5 Comments

  1. You make some good points but some clarification might be worth noting —

    First, “vanity” press often earned its sinful name — many vanity presses took advantage of authors.

    Second, authors like Mark Twain and Poe were *also* published by others and paid accordingly. Further, neither’s efforts were particularly financially fruitful, as I understand it.

    Further, getting an agent and a book deal is no small thing, you’re right: it’s a hard row to hoe. But self-publishing is just as hard in different ways.

    This post feels like a step backward: yes, yes, we already know self-publishing is an option, let’s stop shaking the pom-poms. I’d like to see self-publishing move into an era where we get past the cheerleaders and start looking at the tough and sometimes troubled reality of publishing traditionally *and* via one’s own efforts.

    Knowing what Poe did is fairly meaningless here (he also married his 13-year-old cousin!) given that we’re talking about an entirely different era in terms of being a writer and getting published. If you’re going to suggest that authors are better off self-publishing, then my hope would be you’d help them do so. You’ve got information to share as a self-pubber. Pluses, minuses — how are your sales? What difficulties are you running into? What tricks have worked, what ones haven’t? What marketing efforts can an author do? Self-publishers need more than just Yippie-Kay-Ey Go-And-Get-Em — they need more than just the agenda.

    IMHO, YMMV, etc.

    — c.

  2. Hey, Chuck. Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts.

    You’re right Twain moved on to publish in myriad different ways (including selling his books door to door, essentially–or was that first? I can never remember). Poe . . . well, Poe’s history was troubled, wasn’t it? In myriad ways. None of Poe’s efforts were financially fruitful, regardless of who published them and how.

    You’re right that going indie is hard in myriad different ways. I think my point is that agents and book deals are an actively closed system. I stopped counting the number of publishers closed to unagented submissions and the number of agents closed to submissions (and who basically ignore the ones they receive, taking a no-response=pass policy). Mainly because it’s so common and I honestly found better things to care about. And also because that’s the “troubled reality of publishing traditionally.”

    I don’t think anything is meaningless. Poe was a different era, sure. So’s today compared to a year ago, and a year again.

    I’m not suggesting publishing independently is better. Better than what? My goal here, in this post, was to consider the frustration behind the abrasive rhetoric recently discussed by so many, including yourself. Shorter: Sure, Barry Eisler’s word choice was poorly chosen, but that abrasive rhetoric everyone took umbrage with might be a result of a deeper frustration many writers feel toward a system that has increasingly not just closed its doors but also become condescending. I’m also not sure about pom-poms and pep talks, neither of which were my intention.

    As for all your questions: I’m getting to those things. But then again, do what thou wilt, right? What’s worked and not worked for me is probably not what’s worked and won’t work for others.

    The main difficulty I, personally, run into as an indie author is dismissal as such. EG: popular book bloggers as closed to “self-published” books as corporations are to unagented manuscripts.

  3. Thanks for the mention, Will 🙂

    I agree…and disagree. I started looking at getting published when I was 8 years old. The library’s copy of Writer’s Digest was my best friend. I remember seeing the phrase “No unagented submissions” for the first time when I was 10 and having to research the crap out of what an “agent” was (back before the Internet, it took some time). I saw the publishing landscape change around me. And I stopped trying to get published. The tone changed, from “we want to see your work!” to “don’t bother us with the garbage you call writing!”

    So yes, I agree that for some time now, corporate publishing (is that the correct word now?) has had tone issues. That’s no excuse for authors, for whom words are their livelihood, to try to beat publishers to the bottom on tone. I don’t care how frustrated everyone is. I hit my thumb with a hammer in front of my son and somehow manage not to shout obscenities. I see my property taxes increasing while the value of my home is halved, but I don’t call them slavers.

    As authors, we have both the ability and the responsibility to communicate well. The tone of the big bad publishing houses is driving people away. It is. It’s part of the reason I’m considering alternate publishing options. So why would independent authors want to emulate them? We see the result of corporate publishing’s dismissive and condescending attitude all around us. Let’s not give in to dismissing and insulting them right back. We’re professional communicators, and we’re better than that.

  4. No problem, Angela. I realize I didn’t mention I thought highly of your post. Woops! Because I did. Good stuff.

    I don’t think we actually do disagree. I don’t think authors should use abrasive rhetoric, and I’m certainly not advocating for authors to adopt the condescending tone corporate publishers and literary agents have. Like I said above, I was just attempting to explore and explain the reason for the tone issues you mentioned, not attempting to argue either for its use or that it’s correct.

    Far from it. It’s not.

    In fact, for myself, personally, I’ve been actively working on improving the tone I’ve taken. Being more positive and proactive. It’s made a big difference in how I’ve felt in general.

    And that’s kind of what I am advocating: people need to choose their options for themselves, and once they have done so, not listen to people telling them they are wrong. There are plenty of authors who signed publication contracts with corporations who are totally happy with them. There are plenty of authors who went to Kindle and CreateSpace who are totally happy with those options (that I am one of the latter doesn’t mean I think people who choose the former are doing so wrongly).

    All the best as you consider your publishing options. If you ever have any questions you think I could help with, you know where to find me.

  5. Great post, Will! In fact, I’ve spent much of my morning reading your last few posts (including posts that, chronologically speaking, came after this one) and feeling quite invigorated about my choice to become an indie author. Keep it up, brother!

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