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Why Draw Lines? The Us vs. Them BS!

Okay, so I’m gonna probably stir the hornet’s nest a bit here, but there’s something I need to get off my chest.

Here it is: I’m really sick and tired of this “Us vs. Them” attitude in the indie publishing community. I’m also sick of it in the traditional publishing community. It’s a load of crap. Big, stinking, make you choke and gasp, pile of crap!

Why do people insist on drawing lines in the sand?

Now, I know my situation is different than most writers (or not). I have been published by a small press then negotiated my rights back (the publisher was more than gracious to allow this) and have since independently published my novel, DEAD MECH, on my own as an ebook (print to come soon). I have also published my collection of short stories, Bethany And The Zombie Jesus, plus several of the short stories on their own as ebooks. I’ll be publishing a collection of my Friday Night Drabble Party releases, my Scenes From The Apocalypse drabbles and a Halloween collection of drabbles soon. This puts me in the “indie publisher” category and I embrace that.

But, there’s more! I have also written a YA zombie novel (about conjoined twins: one dead, one alive) and have found a wonderful agent that is currently in the process of shopping this to the big publishers out there. This puts me in the category of “traditional publishing”. And I’m fine with that.

I have seen tons of forums filled with nothing but hatred for traditional publishing. The folks posting talk about how big publishing will screw you over and they are dinosaurs that are past their time. They talk about how indie publishers need to stand together and if you dare say anything counter you will be vilified on the spot. I think this is childish and highly unprofessional. It’s totally cool to want solidarity among indie publishers, I’m all for it, but to go after those that still want a traditional publishing contract is silly.

Why is it silly? Because traditional publishers don’t screw you over, you screw yourself. They do not have a gun to your head when you sign that contract. Your family is not being threatened with bodily harm if you don’t take their royalty rates. In fact, traditional publishing could give two craps about you. They have tons of authors they are working with that need their attention (yes, we can debate the definition of “attention”) and dealing with your whining really isn’t a priority.

This persecution myth needs to stop. Really, folks, just knock it off. If you don’t like the contract (and this applies to contracts for ANYTHING) then don’t sign it! Simple as that. Don’t. Sign. The. Contract. It’s okay to do. Many writers walk away from contracts. It’s your right, exercise it!

Oh, but wait, you’re telling me you do want to be published by a big New York publishing firm? But you want them to bend to your will and offer you a contract on your terms? Why should they do that? They have a business to run, and as outmoded and bloated as it may be, it’s their business and not yours! Get over yourself!

On the flip side, all the traditional publishing proponents need to stop vilifying indie publishing as the scourge that will destroy the industry! Stop saying that indie published novels are inferior in quality. Stop saying they don’t go through all the checks and balances that make for a great novel. Stop saying that ALL indie published authors are just throwing out their old rejected crap. Sure, there is a LOT of indie published crap out there. But, there is a TON of traditionally published crap too! That’s just a fact. And I have yet to see a disproportionate amount of crap coming from the indie published authors. It’s pretty much the same ratio as with traditional publishing.

And stop saying that selling novels at $.99 is bringing the industry down! McDonalds sells cheeseburgers for less than $.99 but that hasn’t stopped anyone from going to a restaurant and paying $7.95 for a burger! It also hasn’t stopped McDonalds from being a multi-billion dollar a year company. There is decades upon decades of retail statistics that show this argument is not based in anything even resembling fact. Knock. It. Off.

Okay, so why am I even posting this? Why go to the trouble of pointing any of this out and risk the backlash from either side?

That’s a simple one: because the state of publishing, whether indie or traditional, is in complete chaos and being ruled by fear on both sides! No one knows how everything is going to work out. No. One. What we need to do is pull together and get to a compromise where everyone can benefit. Will that be easy to do? No. But it needs to be done.

Does traditional publishing need to pay higher royalties? Yes. Do they need to get their head in the game when it comes to ebooks as a 100% viable, and soon to be dominant, publishing format? Absolutely.

Do indie publishers need to come down off their cross and realize that they hold their fate in their own hands? Yes. Do they need to stop bitching about being victims in a system that they aren’t even participating in? Absolutely.

But this doesn’t even touch what’s really important and getting missed in this stupid argument!

What’s being missed is this: readers don’t give two craps about any of this. They just want to be entertained. They don’t know indie publishing from shinola! They just know when they’ve read a great book and when they’ve read something that was scraped off the bottom of a writer’s shoe. The argument between traditional and indie publishing means nothing to the reader! Let me say that again: The argument between traditional and indie publishing means nothing to the reader!

Are you listening writers? Are you listening publishers? The reader doesn’t care! They. Don’t. Care. At. All.

It’s time for EVERYONE to get over themselves. It’s not about you Mr. Author Person. It’s not about you Mr. Editor Guy. It’s not about you Mrs. Publishing Giant. It’s not about you Miss Agent Extraordinaire. It’s not about any of you. Or about me!

It’s about the Reader. And it always has been!

So let’s erase the sand lines and get back to what we are all supposed to be doing: giving the Reader quality product in the format they want at a price they can afford. That’s just simple business, folks. Simple business…

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