“Why don’t we approach literature like we approach music and the fine arts? Yes, there is a commitment when it comes to time and money. Yes, the chances of “making it” are slim. But with music, photography, and the fine arts, we “self produce” while we grow our audience and hone our craft. We work our way up, rather than break out. We love what we do, and we dream of making a living doing it, but it isn’t necessary.”
These words are from a recent blog post by Hugh Howey, which I just loved. One idea that struck me as a really cool and unique way of looking at things is the idea that, while people often ridicule indie writers as being unlikely to ever make any significant money publishing, Hugh Howey points out that 98% of those who pursue the traditional publishing route make no money at all. They never get the agent they spent years writing query letters to, they never see that big publishing deal they dreamed of, they never see any publishing deal at all. Finally, they quit and stop writing altogether. On the other hand, indie writers may make little money at first but they get to keep writing and reaching new readers. Eventually, the money may come but even if it doesn’t to the degree one might have hoped, that writer gets to keep on writing and no one is going to remove those books from the shelves. Writers who love what they do have no reason to stop doing it.
I really love indie publishing for many reasons. I’m thankful that so many opportunities exist that didn’t before—all those platforms where we can sell our books. Yes, I’m thankful for that big monster called Amazon for giving all writers an equal chance at finding an audience. This idea was unheard of just a few years ago and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. The fact is, I’m thrilled each time I sell a single book. I’m utterly elated each time one of my books receives a good review on Amazon or Goodreads. I agree with Hugh Howey’s point that publishing is a miracle and it’s magical that we can now write a book knowing it will be published, that no one can say “No, we’re not allowing that for you.”
I was one of those lucky few whose work actually was offered representation by a literary agent. Not once, but twice for two different books. I know I’ve mentioned that before on this blog but that’s not because I think I’m cool because of it. Just the opposite since both times, when I thought the world was about to turn on its axis, that a totally new day was about to dawn, nothing much happened at all (other than a great deal of back and forth regarding revisions). At the end of those two experiences, I was almost one of those who walked away from the whole deal. Thankfully, I came to my senses and, like so many authors are doing now (an ever increasing population as more authors choose indie publishing over traditional), I decided to go ahead and publish first Jump When Ready, and most recently, Streetlights Like Fireworks. This is wonderful new world of publishing these days and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. It’s just a great time for writers, in general, which is why many of us have been pulling together like never before as things keep changing rapidly around us.
There’s so much bickering going on lately, once again driving a wedge between those on the traditional side and on the indie side. Honestly, it’s getting tiresome (even though I do have some strong feelings about who the good guys really are in that particular fight). So, I appreciate that much more the point that Hugh Howey closes with: “Finally and most importantly, there shouldn’t be any animus between writers, however they publish. This is hard enough without trying to tear each other down. We are in this together. It’s our world that’s changing. In many ways, we should be standing together and demand that it change faster.”