By Laura Drake
All of us at WITS have shied away from the Traditional/Indie battle. After all, many have waded into the fray, yelling their opinions at the top of their lungs. When we conceived Writers in the Storm, we pictured it a shelter for writers from the storms that brew in publishing. I believe we’ve succeeded, at least, so far.
But our silence has begun, for me, to sound like avoidance, so I thought I’d put my toe in the waters.
Susan Squires, New York Times Bestselling friend of mine just decided to publish her next series completely independently. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised at first — after all, she’s made a living for years with New York Big 6 publishers. For me, she’s a poster child of Traditional publishing.
She made the decision after much contemplation and challenging of her beliefs:
- She has retired from the nine to five, and frankly doesn’t need the advances any longer.
- She’s seen her books on a shelf in the bookstores.
- She’s had the validation — won the awards, had the accolades.
- The thought of jumping into another publishing contract, her success or failure at the whim of someone else, just didn’t seem right anymore.
- She has a readership, and a large mailing list.
She admitted that the technology was scary. But she felt she had a reputation to maintain, and wasn’t willing to trust that to anyone else. So she jumped in. Her first indie published novel is out now. I’m reading Do You Believe in Magic now, and it is riveting.
But before you can make the right choice, you need to be clear about your motives. What do you perceive as success? What do you want for your career? How you answer these questions and those below should help make things clearer.
- Are you looking for validation? Someone who is responsible for committing corporate resources, singling you out of the crowd, saying, “You. You, right there. I want your book.”
- Are you willing to be edited? Not just line edits, but the structure, order and presentation of characters in your books?
- Are you willing to give up control of the cover, and possibly even the author’s name on the cover?
- Do you want a chunk of money up front, or are you taking the long view?
Whichever method you choose, for the love of yourself and your writing, please consider your choices honestly and carefully. We’ve got a post coming on Wednesday from Susan Spann, literary attorney, to help you define the terms that go into these choices.
But here’s the part I don’t understand:
Why would a choice you make about your career upset me? I really don’t get it.
It’s not that I’m not passionate about causes. If there is injustice, hand me a sign and I’ll join the picket line. If someone needs help, I’ve got two willing hands.
But how you publish is an individual choice. My choice affects only me, and my career. So why would that be seen by anyone as a threat or a judgement by me of their choices?
Not to pick on J.A. Konrath — I’ve giggled behind my hand at his blog’s clever condemnation of NY Publishing. At times I’ve even nodded my head in agreement. But I don’t understand why the debate has to get vitriolic.
This is our call for détente in the author wars.
Writing is hard. We should be supporting each other.
In the nervous words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”
What are your thoughts on the debate? What questions did you ask yourself before you made your decision? For those of you who have walked both the indie and traditional publishing paths, what do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of each?