Monday, August 20, 2012

SM Johnson ~Bloody Monday~ Traditional vs Independent

All right, folks, I can't help myself. I commented on the subject of [mostly independently published] authors behaving badly, and now there are some feathers ruffled because a couple of successful traditionally published authors have spoken out against self-publishing.

Oh, the horror.

So just to get you up to speed quick, click HERE and go to Terri Giuliano Long's blog real quick before reading on, to see Sue Grafton's unthinking comment, and her apology, as well as a quote from Jodi Picoult, apparently sans apology. Each of these best-selling authors recommend that writers NOT self-publish. Terri's post is fairly short. I'll wait for you to check it out and then come back to me, k? Thx.

Waiting... waiting...

Image from

Oh, you're back? Yay!

Okay. Well, I probably am not going to endear myself with my peers (self-published/independently published/Indie authors) but this is what I have to say:

I get it.

I get why successful traditionally published authors tell new writers not to self-publish.

Because historically, (and as of just 5 years ago) self-publishing was the kiss of death for an author.

Once an author had given up on finding and agent or a publisher, and self-published with a vanity press and gone on to reap miserable sales, no traditional publishing house would touch them EVER.

There was the here and there odd-man-out self-published book that that hit the best-seller list, but it was highly unusual (click to see Wikipedia's self-published best-sellers list).

So authors who "made it" via traditional publishing houses don't necessarily understand the realm of self-publishing in 2012, where becoming an "Indie" author is essentially risk-free.

For the most part, we're not laying out thousands of dollars to receive a couple boxes of paperback books that we're begging our small, local booksellers to find shelf-space for.

That's the old way, the vanity press.

Nope. That's not how it works these days.

We're writers who have critique partners and circles, we've been small-press published, maybe one of our books even won a contest (ahem, raises hand), and we've spent a lot of years learning the craft of writing and finding our voice.

We're not paying someone to publish our work. We're reading the Smashwords Style Guide and the Amazon how-to-publish-on-Amazon guidelines, and we're learning how to create e-books. We're learning how to make book covers from really helpful and nice web sites like How to Make a Book Cover in GIMP.

So basically, we're putting in the hours and creating ebooks. And we're marketing our books. And some of us make a little bit of money, and some of us do pretty well. Some of us even make a living as writers (not me - LOL, but I'm as picky a writer as I am a reader, and I can't replace quality writing with quantity writing. I just can't).

Okay, that's some of us.

It's not every Indie author, though.

There are plenty of independently published books out there that are bad. Even terrible. Filled with grammatical errors, typos, cardboard characters, and transparent plots. Some of them have no plot in sight.

There are writers that self-publish a book every month and make damn good money, and whether I can stand to read those books, is really beside the point.

There are also some traditionally published authors who have self-published their back-lists (previously published but now out-of-print books) with a huge measure of success.

We are of all varieties, experiences, abilities, and walks of life. We sell our books on Amazon or Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or iTunes.

Some of us are great writers. Some of us are not great, yet.

We're all learning as we go.

And we all offer something different for readers to taste.

The coolest thing of all is that there's plenty of room for all of us in this big digital world. How beautiful is that?

Have a great week, darlings!

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