Is it courageous to break away from the pack and take your destiny into your own hands or is it foolishness to leave the tried and true path? I'm not sure. Really, I'm not. This question has been plaguing me of late.
I've been following Joe Konrath for a good while now. He's smart, interesting, and pulls no punches. If you haven't heard of him (which I can't fathom you haven't) then I suggest you check out his blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.
The reason I mention Mr. Konrath is that he has been encouraging writers to leave the traditional publishing path and consider self-publishing e-books. There is no doubt he has had great success doing this, and has given examples of other writers (many without traditional publishing backgrounds) doing the same.
I've been mulling over all the pros and cons. Looking at all the stigmas. The words "self-published" have been such ugly words in the writing world for so long that I feel a certain amount of shame when I consider taking this path. But in this budding e-book universe we find ourselves in, should this stigma remain?
I still love paper books, and always will. And I know that inviting every writer to self-publish will just saturate the market with electronic mountains of trash, but eventually the cream always rises to the top. Then comes the word "vanity" which somehow attaches itself to self-publishing and not to its traditional counterpart. But as Konrath points out, if all I want is to see my name on the spine of a book, to win awards, or to be on the New York Times Best Seller List, that sounds pretty vain. But if my goal is to reach readers and make enough money to continue writing full time why should I care if my book is electronic or the dead tree variety?
Still, I can't help the old formula from busting in and pointing a bony finger at me and yelling "Quitter! Fraud! No good hack that can't get published any other way!"
You get the point.
I have published several short stories and I did have a couple of high ranking agents take a good look at my novel. So I believe that eventually I will write a novel that gets me an agent, and that agent will find me a publisher. But should I subject myself to being a starving artist just because that's what the formula says I should do? Or should I break away, keeping my eyes on the ever changing horizon and try to mold my own destiny?
I still don't know.
True, I am very disillusioned with the publishing industry right now. It seems that if you aren't an instant success then they don't want to waste time trying to grow you into a brand. That if your first book doesn't sell 500,000 copies all you can do is change your name and try again. And why should someone (I mean the publishing industry as a whole) who is so unwilling to change and adapt be the gatekeepers to what people read. I believe the e-book revolution has put the power back into the hands of the consumer. The people, not the Big 6 houses, decide what is good and what is bad. The writer -- the one that created, labored, sweated, bled and cried -- is given a bigger cut of the cake. Maybe I'm just being one of those embittered writers that crosses his arms, screws up his face, and portions the blame out leaving none for myself. But I don't think so.
Still, I don't know. I can't get the model out of my head: Write a book, get an agent, pray for a publisher, then hope you can catch enough coin to keep the pattern going.
So, my circle of wordslingers, what do you think? If you follow Konrath's blog or read his books, leave me a comment. If you don't, click on over there, go back as far as you dare, then when you can stand no more come back and talk to me.
I really want to know.