If there’s one thing I can safely say about the business of publishing books, it’s that it is hard. Writing a good book in the first place is a monumental effort. Finding an agent usually requires dozens, if not hundreds of rejections. Landing a publishing contract is achieved by only a small percentage of the writing public. Self-publishing requires a whole skill set that requires you to wear multiple hats and “do it all”. Once your book is out there you might think, “I’ve made it.” But that just means you’ve graduated to a whole new world of challenges. You need to find an audience, suffer scathing reviews, and balance promotion time against writing time.
With all the challenges that writer’s face, shouldn’t we celebrate and support our fellow writers and the choices they make in their path to publishing?I’m speaking particularly in the “traditional” verses “self-publishing” rhetoric that seems to be dividing the writing community. Depending on which of my posts you read, I’ve been accused of being singularly focused on self-publishing or too naïve about the horrors of the traditional publishing world to know better just how terrible a choice it is. People on both sides proclaim theirs is the only “right” path and the other side is misguided and misinformed.
I have a foot in all three avenues. I’ve successfully self-published my husband’s Riyria Revelations (The Crown Conspiracy, Avempartha, Nyphron Rising, Emerald Storm, and Wintertide) selling more than 60,000 books and earning enough that we can both quit our day jobs and live off his writing income. I run a small press, publishing works by Nathan Lowell, Leslie Ann Moore, Marshall Thomas, and Todd Fonseca, just to name a few. I’m working a 3-book six-figure deal with the fantasy imprint of a big-six publisher (Orbit Books of the Hachette Book Group). This gives me an interesting perspective as I see advantages and disadvantages in each option. I FIRMLY believe there is no “right path” just a path that is right for a particular individual and each person should be free to choose their road without the ridicule of others who “know better.”
There’s no doubt that the times they are a changing, and it’s both exciting and frightening. I love seeing the passion that the ebook revolution has sparked. I don’t think there has ever been a better time for someone who wishes to make a living by writing than now. Regardless of the paths any of us choose, we should all be grateful that there are now legitimate options for writers. The continued success of self-published authors will ultimately benefit everyone, even those publishing traditionally, as contracts will need to shift to be more author friendly in order to attract or retain talent.
People are excited and this is a good thing. I love that people share their opinions and experiences in an attempt to make sure people are well informed. But let’s not place ourselves as “our brother’s keepers” or “catcher’s in the rye” as the only defense against what we think is a terrible mistake they are making if they chose a path you would not decide for yourself. Celebrate their decisions and wish them success. After all, this business faces enough challenges from the outside without tearing at one another from within.