As has been quite apparent on here lately, I’ve been struggling with the rejections of being a writer. The idea that I could spend the rest of my life attempting to get people to care about my work only to have them reject me just at the basic concepts of my writing has been discouraging, to say the least.
The decision to self-publish came out of a need to remove myself from the rejection. Obviously there’s still rejection to be had as an artist of any medium, but the instant rejection without care for the actual work in question is not as immediate of an issue.
However, as also stated, self-publishing has caused me some concern as well. Mostly due to the conflicting messages out there regarding the new methods available for writers to get their work out into the world. If you read anything put out by people within the publishing industry, the discussion is barely a discussion. They brush away the successes had through self-pub platforms as exceptions to the rules and nothing to even pay attention to. This makes sense, seeing as self-pubbed authors, if successful, take money away from the traditional publishing industry folks.
But, if you read through the success stories, which are many, you see a different picture. You see, the message coming from traditional pubbers has to do with the concept of becoming a highly successful author. I’d be willing to state that there are many more traditionally published highly successful authors than there are self-pubbed ones. It’s just a simple matter of marketing money.
And the sheer number of complete failures within the self-pubbed world are outrageous as well. . . well, I should say, the numbers that are given as failures, since these numbers include people who use self-pubbing platforms to create personal cookbooks, memoir books, or other items that are not intended to public consumption. Of course, there are still a great number more of failures with self-pubbed authors, as many do not have professional editing on their side, or professional cover design, or, obviously, professional marketing. And there are yet more who are just not ready to be published, people who put words to paper and immediate put those words out for the world, without even a second glance.
Of course there’s more failures, there’s no support system available for these folks, as least not one they can afford, unless wanting to invest heavily into their own words, which can get prohibitively expensive quickly.
But looking at the successes tells a completely different part of the story.
I’ve been magically happening across many of these success stories lately and their tales of their rise to ‘success’ are always the same. They wrote a book, tried getting an agent, couldn’t get an agent to read the book no matter what they did, finally got fed up and self-pubbed, received a modicum of interest, agents started calling.
There are a few who received more than a modicum of interest, but the story still holds true, and the important part of the story is there, in every single one of them. These folks couldn’t get agents to care about their work enough to even want to read it. Yet, after receiving some positive response through their self-publishing efforts, the tune changed quickly.
Why is that? Why the sudden interest based on very little response from the outside world? If you talk to the publishing industry at large about self-publishing, they will generally tell you to ignore it, unless, of course, they run their own self-publishing department. Yet, if someone receives some recognition for their work, they jump on it (very exaggerated simplification).
What this says to me is that the traditional publishing platforms has become so closed off from new talent that they are incapable of caring until someone else does. So far, in many of the cases I’ve found in my reading, trad-pubs end up winning anyways, as the author takes an agent and gets a publisher and all the money gets funneled through the ‘appropriate’ hands once again.
But what happens when, like with the music industry a number of years ago, these writers begin to realize they don’t need trad-pubs. What about when the book version of napster comes along (for all I know, it could already be out there) and truly independent authors suddenly become mainstream? Will we begin to see new Stephen King novels being put up on his website for a pay-what-you-will charge, circumventing his publisher and agent? Probably not, but other authors very well could move that way? Why not? The amount of work necessary to format a novel into an ebook format is pretty darn minimal, most authors do most of that work already when prepping it for submission. If you’re already a brand name, the amount of marketing necessary would be relatively minor. Fork over some cash for a book cover and some editing services and you’re golden, right?
Heck, just look at Amanda Palmer’s recent kickstarter project to fund her new album. She received more than the money she was initially asking for in record time, all without the need for label involvement.
The business side of the artistic industries is changing. . . but the businesses themselves aren’t. We’re beginning to see the power back in the artists’ hands. If enough artists jump ship, we could being to new a new art re-birth, where everyone’s finally working once again to be unique to separate themselves from each other. No longer will it be necessary to see the new release shelves covered in only one genre because that genre is what’s considered “in” right now. No, you’ll begin to see beautiful crazy outcroppings of less than stable artist brains.
And that excites me.
Of course. . . that’s also a ton of work, so, you know, agents/traditional publishers, feel free to call with your offers.