Sunday, March 28, 2010

You call it vanity, I call it artistic liberty

I wonder if writers who scream the loudest against self-publishing are actually afraid of their own power?

Over the long haul, the hard worker gets a bigger audience. Talent is plentiful, cheap, and nearly worthless. Ideas are worthless. Sure, there will be the lucky strikes here and there, but in this new entrepreneurial era, those who work will win.

There's a reason traditional publishers take 85 percent of the money. There's a lot of work involved in selling a book. With the self-published writer closer to the revenue stream, the writer should be working way harder than they do when earning 8 percent or whatever. Trad publishers scare all the writers into hustling because there's the threat of being dropped if your sales tank. And, it's obvious but truer than ever, writers who don't check their email, don't get on the forums, don't build a mailing list, and are disconnected are layers and layers away from their audience. It's almost a direct feed these days--you can't just sit in your little cottage by the sea and post out masterpieces. J.D. Salinger wouldn't have a chance today.

Call it "vanity," "self-publishing," "independent author," "cooperative imprint," whatever. I've come to view as more of a libertarian action, taking responsibility and directly benefiting from my own labors or enduring the disappointments of my own failures. It's still a hard road, and I want to earn a few hundred more rejection slips before I go to the Great Word Processor in the Sky. But right now I love that direct connection with the audience.

Besides, I'm a writer. Being vain is one of the job requirements.



D. Cootey said...

Hear, hear! Well stated.

I had the opportunity to listen to two authors talk shop a year ago. One of them was an award winner and he had just finished participating as a judge for the Newbury process. He resented that he couldn’t just write in his “little cottage by the sea and post out masterpieces” as you put it. He loathed the self-promotion necessary to make it in the industry today. He lamented that the good old days had passed.

Meanwhile, the iPad with iBooks is a’calling and he’ll be left further and further in the past.

author Scott Nicholson said...

thanks, D, I am doing things I never thought I would do--jumping into the iPad with both feet. I've also just set up arrangements for Mobipocket and getting out there overseas, where there are few Kindles. Intriguing new times!

author Christa Polkinhorn said...

Scott, let them scream. When writers and readers support each other rather than being petty and judgmental, amazing things happen. The self-publishing venture of the Beat poets and writers in San Francisco in the fifties is just one example: Good luck, Christa

Erik Williams said...

It's also business, let's not forget. And you have to make the best decisions for yours. Thanks for keeping us up to date, Scott.