I have seen a few articles by trade published authors about making the decision to “go indie” or self publish. Some of these are interesting for a multitude of reasons. I am not posting this as any kind of “Trad pub is bad” stuff, or “Indie is too hard” or whatever – both worlds are valuable and both have the promise of success and the risk of failure. That being said, this article gives an interesting break down of the paradigm shift in publishing: Why Authors Walk Away From Good, Big 5 Publishers
In it, Harry Bingham says “On the contrary, from my own point of view, the ability to say, “Thank you, but no” to a massive publisher is an utterly revolutionary and liberating shift.”
That pretty much sums it up. I have read many articles by authors abandoning the trade publishing treadmill for the freedom of “going indie” aka self publishing. But the freedom of choice, and I mean real choice, between a viable trade deal where you gain and lose some things dependent on your skin in the game, and an equally viable self published route in which you win and lose some things depending on your skin in the game, is a massive thing. Nobody has an author over the barrel when it comes to the treatment of their property any more.
Sure, it is hard (damn hard) to make any money in the indie game, but the indie game exists and there is no question that a lot of people are making a living at it. Many thousands of writers who would never make it in the old world.
Yes it is true, a lot of us don’t make much at all at this point from our books. We may work a menial day job which barely covers the bills. But I write and I control what I write and I have the freedom to say no to any offer which doesn’t add up. I’m not desperate to “publish at any cost.” Before the ebook and POD systems of today, many authors potentially lost out big time in their early careers because of just such desperation. That need never happen again, and publishing in both worlds, the trade and the indie, will only grow stronger now that those worlds have finally managed to adapt somewhat to the new paradigm.
For those who are curious, yes, I have already said “thanks, but no thanks,” to offers. I have not been querying agents or publishers. I have had approaches from shysters, small fry, and wannabes, we all get that, but also some more legitimate mobs as well, and so far none were the right offer at the right time in a world where I have real choice. I may well have been forced into a horrible contract twenty some years ago, but not today.
Some argue that the money earned from an advance and the backing of a big publisher would be worth it, but the reality is what advance? what backing? Not all offers come with such things, and in this world, we have the opportunity to say “no, come back with a real offer when you are ready,” and I feel that is what is going to happen – the real choice paradigm will correct the shift caused by the initial fear and revenue loss felt by trade publishers, and as the dust settles, it is authors and readers who are the biggest winners at the end of the day.
A couple more articles about authors moving from trade to indie: