I have a great guest post today by author India Drummond. Excellent take on aspiring authors and their place in today’s crazy world of publishing. Have a read and be sure to check out all of India’s info and her new novel, Ordinary Angels, which is available today on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble!
India knew from age nine that writing would be her passion. Since then she’s discovered many more, but none quite so fulfilling as creating a world, a character, or a moment and watching them evolve into something complex and compelling. She has lived in three countries and four American states, is a dual British and American citizen, and currently lives at the base of the Scottish Highlands in a village so small its main attraction is a red phone box. In other words: paradise.
The supernatural and paranormal have always fascinated India. In addition to being an avid sci-fi and fantasy reader, she also enjoys mysteries, thrillers, and romance. This probably explains why her novels have elements of adventure, ghosts (or elves, fairies, angels, aliens, and whatever else she can dream up), and spicy love stories.
“Aspiring Authors are Like Virgins”
A friend of mine told me about a book launch party she went to recently. The conversation at the party turned to the publishing industry and from there on to indie publishing. Every single person in the room was, according to my friend, very disparaging about anyone who would consider self-publishing.
Think that attitude is uncommon? What nowadays? In the days of Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath and a hundred other successful indies? Even after Jake posted in March, flat-out telling everyone to cut the crap and stop drawing lines in the sand about indies v. big publishers?
I’ve even had so-called aspiring authors unfollow my blog because I said I was going indie for future books.
Am I offended? Nope.
Why? Because aspiring authors are like virgins.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how much harder life was after that initial publishing acceptance than I expected. It took more work, more planning, more organisation, more time. This led me into a metaphor about marriage—another thing that is often harder than people expect it to be.
Aspiring authors, like virgins, often daydream about Mr Right/Agent—how he’ll swoop in on his white horse, slay the dragon of obscurity (and insecurity), and take them off to live in a land of charity balls and photo-shoots. We older and wiser folks shake our heads and say, no, life isn’t like that…especially not publishing life. Even if you find Mr Right/Agent, it doesn’t work like that.
I suppose if we want to extend the metaphor, traditionally published authors are like the old married folks who tell said virgins they really should wait for Mr Right. So we indies are like divorcees or confirmed bachelors, free to fuck whomever we want to, any time we want to. Somewhere around here the metaphor falls apart, but I’m sure you get the point.
Unlike Jake, however, I think the argument is an important one and I’m cheering for it to rage on. Not because one side will win while the other will crawl off to lick its wounds. I think the publishing industry will survive, with or without indies. But the debate will bring about change. The time for change has come.
And the changes aren’t just within companies, but within individuals. A year or so ago Joe Konrath thought that only previously published folks should try self-publishing. Now he says nothing should stop anyone from going ahead. A year ago literary agent Mary Kole said she believed “most self-published books, unless professionally edited beforehand, will read like my slush pile, not like the New American Literature.” Then just last month she said, “Between June 30th, 2010, and now, I’ve evolved from my scathing, short-sighted take on self-publishing.”
Why the change? Partly because new technology has given life to digital publishing. And I also believe the change is occurring because the debate is happening. Without Joe and Amanda speaking up about their real numbers and real experiences with self-publishing, none of us might have heard of them, and many of us wouldn’t have used them as inspiration to give it a go ourselves. The more serious, professional authors who take up indie publishing will mean the lower the percentage of stuff out there that’s not worthy of a reader’s time. (I never really bought into that ‘most indie stuff is crap’ argument, considering that you can get sample chapters of any Kindle book—I can always tell on the first page if a book is well-written.)
But I don’t say to aspiring authors “stop aspiring and start publishing.” I’ll let my success speak for me. And if they want to unfollow me in the meantime, that’s OK. After another year of rejection letters, plus 18 months of waiting and editing and making changes they don’t agree with to their manuscripts, only to earn 8% and have their books disappear from shelves in a couple of weeks… well, I think they’ll come around.
Besides, they’re virgins. It’s best to be gentle.
Love this post! I totally agree with everything except for where she disagrees with me. That’s just crazy talk. 🙂 Seriously, though, I think the debate should keep going on about “indie” and “traditional” publishing. Healthy debate is, well, healthy. What isn’t healthy is a war. No one ever wins that way. Keep the debate going, but keep the line drawing out of it. Everyone is new to today’s publishing world so everyone needs to be open and flexible. Don’t cut yourself off from something or burn any bridges when no one knows what the “something” is or where the “bridges” are.