Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ramblings (Thinly Disguised as Writing Advice)

Self-publishing has its strong proponents, those who bemoan the traditional publishing model and, day in and day out, attempt to unmask the monster that is the Big Publisher as if some Scooby-Doo villain.  And I would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling self-pubbers and your mangy Amazon, said the caretaker of Random House, shaking his fist.

Then, there are those in the traditional publishing world who laugh the arguments off.  If, that is, they even bother with a reaction at all.  They look at self-published authors much the same way celebrity actors look at reality stars: as the sideshow freaks of the industry, hardly worth mentioning.

And finally, there is a third category, perhaps the largest group, though they don't make much noise, unlike the other two.  This group believes both models are attractive.  They say, I'm not ready to blow up every bridge to the traditional folk, but I see self-publishing as a viable alternative.  If nothing else, I have options I didn't have before.

The first group vehemently supports self-publishing because of, most often, one of four reasons.  A) They've been burned by the traditional system.  B) They are making more money self-pubbing their works than they ever did when traditionally published.  C) They couldn't find publication through the traditional model to begin with. D) They prefer having complete control over their work.

The second group--well, you probably can see where this is going--supports the traditional model for pretty much the exact opposite reasons.  A) They have flourished in the traditional system, so, B) They wouldn't belittle themselves by bottom feeding in the self-publishing cesspool, because, C) The traditional system already welcomed them with open arms, which, D) affords them little control, but, that's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, they like it.

And let's not forget our largest and quietest group--everyone else.  There is no simple way to break them down because they either haven't committed to one side or the other, or, more likely, they see both side's point of view and feel their creative output shouldn't be dictated by one approach versus another, that perhaps each piece of work is an island and should be plotted accordingly.

If you've already chosen a side, good for you.  But if you're trying to find your way, be weary of what the first two groups have to say, particularly when it comes to bashing each other.  Both offer solid arguments, but at the end of the day, what worked for them may not work for you.  Listen to what they have to say about craft, because regardless of their feelings toward how they get their work in front of readers, they are getting their work in front of readers, but mentally put yourself in the last group--let's call 'em the independents.  Keep your options open and explore all the industry has to offer.  

It's an exciting time to be a writer--everyone seems to agree on that front, at least.  Passages are opening and closing like something straight out of Hogwarts.  But here there are no wizards (though there are a bunch of abrasive people who think they are.)  You'd do best to remember that.        


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