Us vs. them is fun. It gets people’s blood boiling. It instills fear. It’s thrilling to be on a team, especially when you feel like your team is winning.
These days it seems like traditional and self-publishing are increasingly pitted against each other on blogs and forums, as if one side or the other is the bastion of all that is good and pure in the world and the other side is the bastion of all that is horrible and evil.
This is insane.
There is no “us” vs. “them.” Traditional vs. self-publishing is a false dichotomy. It’s an illusion created by people who either have let their frustrations get the best of them or are trying to sell you something. We’re all writers trying to figure out the best way to get our books to readers. We’re all on the same team.
No, the traditional publishing industry is not a hive of retrograde monsters out to steal and eat your newborn children. No, self-publishing is not a gang of unwashed crap artists trying to poison the literary well forever.
Publishing is a spectrum of choice, from traditional publishers who pay you, will handle most things for you and assume all risk in exchange for certain rights to your book, to self-publishing where you handle everything yourself, pay your own way, and adopt your own risk. And there’s a whole lot more choice in between those two poles.
What’s the right way? There is no right way.
Some authors want to let the publishers handle things for them. Some authors want to go for print glory because that’s where the bulk of readers are right now (yes, still). Some authors want the freedom of control of self-publishing. Some authors want to experiment with pricing.
And guess what: Some authors do both, and they always have. Even before e-publishing, many prominent authors got their start self-publishing. And many authors who used to be traditionally published moved to self-publishing. Some authors use hybrid models that combine elements of traditional and self-publishing.
There is no hundred foot wall between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Choosing one does not preclude the other, even if you feel like you’re currently on the outs with traditional publishing. Or did you miss the recent seven figure book deal for the self-published nutritionist?
Sure. It’s fun to join up sides and start flinging mud. It’s exciting to think that your team alone has the holy grail.
But I see a lot of authors out there getting taken for a ride by both sides. People are preying on writers’ fears and frustrations.
The only way you’ll be able to decide what’s best for you is if you ignore the pied pipers, set aside your emotions, and think only about what’s the right for your book.
Art: La Riña – Francisco de Goya
I watch writers go both ways on this. Pretty much every traditionally published author who doesn't get their contract renewed will suddenly become very fond of "self" publishing. And when a traditional publishing comes knocking many "self" published authors will go the other way.
The bottom line: writers create content, readers consume content. Everyone in between has to make sure they add to the experience.
M. G. King says
Thank you! I've always appreciated your reasonable and civil approach to publishing.
Remus Shepherd says
I'm sorry, Nathan, but I'm in the mood for a fight and you're the first target I saw. But you're wrong about this.
Traditional authors can always choose to self-publish, because they have fans that will follow them. They have contacts that can help them get reviews and publicity.
New authors, on the other hand, suffer with obscurity. They have to make a choice. They can try for traditional publishing or self-publish, but not both. Self-publishing is best done with a large backlog, so you harm yourself if you reserve a book in an attempt to find a traditional publisher, and if your self-published book does not do well then that's another reason for traditional publishers to reject you. Only if you hit the self-publishing lottery can you then transition to a real publisher.
The choice for new authors is to either roll the dice or stay on the traditional treadmill. The dichotomy is real for them.
Andrew Leon says
That's the real problem, though; most people don't really know what's right for their book.
And I have more to say, but it's time to get the kids off to school…
Nathan Bransford says
That's true of authors at one particular stage in their career, that's not necessarily true across the spectrum of a career. This isn't like the sorting hat at Hogwarts – you don't choose one path and stay there forever.
You may choose for each particular project, but this idea that there are hundred foot walls between these methods of publication isn't real.
Jeff Emmerson says
Thank you – I really appreciate your resources. In this crazy world of trying to figure out how to REALLY get worldwide exposure for my up-coming memoir book The Road to Myself: Dying to Live, all help is appreciated as I do my homework.
Have a great day!
Rachel Devenish Ford says
Big sigh of relief. A voice of reason. Thanks, Nathan. I totally agree… And I think traditional publishers are able to perceive each book as a separate project. Authors needs to think of their books as part of a BODY of work, it can cross many genres and criss cross types of publication. No one really know what the effect of self publishing is on traditional publishers in the future anyways, because we aren't there yet, and it seems to be changing so quickly. (We weren't even having these conversations six years ago.)
M.P. McDonald says
@Remus, I don't believe a self-published author has to 'hit the lottery', to be a success. At least, not any more than a traditionally published author has to hit the NYT Bestseller list to be a success. There are plenty of 'mid-listers' out there self-publishing. They are selling from 1,000-3,000 books/month. You don't hear about them because they don't make the news, but they outnumber the Hockings, Howeys and Konraths.
I'm one of them, and I know a dozen more just from my small circle of author friends.
As far as the self-publishing vs. traditional publishing rivalry goes, I can only say that I hadn't seen anyone picking on traditional authors-at least, not until one famous author wrote a letter to the DOJ in support of the publishers. The focus of one outspoken author with a huge blog following, has been on challenging the publishers to improve contracts. Wouldn't that HELP traditionally published authors? I think it would, but a lot of the traditional authors take issue with his rather abrasive posts instead of seeing past the harshness and getting the message.
Otoh, I can't tell you how often I've read traditionally published authors, or those seeking that route to publishing, trashing self-published books as 'dreck', and 'slush pile'.
Another excellent post on this topic!
I'm one of those who do both. And for all the reasons you stated…as if you'd read my mind.
I still prefer publishers handling everything. But I also wanted to know what it would be like to control everything, including pricing. This is why I experimented with the KDP program. No complaints at all. Sales are very good. And it's nice to know I can do it alone.
Sorry I can't scream and shout in either direction, but both kinds of publishing have their advantages and disadvantages.
Melissa Douthit says
"Traditional authors can always choose to self-publish, because they have fans that will follow them. They have contacts that can help them get reviews and publicity.
New authors, on the other hand, suffer with obscurity. They have to make a choice. They can try for traditional publishing or self-publish, but not both. Self-publishing is best done with a large backlog, so you harm yourself if you reserve a book in an attempt to find a traditional publisher, and if your self-published book does not do well then that's another reason for traditional publishers to reject you. Only if you hit the self-publishing lottery can you then transition to a real publisher."
You should talk to Joe Konrath about this. He was doing very poorly as a trad pubbed author and then had a ton of success as an indie. And his success had nothing to do with being trad pubbed.
Most trad pubbed authors have had to work hard their whole lives building a fan base. New authors, whether indie or trad, will have to do the same. It's called work. So, sorry, I don't agree with you.
Matthew MacNish says
Well clearly what's right for my book is an 8 figure deal, world rights, and a Hollywood blockbuster. So whatever gets me that …
Megg Jensen says
(I'm self-pubbed and I agree with you 100%)
author Christa Polkinhorn says
Excellent. Finally an intelligent assessment of the Literati War. LOL.
Remus Shepherd says
I have had words with Konrath about this. He refuses to admit that his traditional publication and the $20k advance he got for it had anything to do with his ability to go indie. I think he's delusional. But I'm sure he thinks the same of me.
Trad pubbed authors work hard to build a fan base, but they have help doing so from their agents and publishers. New authors have to build their own fan base, and one of the best ways to do that is with multiple titles that link to each other, which leaves nothing in reserve to wait through the traditional publishing process.
The vast majority of self-published ebooks have total sales in the hundreds, if that. If you manage 1,000 books a month then you're a lottery winner. If you're stuck in the hundreds, then you've just lost a novel to indie publishing that traditional publishers will not touch, and you've labeled yourself as someone who cannot move their own product. You must succeed wildly at indie publishing before a traditional publisher will consent to talk to you.
Those who are already successful can choose either path. New authors must make a choice. If they choose wisely and find success, then they can switch between trad and indie later. But at the start of an author's career the choice is real, it is exclusionary, and it must be made.
D.G. Hudson says
Well said, Nathan. I also agree with Bob, the first comment.
I'll definitely go with what works for me, I don't ususally follow the trends.
Nathan Bransford says
Definitely a true and reasonable take, though I personally feel like it's a book to book choice rather than a career choice at the beginning. If you're writing a series or genre fiction self-publishing may continue to be the best avenue once you start down that path barring huge success, but other books might lend themselves to giving the traditional publishing process a shot.
And that's just the landscape right now – who knows how things will change in the future.
D.G. Hudson says
Geez, please change that strange word to 'usually'.
I'm probably nuts for saying this, but… umm… I'm so far from having a "fan base" of ANY kind that all I can think about is: Am I telling an honestly good story, and telling it well? Until I can answer those questions "Yes" with confidence, I feel like obsessing over publication medium would reflect the same sort of broken thinking as when I obsess about Times New Roman vs. Georgia vs. Courier. (Difference of degree, not of kind.)
Lisa Yarde says
Thank you, Nathan, for saying this as I'm also tired of the division. Many minds, many paths and the right choice at the moment may differ twenty years from now. None of us are wedded to the choices we've made forever and with ever-changing technology and delivery systems, hopefully this division becomes outdated thinking too.
Thanks for this, Nathan. I struggled for a long time with this issue but have since learned that, as an independent editor, the best way to serve my clients is to accept the changing canvas of publishing. I now see it as an exciting time in the industry, with more options than ever.
Remus Shepherd says
Fair enough, Nathan. Let's agree that it's a decision that needs to be made for the first published book — with the caveat that an author might write a dozen books before any one of them gets published.
Rick Daley says
It all boils down to one thing: Opportunity.
I think it's a grand time to be a writer. We have more freedom in our decision-making than ever before, and more information at our disposal to make educated decisions.
"And that's just the landscape right now – who knows how things will change in the future."
Exactly. And this is why authors have to pay attention to everything that is going on, and also be willing the move forward with the changes.
Susan Kaye Quinn says
Self-pub and trad-pub are two different highways to the same goal: readers. We writers need to stop throwing rocks at each other from our respective weedy paths and work on supporting each other (and learning from each other!) as we swirl through the cauldron of innovation that is going on in the industry right now.
If we work together, we can help each other find our own pathways to success.
(Note: I think most writers do this already, as evidenced by the awesome support yesterday across the spectrum of writers (indie and trad-bound) for the release of my latest indie novel. This community knows how to be awesome like no other!)
Kevin Lynn Helmick says
I really don't see it all that much. I don't get around the web as much as Nathaian I guess, but except for this blog, like what, twice in about a week, an us vs them thing? I felt like it had kinda died off a bit since say, about a year ago.
Most of the wirters I converse with have had a little success with both, have had national bestseller, films adapts and gone the way of small press' and self, and if they have an opinion of eithier they don't share it. They don't seem to really care as much as bloggers do. They care about writing, good stories and getting on.
There are a couple in my circles that have been around and been bitterd by the big six for what ever reason, and I suspect from some of the things they've said that it had as much to do with themselves as anybody.
I go the way of the writer. I write. I don't really care to waste my energy on any, us vs them nonsense. I sit down and write the very best book I can write. And then go through the process of getting it out there, how ever I can.
I would love to replace Snooky or whatever her name is on the bestseller list, lol. i would love to see any literary writer be there instead. But we're not even on the same field. Her personality is her product. I get it. So I don't worry about it.
I think success however you get there is abbout finding your audiance, your peeps and connecting and comunicating and touching lives. Big or small, that's all it is. That's all that matters.
Mirka Breen says
I agree, Nathan.
The only clear distinction I would draw is for those lay folks who know little about publishing, who say, “It’s easy to get published. My two ten-year-old twin cousins both have books out.” Cousins are likely self published, and Mom supplied the credit card. Being paid rather than paying for your writing is still hard.
*No comment on quality in general. We've all read good self-published books and bad books publishers paid good money for.*
The world is full of wars. This is one that need not be.
I totally agree, Nathan. Which is why I was surprised at your post earlier this week because it seemed rather one-sided. In fact, the blog post you linked to from Sarah LaPollas's side was really antagonizing to self-publishers. For example, why is she harping about the term "indie authors"? I'm sorry, but the term has been co-opted by self-publishers and the tide is not going to change in the other direction. It's a fact, and it is actually a very accurate description — who is working more independently than a self-published author?
She also made a comment about how she had no plans to work with authors who had already self-published. That seems pretty short-sighted to me. Her statements and yours did not seem to mesh with today's post. Self-publishers will obviously tout the benefits of self-publishing. What's wrong with that? They chose it for a reason and they will spread that reason to others. And yes, there are flaws in traditional publishing that new authors should know about.
Nathan Bransford says
I actually agree with Sarah about the term "indie" – to me it has always meant independent publishers like Soho, Greywolf, etc. and I still use "traditional" and "self-publishing" instead of "indie" and "legacy. I understand what you're saying that the spirit of self-publishing is independent, but to me there's a certain oppositional attitude inherent in "indie" and "legacy" that kind of rubs me the wrong way. The word for self-publishing had already existed; I don't know why a new one was needed and why another one had to be co-opted. But I'm not going to tell people what they can and can't call themselves.
Also, I wouldn't necessarily read an endorsement into everything I link to. I don't agree with all of what other people say, even in times when I agree with an author's overall point. That said, I don't see where in Sarah's post she says she wouldn't work with authors who have self-published.
I completely agree with the idea that writers need to support each other. But that is alittle different from taking the stance that all paths to publication are equally beneficial. I don't agree with that, although I definitely agree with the writer's right to choose.
The thing is that although I have a HUGE beef with the publishing industry, because I think it is extremely exploitive of writers, and hurtful to them, I speak about that Because I Care about writers and want them to be treated well. If I have an issue with traditional publishing it has everything to do with supporting other authors.
It's really unfortunate that people often interpret it differently, as though I were attacking the writers rather than the industry. It's a frustrating and inaccurate twist.
I won't and can't be silent about what I see are serious inequities. But I am not trying to take anyone for a ride. I am trying to improve conditions for everyone, from my tiny little corner of the publishing world, which is pretty much posting comments on your blog.
Nathan Bransford says
Perspective is important, I just think some authors bristle at being called exploited when they feel like they are intimately aware of and are living the pros and cons. I think where people may feel attacked is when there's a presumption that they aren't able to decide what's best for their careers.
R. L. Copple says
Nathan, first, I agree with your general point. Personally, I've had books published by an indie-publisher, Splashdown Books, out of New Zealand. Third one coming out next month. I've also self-published some books as well. I've not been traditionally published, and for the time being, don't intend to try. Mainly because contract terms like giving them the rights for the life of the copyright are way too much for me, which I've been told has become standard template and nonnegotiable in most cases.
But at some point that might change. And at some point, I might end up with an offer from a traditional publisher, and I would certainly consider it and decide whether it was a good move or not.
IOW, though I'm not in the market for being traditionally published now, that could change. As another said, who knows where publishing and publishers will be ten or twenty years down the road? At some point, I might be really stupid to not take a traditional publisher's offer.
So I do think it a good thing not to burn bridges or create and us vs. them mentality(though pointing out where there are problems shouldn't be burning bridges, it should be constructive criticism that encourages positive change for everyone involved). And I've even done a blog post on when self-publishing authors can go wrong.
But for the record, I do tend to use indie-publishing and self-publishing interchangeably. My definitions:
Indie-publisher: An entity who uses POD to publish multiple authors' books. (Technically, a self-publisher is an independent publisher, but see the reasons for referring to actual publishers of more than one author with that title.)
Indie-publishing: Any entity who uses POD and/or epublishing to publish a book.
Indie-author: A self-published author.
But I also acknowledge that using the term indie-publisher is more ambiguous than self-publisher. The former could refer to a small publisher using POD, but publishes multiple authors, and the author had to get past their "gates" to get accepted, while the latter can only refer to an individual who has published their novel. So using self-publisher, self-publishing, is more specific. As writers, that is what we strive to do, write clearly.
Oh, but aside from our small disagreement about certain paths to publication, fwiw, I really like what I think you're trying to do in this post – which I interpret as: encouraging writers to detach from the emotions of the landscape in order to make rational decisions about their own books; to think about what people are saying and not let themselves be maniuplated by jumping on a bandwagon prematurely; and to not let themselves be set against other writers.
Bravo for that, Nathan! 🙂
You have a really good point. I'll have to think about how to phrase it. I could see how people could feel critisized and I hadn't thought of it that way. Thank you!
Because I am in no way critiquing writers who are fully informed and still choose to take the traditional path because it serves their interest. I am more concerned that new authors are informed, and that the publishers themselves feel some pressure (as much as I can generate from my tiny little corner). Thank you – I'm grateful for the feedback, I'll work on that.
Nathan Bransford says
James Scott Bell says
The last couple of years have indeed produced a plethora of blog exhaust aimed at the face of the traditional publishing industry. My friend, agent Wendy Lawton, has coined a term for this type of vituperative castigation: Occupy Publishing.
Some of this is indeed sour grapes. Some is payback for rejection.
Yet, to be fair, there is merit to some of the complaints. I have a few writer friends who are being treated rather shabbily by their current publishers.
One has been told, in no uncertain terms, that self-publishing anything can lead to dire consequences–from the publisher.
Another has been a good soldier and just turned in her third book in a series. The contract is up and she hasn’t signed another. Suddenly, her editor is not returning her emails. This is unprofessional conduct by an insider who should know better.
There are, however, other writers being treated with eminent fairness by their publishers. And both those writers are happy.
Seriously, having feet in both the traditional and indie world, I’ve not been one to dance a jig at the troubles in traditional publishing. It’s made up of people, mostly people who really do want writers to succeed. They also want to make money for their company. In other words, they’re just like the rest of us. And many of them are hamstrung because there is a system in place grinding with rust caused by the sea change in digital publishing.
I have been most fortunate to have a great agent and good relations with trad publishers. But I have to say this to some inside the walls of the Forbidden City: your bread and butter are writers. At least treat them with professional courtesy.
And to writers: there’s no reason to go around burning bridges. I gagged at one blog I saw where the writer named his editor, laid an unseemly nickname on him and proceeded to flay him publicly for his many perceived sins.
I mean, come on.
It's much more effective and professional to simply go about your business, which is writing, and self-publishing when ready.
We are living in an old black and white Warner Bros. film now. We can get thrown out of the agent’s office and yell back, “I’ll show you! I’m gonna be the biggest star on Broadway someday! You just wait and see!”
And then we can go out and prove ourselves.
Peter Dudley says
There is definitely a bright us-versus-them line between traditional publishing and anything Amazon. Authors aren't drawing that line. But everyone else appears to be, from publishers to agents to booksellers. I think it hurts authors. But this, too, shall pass. One way or another.
First, great post. People are drawing lines where there really don't need to be any lines drawn. I am trying for the 'traditional' way for reasons that are my own. Those reasons are right for me, they may not be right for you, or someone else, but I expect you (the generic you) to respect my decision just as I'll respect yours to self-pub. Good luck and may we meet on the bestseller list! No need for antagonism.
Regarding Sarah's post, there were two things in it that looked like they could have been slaps at all self-pubbers, and one that appeared to imply that she wouldn't even consider you if self-pubbed. However, in reading over the line again, and seeing her responses in the comments, I think it's something that's just been misinterpreted.
Nathan, Sarah wrote in regards to self-published authors:
"Further, they ask me "what I can do for them," while handing me their books, not realizing they've already chosen a path that doesn't include me."
That pretty clearly indicates she would not work with self-published authors.
I realize every link you make is not an endorsement, but it was a jumping off point for your own post.
Richard Gibson says
Self-pubbed and about to be traditionally pubbed, so of course I agree with Nathan. I can do anything I want! (Well, I want to be rich and that's not happening, but it's MY fault!)
Mr. D says
This is one of the best "comment" dialogues ever!
Nathan Bransford says
I can't speak for Sarah, but when I was an agent I felt that way about individual projects – it was the rare self-published book that I felt like I could then take to publishers (though there was one where I did just that). For the most part a self-published book will stay a self-published book. But that wouldn't preclude working with a self-published author on their next project.
My hunch is that that's what Sarah meant by that line, but like I said, I can't speak for her.
Taylor Napolsky says
Yeah, I think she meant she couldn't help with that particular self-published book, not the author in general.
I have to agree here to, on the idea that this whole "line in the sand" idea between traditional and self publishing is pretty much nonsense. There's no real reason for it. There is certainly a "viva revolution" mentality in some parts of the self publishing world, this idea of over-throwing/toppling corporate structure, David vs. Goliath, and so on. It has a certain appeal to it.
I can't say I agree with the idea of the oppressed rising up against the oppressor. Does change need to happen? Surely, it does. Authors do deserve better compensation from traditional publishers. The deserve to be treated more fairly when it comes to contractual terms. They have not choice in the matter, I don't think, unless they want to continue to lose writers to the ranks of the self-published.
I'm not overly fond of the in-your-face approach that we see from bloggers like Konrath and Eisler. On the other hand, they're trumpeting a voice that really does need to be heard. Someone has to take up that torch, and I for one, am not that combative. It does serve a useful purpose though of raising the issues to a level that people will listen, which is important.
That said, digital vs traditional is not really an either/or discussion, unless we move into the realm of the industry going entirely to mode where writer's books are printed in a POD environment, but that's another discussion entirely. Too many books don't lend themselves well to digital, so paper will never go away. Certain kinds of books lend themselves very well to digital, like genre fiction, and we may very well see digital dominating those books in the future. It will be a very blended industry more than likely.
For me, traditional will always hold a certain element of appeal, because they provide all of the needed services to get your story into print. Publishing's mentality has been "we're taking all the risk, so we're taking most of the profit." We can argue the level of sharing in this, but it's hard to argue the basic concept. Are you willing to forego most of the profit in order let professionals handle everything else? Given the potential of self-publishing now, that's a difficult question to tackle. Going the other route is just as difficult in my opinion, but again, the potential rewards are higher or can be.
What this argument/debate seems to be doing of late, which I find problematic, is that you are getting a group of self-published folk who are saying you're basically ignorant and/or stupid to try for traditional publishing. They take too much of your well-deserved money. Compared to what you can potentially earn self-publishing, this is an easy statement to make. Publishers can no longer snicker at writers who self-published. We've reached a level where the successes have shown that it's legitimate. It's up to them now to act to balance this tipping of the scales.
What's a fairer compensation from traditional publishing? That's a hard question to answer. How much are the services they provide worth to you as an author, assuming a positive working relationship/experience. Is 10% royalty fair, 15%? I've yet to see any real discussion about what exactly would be deemed reasonable and fair. It's always "traditional sucks, so don't do it." I'd love to see a real, transparent breakdown so we could see just what might legitimately be deemed fair.
If I were to venture a guess, I'd say that publishers try to get away with the lowest rate they can. The question then becomes, where is the ceiling? At some point, it would break through the bottom line, but there is obviously a gap between what is offered and what can legitimately be given. There's a happy medium in there somewhere that I'd like to see. And writers now have the leverage of self-publishing behind them to begin to ask this kind of question. So, publishers, what is that ceiling number? What royalty rate could you actually be offering me? I'm curious, as are a great many others I'm sure.
Tracy Edward Wymer says
The only people I see discussing this so-called "war" is Konrath and the traditional publishing industry pros who keep posting on this topic. Other than that, everything seems kosher. Have I missed something here? Are there other warmongering blogs I'm not reading? If so, I'll keep it that way. Thanks for the post, Nathan.
Mart Ramirez says
Well said, Nathan!
Margo Lerwill says
Thanks for being a moderate voice, Nathan. I'm in the unusual position of having had good experiences with traditional publishing even though the contract eventually fell through and of now making my living as a self-published writer (without the traditional base we supposedly need, btw, Remus). Both experiences have been invaluable. Having had a look at both sides of the fence and maintaining ties with people in both worlds, I firmly believe it's a matter of what's right for the writer and for that particular project, not a battle of good versus evil.
Marilyn Peake says
I’ve been saying the same thing for a very long time. The other day, I summed up my feelings about recent publishing battles with this tweet: “Media has taught us well how to avoid questioning and moral dilemmas by treating every problem without nuance. Just US vs. THEM…Go!” And I think this goes far beyond publishing. We seem to be geniuses (or idiots) about breaking up very serious issues into only two starkly divided camps: US vs. THEM. I’m beginning to think there may be some deeply biological reason for this. As climate continues to change and more places are wiped out by extreme weather, as worldwide economies that are all connected globally continue to struggle in ways that could bring us all to financial ruin, as we’re being introduced daily to strange new customs in a brand new globally interconnected world, as 50% to 80% of new college graduates around the world are returning home to live with their parents with no future job prospects because college graduates are now hired for a global pool of industry, as we’re threatened by newly emerging viruses and food and water shortages, I think biology is screaming out: “Out of my way! MY group is going to breed and win and SURVIVE!” This is totally irrational, of course, since cooperation, sane management (rather than destruction) of resources, and rapid development of technology would help us out the most. But, there ya have it, when has the human race ever been rational? And, in this chaos, some groups are able to grab power and control. Modern media lets us eat cake in a verbal gladiatorial arena while raking in lots of money in advertising. “Go, go, team!” I think this may also be part of what has led to a sudden rise in anti-birth-control politics. Biology is screaming out: “Breed! Fight! Win!” Not too smart, but the threatened animal brain doesn’t operate on logic.
On the positive side, the creative inventors just keep steaming ahead, inventing new things and helping us move on to a quieter, less endangered place of survival. If SpaceX and other private space companies open up moon bases that alleviate some of the stress from an overpopulated Earth, for instance, maybe we’ll simmer down once again back on our home planet.
As for writers, many just keep quietly steaming ahead, taking us new places. For example, look at what happened to Hugh Howey, the author of the WOOL series. I recognize him from the Kindle Boards! He was just a quiet writer, self-publishing his books through Amazon’s KDP Select Program. Then – wham! – all of a sudden, he’s in a movie bidding war in Hollywood and has a fantastic movie deal, the big publishers around the world offer him book deals and he picks and chooses where to sign and where to remain independent. So awesome! Here’s the story: How My Self-Published Book ‘Wool’ Became A Hot Movie Property. Hugh is about to become a hybrid author, truly independent or “indie.” He’ll soon be self-published, traditionally published, AND have a huge movie deal. So much for “us vs. them.”
After reading this post, I'm compelled to veer in another direction. There are several reasons that have convinced me to self-publish and they're so persuasive that I'm unlikely to consider the alternate route.
Setting aside the issue of whether a book is good or not, well written or not, the fact is that any book written is the fruit of the creativity of the writer, regardless of its nature.
To seek a traditional publisher, you must sell the product of your imagination, offer it to the highest, or in most cases, the only bidder. You loose all rights to its future and if you're not careful and you don't understand the in and out of contracts, you may be losing it forever. If other authors feel as I do, it's like peddling your soul in perpetuity.
From experience, reading some of the new fiction published by other self-published authors, I've found that truly creative people are capable of producing marvelous works if they're allowed the freedom to do so. For a new writer (and who knows what talent still lurks, waiting to amaze us in the future) the task of seeking traditional publishing can be a futile heart-breaker. In the past traditional publishing was the only option, but now new writers have other avenues to make their presence known. They can be self-published.
Rather than be discouraged and depressed by the seeming indifference of endless impersonal rejections, taking years off their lives, they can try to seek the approval of the reader, not a college intern screening the slush pile for the 'next best thing'.
For someone who's traditionally published and obviously satisfied with the experience, you can extol the value of traditional publishing, but for the new writers, unsure of their talent, it's not the best option.
As for me, I'd rather take my fate in my own hands, own my own soul, and not sell it to the highest bidder.
Of course this is an opinion, and there is a saying about opinions that I don't need to repeat here.
Sheila Cull says
When I first read the title I noted to say, "a dichotomy can't be true or false," but after reading your piece I totally understand.
I'm surprised that there's even division on this matter. This division happened really recently. Did you think, say, three years ago, that this would be an issue in need of addressing?
If you make gold, people will develop an attraction. This applies to everything, books included. Yes?