Friday, March 15, 2013

Near-sighted or short-sighted?

Myopia runs in my family.

I got it from my father. I became corrective-lens-dependent in second grade. 

My short-sightedness might be inherited, too.  

When I was in high school, a bit before the birth of the personal computer, my father advised me not to take typing. “If you learn to type, that’s what people will always expect you to do.” He saw typing as a shortcut to the deep end of the secretarial pool.  

A few short years later, I had to waste college tuition dollars on a typing class ASAP to pursue a degree in journalism. 

Fast forward to 2013. Technology is driving change in the publishing industry. In the past few years I’ve said, more than once, that I would not self-publish. 

But my attitude toward self-publishing is changing as the publishing industry changes. Even RWA is changing. 

Last summer, the RWA board voted to accept self-published authors into PAN membership. Since the fall of 2011, RWA has had an active self-publishing forum within myRWA. 

Last month, I participated in an online RWA chapter workshop about the nuts and bolts of self-publishing. The instructor, Sarra Cannon, offers tips and shares her reasons for choosing to become her own publisher on her web site. 

This week, our chapter’s PAN liaison, urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson, provided a round-up of publishing industry news in our chapter newsletter. Her article included a couple of links related to self publishing.

Debut novelists still get picked up,” says author Mary Doria Russell, “but midlist authors are under ever increasing pressure to produce blockbusters — or ride away into the sunset. 

And according to Kristine Kathryn Rusch, “The indie and/or hybrid writer gets 50-70% of each indie book sale. The traditional writer gets 25% of net, which works out—at least according to the royalty statements I’ve seen—to 10% of the sale price of each book.” 
Just because I’ve never been a market leader doesn’t mean I’ll never participate. I’m keeping my nearsighted eyes on indie publishing. One day, I might hop the freight. What about you? Are you moving closer to indie publishing? 


Lisa Dunick said...

Not yet. I still want that book on a shelf in B&N and Target (when you've *really* made it). I still want the advance and that validation. It's amazing how gainful employment has made me much, much more patient about this.

Cari Hislop said...

Thanks for your lovely post! I didn't know the RWA was now accepting self-published authors. I think that's lovely.

I can totally understand the preference for traditional publishing (who wouldn't rather take that road if they could?), but self-publishing is a gift for those romances that don't slot into any specific sub genres. I write regency romances, but they're neither "sweet" nor steamy. The sweet publishers would find my stories offensive. The Steamy publishers would insist on sex scenes. My heroes are never typical. Some of them deserve prison more than love (their paths to love always involves suffering for their past deeds). I'm more interested in character development than plot. I could hack my stories to fit someone eles' idea of a romance, but my characters (and I) would suffer. It's a gift to have the option of sending them out into the world instead of leaving them to gather dust in a drawer. It's a gift to have a quarterly paycheck. It's a gift to have readers who love my stories.

Personally, I won't be surprised if within ten to fifteen years the traditional publishing industry insists on most new authors having a self-created readership.

Carla Swafford said...

Good point, Cari. I believe you're right about publishers looking for new authors with self-publishing followers. They already like to see authors with websites, followings on Facebook, newsletters, etc.

It would also ensure that the new authors have gotten 'rid' of those first books that are normally not as well-thought out. No more slush pile newbies with all the tropes and mistakes editors hate to see. At the same time, give the editors a way to see how those diamonds in the rough have begun to shine.

Something more to think about.

Chris Bailey said...

Lisa--Me, too! And on library shelves! Especially since I've turned my attention to middle grade. I know books for readers age 9-12 can be purchased for e-readers, but I have a hard time envisioning you buying tablets for your kids and telling them to buy whatever they want on your account.

On the other hand, I noticed the other day that Target carries a total of about 25 authors (and maybe only 8 for middle grade.) I'd love to make that cut, and I don't want to publish a book that's not ready.

What I do want is to stay abreast of the options. After all, in 1998 I told a client that budgeting to develop a web site was a waste of his PR resources. Which it may have been wise in 1998. But not so much in 2000. I had to change.

I may have to change again. ;-)

Chris Bailey said...

Cari, I can understand publishers opting not to take a risk. They're in a big business with big overhead, and they have to cover costs. Meeting readers' expectations is safe.

I believe readers are loads more interested in reading off-the-beaten-path stories than publishers give them credit for. Readers love to take risks! And for a couple of dollars, why not?

If you self-publish, and your book only sells a thousand or five thousand copies, it's okay because it's your choice.

Chris Bailey said...

You and Cari have a good point. While I've seen agents and editors (in the past year) saying they don't want self-pubbed authors, it could easily become a requirement. Writing fiction for me is like starting a new career. When you enter a field, you have to find a way to prove that you can do the job and manage the ongoing responsibility. I could see self-pubbing and self-promoting as the entry-level job on the best-selling fiction writer's career path.

Cari Hislop said...

Carla: You make an excellent point about the death of newbie novels. My first two books are lounging in a computer file waiting to be rewritten. It took me five books before I'd written something readable. I'm glad no one in the publishing world was tortured with my early efforts! The world slush is an understatement. While writing my first book I had three stories in my head and I kept forgetting which one I was writing. Not good!

Louisa Cornell said...

While I definitely want the validation of a publisher buying my book and I want to see it in print and be able to hold it in my hand, this business is changing. The best chance of having a lasting career in it may well be the hybrid version - part self-pubbed, part e-pubbed and part traditionally pubbed. A savvy writer looks at all of the possibilities. No matter which venue, the truly important thing is to write a great book and to continue to hone your craft.