Don't Listen to the Naysayers (and Don't Be One)
Hi Folks, Note: This post appeared previously in slightly different form in the email in-boxes of my patrons in early December and then as a topic on my Daily Journal. "Oh, He's Indie Published? Then I Won't Bother!" (said only brain-dead lemmings ever) There. I said it. Aloud. There are people in this world who live only to be protected. They want to be told what and when to eat, which medicines to buy for real and imagined ailments, what time to go to bed and get up, and... you guessed it, what to read. And traditional publishers are only too happy to spoon-feed them. Because traditional publishers are scared. And stupid. They're scared because their very infrastrucure (brick and mortar stores, their distribution systems, their antiquated "agency model" of pricing and writer compensation) is crumbling beneath their very feet. They thought indie publishing was a passing fad when it all started back around 2006. But today, almost 14 years later, indie publishing is burgeoning. And they're stupid because all they care about now is the bottom line. They suck-in writers with measly advances, for which the writers grant them ALL RIGHTS (complete with a non-compete clause) FOR THE LIFE OF THE COPYRIGHT. The tradpubs make money IMMEDIATELY by doing nothing more than adding that IP to a line in their spreadsheet and then amortizing the value of that IP over the expected life of the author plus 70 years. Can you say "millions?" Yet authors make the trade every day. They give away potential millions of dollars for a piddling $10,000 or $20,000 advance. Millions. Do the math. But I said they're stupid, didn't I? And trading a few thousand dollars for millions in company value seems pretty smart. Well, it is. But that's ALL the tradpubs do with the IP: Add it to the spreadsheet, where it adds phantom worth to their company. To their bottom line. In the meantime, they know NOTHING about licensing. They don't even think about it. They grin and bray like jackasses all the way back to their New York penthouse apartments while allowing all of that mind-numbingly valuable IP to languish on their spreadsheet. (Except for their bestselling authors, yes.) Meanwhile, the authors can't cash-in on the value of their IP either. BECAUSE THEY SIGNED AWAY ALL RIGHTS. Now for the truly incredible part. MANY ACTUAL AUTHORS SIDE WITH TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING in their fear-invoked the-sky-is-falling warning. And even more incredibly, not only traditionally published authors. EVEN MANY INDIE-PUBLISHED AUTHORS propagate the same tired, world-weary piles of bovine excrement. I'm not kidding. Recently I read a comment from an indie author on another website who inadvertently (I hope) ran down other indie authors. As a staunch believer in myself in particular and in indie publishing in general, I was — to say the absolute least — annoyed. Listen to me. If you (or I) opened a restaurant with our own money and skill, nobody would even consider calling it a "vanity" restaurant. Same with a carpet store or starting a band or anything else. Only in writing does following your passion and believing in yourself invite ridicule. BUT THAT'S ONLY BECAUSE THE READING PUBLIC ATTENDED THE SAME SCHOOLS YOU AND I ATTENDED. They've been indoctrinated with the same BS myths about writing and publishing that we were all taught — BY NON-WRITERS — in our formative years. How insane is that? Seriously? Would you take legal advice from your plumber? Or for that matter, plumbing advice from your attorney? Then why would you, now an adult, take fiction writing advice from those who have never written fiction? Admittedly, there are millions of indie books published annually. But the cream really does rise to the top. My own career as a fiction writer is a perfect example. All we as writers can do is
1) study and learn the craft from those who've been there, 2) write to the best of our ability with our current skill level, 3) publish what we write, and 4) move on to write the next story.
Writing the next story goes to discoverability. Eventually, those who say, "Oh, he's indie published? Well, then I won't bother!" begin to notice that same indie author has 10 novels out, or 30, and 40 or 60 short stories and the attendant collections. And word of mouth begins to spread, not to mention reviews. Then the prevalent opinion among readers becomes, "The guy must be a good storyteller. Maybe I should try one of his books." As John M. Williams (a friend and writer) has said, "Good storytelling is good storytelling." And folks, once a reader tries and likes your work, they don't check to see who published it. As an added bonus, most of the "indie" writers who come in to get rich or get known are gone after a few years and a few books. And that leaves more room for those of us who keep learning and keep telling stories. Hang in there, my friends. It can only get better. And for goodness' sake, PLEASE watch what you say about other indie authors. When you run-down one, you run down us all. Please share this with any writers you know. Happy writing! Harvey Note: At the beginning of March, this blog will become my author newsletter for readers. I will talk once or twice a month about my characters and settings and worlds, announce new releases, and occasionally give away novels, novellas and collections. If you're a writer, and if you'd like to continue to get writing tips and topics almost every day, please head on over to my Daily Journal at https://hestanbrough.com and subscribe there. It's free. I publish the Journal almost every day, and it's always chock full of good writing advice you won't find anywhere else. I also link regularly to other websites I think writers might find of interest.