set of forums where writers, agents, publishers, and other sorts of folks in the writing industry chat. And of course, with the huge burst in self publishing, a bunch of posts about that started up. So they made a set of forums for self pub. I rolled across them a couple of months ago, and was pretty horrified by what I saw: a large number of folks claiming to be industry experts deliberately spreading misinformation about what self publishing was, how best to go about it, and whether one could actually do it successfully (outside a few “outliers”). So I stepped in and started pointing out the flaws in the logic.
But I ran into a snag, of course. There’s a dedicated crew there who actively use the forums to disabuse writers of the notion that self publishing is a legitimate career path – actively work to dissuade folks from trying to follow that path, and use the platform of the site and their own “expertise” to push their agenda. More >
What’s NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month. Every November, tens of thousands of writers get together (was over 150k last year) and try to write 50,000 words of a novel. You can start November 1st; you have to finish by the end of November 30th. Literally tens of thousands of people accomplish it each year. There’s a wonderful and supportive community, with writers ranging from full pros to complete novices and amateurs.
But what is Camp NaNoWriMo?
The Office of Letters and Light – the non-profit responsible for hosting and managing NaNo – have started something new this year, “Camp NaNoWriMo”. The Camp is an attempt to bring a smaller version of NaNo into the summer months.
Starting in mid-June, folks will be able to sign in to the site and look around, getting used to the interface. In July, a pared down version of the Camp will kick off – write a novel in July? Yikes! In August, they’ll be running it *again*, and writers should be able to use the full feature set of the Camp website.
Never tried to write two novels in a month back to back. Could be really interesting to give it a shot this summer.
Or, just pick one and do it. But get writing – after all, a novel in a month is only about 1600 words a day. With a little pushing and
a little willpower, that’s not beyond the pale for just about anyone to accomplish.
I’ll be updating more as we get closer. November NaNoWriMo is always an outstanding time. I think these Camps sound like they could be a lot of fun – and very useful for productivity as well! Anyone else thinking about giving this a try, this year?
First, appearances. OK, we’re working from photos and videos right now, unless you happened to be at BEA this week where they announced the device. But the new Nook has a sort of clean, streamlined look to it that other readers have largely lacked. It’s got nice “lines”, I guess you could say. And honestly, if I am going to be holding a device in my hand for a couple of hours a day, 5-7 days a week, for a year or more, I really don’t feel bad about wanting it to look pretty and feel good in the hand. Knowing about the latter will have to wait til we actually see them in two weeks – but it certainly looks nice.
It’s a touchscreen ereader. Gone are the buttons which users of other devices have complained gradually lose their paint and sometimes stop working. Instead, you can pull up a touchscreen keyboard. That also means when you’re reading, pretty much the whole device is the page, sort of like…well, like a book. My feeling is that this style will make for a better, easier reading experience. I don’t think having to open the touchscreen keyboard will bother many folks – most of the time you’re reading on an ereader anyway, not writing; and touchscreen keyboard seem very popular in cell phones. Not to mention the iPad.
The new Nook is only 80% the weight of the Kindle, but is reported to have much longer battery life. Not sure how they extended the battery without raising the weight, but if so, I’m not going to complain! B&N is advertising that you can go two months between recharges. Obviously, that depends upon how much you read (I’d be more interested in hearing the actual battery life in page turns or hours read). But they’re claiming they now have the longest lasting battery in an ereader. If so, it’s another big plus.
I want to talk a moment about Nook Friends, too. Nook Friends is B&N’s upcoming book-related social network. Now, there’s other social networks out there for books. But by tying the network into the ereader, B&N is opening up a lot of new worlds. Joe Konrath recently wrote an exciting blog about how ebooks could become social communities in their own right. It looks to me like what B&N is trying to do – link books directly into a reading focused social experience – could be a powerful step forward. And a lot of fun, to boot. I think this is a great move, and look forward to seeing what they do with it, and what opportunities they offer publishers to make their books more actively involved in Nook Friends.
Having the ability to put any picture I want in as the “off” image is something else about Nooks in general that I am fond of, and the New Nook retains this. The storage system for books on the new Nook is supposed to be a bookshelf style set up, like the iBook layout I assume. I think that’s dramatically better than the Kindle layout, where books are stored by title, in folders, with a fairly crude level of organization involved.
Don’t get me wrong – I still like my Kindle. I like having free 3G wireless internet, for one thing. Being able to read blogs on the fly or use my Kindle 3G to mapquest or read email from anywhere is pretty nice. But this new Nook is a serious step forward in a lot of ways. And if they do a good job rolling out the social network Nook Friends, that could be a huge impetus for folks to jump on board this ereader.
Overall, I’d say this looks like a great effort on B&N’s part, and I look forward to seeing the devices themselves soon!
Something a little different this time.
Had a fun chat at work the other day. Oddly enough, it was about surviving the zombie apocalypse. No, I don’t really think there is one coming. No, zombie movies and books are not a staple of my entertainment (although I liked 30 Days Later and Ms. Hocking’s Hollowland). But it was an interesting chat, discussing weaponry and such. I was going for guns with high velocity rounds and good sights, ideally military grade stuff I’d had loads of experience with. The conversation ended something like this:
Me: “You know, I used to teach marksmanship. And could put a three round shot group in a space the size of a quarter at a third of a mile.”
Him: “OK, you can join our zombie survival group.”
No, he doesn’t really think there are zombies coming, either.
But the whole chat got me thinking about the zillions of useless or semi-practical bits of Geek Cred I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s not the sort of thing I think about often, because it doesn’t exactly fit on a regular resume. But I had some fun composing a fictional Geek Resume while driving, chuckling as I did. Something like this:
- Second highest ranked Magic The Gathering player in the world; multiple M:tG Pro Tour competitor.
- Third Dan Black Belt. Owned own dojang for six years. Multiple national medalist. Combatives instructor for US Army Infantry.
- Expert marksman. Sniper cross trained. Qualified expert on pretty much every small arms in use by the Army.
- Guild leader of MMORPG guild for over a decade, spanning almost a dozen games and over a thousand players total.
- Multiply-published writer. Won award for short fiction.
- Semi-pro artist for multiple computer games. Actually made and (briefly, for fun) launched own MMORPG.
- Squire to a Knight in a medieval re-enactment organization. Also leader of local group. Also co-sponsor of Battle of Hastings recreation at the Pennsic War (where I played Harold last year – and won).
- Yes, that means I have a full kit of 1066 armor. I also have an awesome plate armor kit set in the late 14th century.
- Started playing D&D from age 7 on. Wrote own RPG and gamemastered it at GenCon 1993. Teaching kids, ages 5, 5, and 2, how to play D&D right now (which they love, btw).
- Used to build PCs for money, back in the 90s. Now do it for fun.
- Programming HTML since before it was cool.
- Can accurately quote at least 50% of the lines from “Princess Bride”.
- College activities: fencing, SCA, RPG gaming, online gaming (MUDs), Tae Kwon Do, running my own small business.
Well, that’s what came to mind. (No, I really don’t take this any more seriously than the zombies, but it was fun!)
Of course, I lose a lot of cred because I have never to this day sent a text message from a cell phone (listens for gasps of horror).
So, what does your “Geek Resume” look like? ;)
Who can resist quoting Yoda?
OK, back to a more serious note. When Dean Wesley Smith commented a couple of months ago that he saw a war in publishing on the way, and sides already forming up, I really wasn’t sure. I mean, I saw folks who didn’t want to believe things were changing as fast as they were. And I saw a lot of folks still stuck in the “Writer’s Digest” myths. But I sorta thought that people would gradually catch on, and writers would settle into a new world of putting their own stuff up as ebooks and print on demand books, and then selling some books to big publishers as a loss leader to get their marketing dollars behind a writer’s name. My gut said that writers, being generally smart people, would do the smart thing.
Oh, was I ever wrong.
I’m convinced, now. Dean was right, is right.
A large chunk of writers are simply not happy with the changes taking place. They don’t want to have to be responsible for their businesses. They want to basically be employees – write a book, get paid. Unfortunately, it’s never really worked like that (despite myths to the contrary), and is less like that today than it’s been in decades. But there’s a big chunk of writers who don’t want those changes. They want their agents taking care of the business stuff. They want the publisher marketing the book. They want to sit back, write, and not have to worry about anything else.
That mindset is doomed.
Dean just wrote a new article about how the latest agent scam is taking off and blossoming. More and more agencies are becoming publishers. They offer to take your book, get it ready to publish, publish the ebook, and split “net receipts” with you after expenses for the book are paid. Dean goes into why this is a horrible deal in a lot of detail here. Short form? Your $4.99 ebook would make you $3.50 a copy if you sell it yourself. With these agents, your $4.99 ebook earns you $1.75 a copy MINUS whatever their operating expenses are – *after* you’ve paid off whatever their production costs were on the book with those $1.75 chunks. So if they decide the “net receipt” is $2 on that $4.99 ebook ($3.50 minus $1.50 for their operating expenses, accounting dept, etc.), and they decide they spent $10,000 getting your book edited, formatted, and uploaded, you will need to sell 10,000 ebooks before you get a red cent from them. And after that you’d get $1 a book.
Not saying those are the numbers any specific agent gone publisher is using. But they could. “Net receipts” is an extremely vague term unless it is absolutely defined in the contract. Basically, these agent deals are very nearly the same thing as the scam subsidy presses out there – the ones who charge writers up front AND charge a percentage of income per book. The difference is, instead of charging up front and laying the fees out on the table, these agents are potentially able to obscure their fees so that a writer might have a very hard time figuring out what they’re actually supposed to be making. Extremely dangerous.
Kris Rusch just wrote an article, too – talking about some of the other grabs going on. Agents not longer work for writers, she asserts. And that seems borne out by the flat-out dangerous and outrageous clauses showing up – not in publishing contracts, but in *agency* contracts! Clauses which give the agency a chunk of any future sale of the work, even if the agency is fired. Clauses that give an agency a chunk of any future sales in that world, or with those characters, and definitely any sequels. Even if the writer has since fired that agency.
It was bad enough that publishers were pulling those sorts of dangerous contract clauses. But now, agencies are as well.
I agree completely with her take on the subject.
- There is no longer any reason for a writer to have an agent. If you want someone to go over a contract, get an IP lawyer, it’s cheaper and they’re actually regulated by the government and actually educated about contract law.
- If a writer does not stand up for him or herself, nobody else is going to do it. It’s up to us.
- Writers now have options. We can say NO to a contract and just publish the book ourselves. If the contract is bad, and the other side won’t budge, say no.
But I’m not really sure that’s sinking in. I spent part of last week over on a writer’s forum that’s well known and pretty well regarded. It’s a very popular hang out and location to get advice. And they had forums for both self publishing and e-publishing, so I popped in. I quickly found myself embattled by a bunch of folks who were passionate in their resistance to the idea of self publishing, to a degree that was almost scary. Even the designated mods of the forums were pretty solid in their negative feedback about self publishing. It didn’t take me too long to catch on. The self publishing forum was in place to collect posts about the subject, so a bunch of folks could trash the idea regularly enough that writers stopping by see that self publishing is clearly still a bad idea, and not a valid route for writers to follow. Maybe OK to dabble in, but not as a career route.
The forum isn’t there for discussion so much as it’s there for maintaining a steady flow of disinformation.
But that, and places like it, are some of the fields where the battle is being fought right now. Writers come in hearing about self publishing taking off, and looking for ways to make it work for them. If they happen across Dean’s blog, or Kris’s blog, or Joe Konrath’s blog, they’ll hear about how to make it work. If they go to some other places…they hear about how it’s all hogwash and overblown and doomed to failure.
The level of Stockholm Syndrome in some of those places is pretty frightening.
But then, so is the alternative to a lot of folks. If self publishing really is now the *best* option for most writers, what does that mean? It means writers must take charge of finding an editor. It means writers must learn to format ebooks. It means writers must trust their work enough to put it up for public sales without the “validation” of sale to an NYC publisher. It means writers need to know good art from bad well enough to hire a good artist. It means writers need to learn some basic accounting. It means writers need to market their books (arguably, that was already true since publishers were no longer doing much marketing on most books, but the myth says otherwise).
It means writers need to step up and take charge of the business they are running.
Which scares the beejeezus out of a lot of writers.
But here’s the thing: one way or another, it’s pretty much over for those writers. The ones too scared, too badly grounded in old myths, too ill-informed about industry changes, and – dare I say it – too lazy to take charge of their business are done for. If the bad contracts don’t kill their careers, simple contraction of the ‘traditional’ publishing industry will do it instead. Only writers willing to learn business are going to survive in the years ahead, via either trade publishers or self publishing. The option to have someone else ‘take care of it’ for you is simply no longer valid anymore.
Stand up. Step up. Take charge. Make it happen for yourself. No one else is going to do it for you.