Reality Doesn't Care Whether You Want To Be A Publisher Or Not
Couple of days ago, author Chuck Wendig made this post on his blog:
NOT EVERY WRITER WANTS TO BE A PUBLISHER This is something I see often enough: an author talks about losing a series or having some difficulties with a publisher or whatever, and someone from the crowd eventually says, “You should self-publish. We want more of you, the money’s better, we’ll support you. Plus, so many options! Amazon! Kickstarter! Bookflipper! Pub-Burger!” Sometimes it’s a polite suggestion, sometimes it’s double-barrel proselytization and they start spouting off “facts and figures” along with a dose of venom against the oppression of the traditional system.
Some writers just want to be writers.They don’t also want to be publishers.It’s just that simple. Neither wrong nor right. It’s a personal and professional choice.
Self-publishing is an act separate from writing.Not every writer has the time, the talent, or the interest.
Both writing and publishing take work. Self-publishing demands the work of both.
Worth it for some, tricky or undesirable for others.
This isn’t meant to dissuade any author from going that route. It’s more to dissuade everybody else from haranguing authors about self-publishing when it’s just not in their wheelhouse. ...
All of the above is very true. And this is a great article. I understand the point of view. I mean, who among us HASN'T felt overwhelmed when our job suddenly starts demanding some new adaptation or new technology or new training? It can be doggone scary. So yeah, there are some writers who don't want to be publishers.
I suspect that will be LESS true in the future, however. I mean - back when I started writing, nobody knew how to use computers. That was a tech thing - you had to be a serious nerd to have a home computer back in 1980 or so. But somehow, now, most writers have managed to pick up those incredibly difficult computer skills, so that now it's rare indeed to find a writer still espousing the virtues of her manual typewriter. ;)
Likewise self publishing.
Yes, you need to learn how to find your very own editor and cover designer, which means you need to learn what good editing and covers look like. And you probably ought to learn how to format your own ebooks, too (hint: it is roughly the same level of difficulty as exporting a PDF from Word, and my six year old was exporting flawless Epub and Mobi files - two years ago, when she was four).
Everything else, you have to do anyway. Marketing, promotion, accounting, all that jazz? Guys, I've done both the trad route and the indie route. There's no real difference in the level of complexity of any of those things, whichever path you choose.
If anything, I found that the indie route allows more time for writing, and less time dealing with publishing hassles.
There's no guarantee that your self published book will earn you as much as it would via a regular publishing deal. But then, there's no guarantee that book would get a regular publishing deal, either. If the average indie book earns say $100 a year, as some folks say - well, do recall that the average submission to a major publisher earns something like a penny. Ever. Because most submitted books are terrible, just like most of the self published books which earn poorly. If your book isn't ready for prime time, it's not going to do well. Being ready for prime time doesn't mean it will automatically win through (how many times was Rowlings rejected?), but those low averages are skewed by all the books out there which just were not ready.
We're rocketing toward a future where agents are busily going into publishing themselves or going out of business. Where publishers are actively scanning the bestseller lists for authors of good self published books to pick up. There's some suggestion that self publishing might even *replace* agents as the first gatekeeper. If that happens - and it might be happening now - in a couple of years you'll see all the Writer's Digest articles about "how to self publish so you can get a traditional deal".
But even if things don't pan out that way, the writers coming up through the ranks today are learning ebook self publishing as part of their basic training. Those of us in the old guard may or may not feel warm and cozy about this stuff, just like those of us back in the 80s were iffy about losing our typewriters for those 'computer' things.
But it's changing, with or without us.
That change isn't an option.
How we choose to react to that change is up to us.