There's a good chance this post will piss a lot of people off. See, this one is all about publishing - what it is and it isn't. It's no secret that No-Injury Policy is self-published, but trust me, there's a great deal of trepidation as I type this sentence. See, self-published works often procure the curious eye and the furrowed brow. Self-publishing is said to be for the impatient, the lazy, and the worst of writers. But ever wonder who says such things? Consider this: I, like many authors, have a dream of one day being part of either Random House or Penguin Group. That means you made it, right? If you guessed "yes", the you really need to keep on reading.
The 50-50: True and Misleading Self-Publishing Concepts
Let's jump the gun here: Traditional publishers started the whole "self-publishing is evil" thing. Now, there is an ominous aspect to self-publishing.
Unfortunately, in this little Marxist world we live in, money is absolutely everything. If you're not making money, you're either in prison or you're about to die.
Writers need to make money too, but people see writing as more of a hobby. Why do most people see writing as a hobby? It's because reading, by large, is a hobby. You do it in your downtime. You read for fun; you read for enlightenment. However, like some people read for professional reasons, some writers write to live.
It's not impossible to make a small living off of writing, and the hope is one day writers will be able to make their main income from their publications.
So naturally, the ideal situation is to have one of those fancy NY-Style publishers. They can make you tons of moolah.
But here's the 50-50:
Traditional publishers are right when they say self-publishing has ruined the publishing industry. With No-Injury Policy, I really wanted to sell the eBook for 99 cents, but I said no. It wasn't because I was greedy; it was because I needed to uphold a standard. The eBook is $4.99 on Kindle and soon to be $3.99 (or so) on the Nook. I think that's fair. But why not a buck?
The reason for charging a fair amount is to make sure people stop seeing writers as cheap labor. What we do is not easy. Sure, a lot of people write books, but not many of them stick around or go on to have multiple books.
Digression: Excluded was published by Wild Child Publishing in California. I loved working with them, but knew a short story collection wasn't "marketable". I figured I could learn the ropes of publishing by doing it all myself with the help of some editors and a cover artist. I also have many works published elsewhere. I wasn't completely new to the game. I've been writing since 2006 now, and I've maintained this site since 2009. I know I'm a youngin', but there are a lot of people with half the volume who have lost faith.
I can't say everything I've written was a success in any monetary sense. However, I can say No-Injury Policy has already exceeded my expectations, and has beaten out the sales of my other works within the first few days of being on sale.
More to the point, I'm not a writer out for fame, money, etc. However, I cannot charge 99 cents for a book. Writers need to demand some money to make sure we're relevant, to add prestige. I won't write a book for free without a great cause, and I urge other writers not to. Plus, if you knew how little money we actually make even through a traditional publisher . . . .
Now then, it's important to notice I said, ". . . ruined the publishing industry." What this means is publishers are losing money to this crazy self-published world. They're right about charging 99 cents, but they're a bit erroneous about "ruining" the publishing industry. What publishers sometimes forget is, the readers are part of that industry too.
There's a Good Reason People Don't Read as Much in 2012
The talk of a possible merger between Random House and Penguin Group is both expected and alarming. Already there's a flood of the same trash novels out there. Now, I love both of the aforementioned groups, but I think if they merge it'll set a bad example.
Let's face it, when you step into a big-chain bookstore, there's a small section of literary novels (always from the 1800-1900s), a large section of get-rich-learn-this books, a young adult section, more movies than books, more accessories than books, more tablets than books, and a giant fucking section of written-overnight romance/erotica novels.
See, traditional publishers are okay at making money. Both writers and readers are fine with the big three making money until it's too transparent. There aren't many options. If the book's "literary" and you wanna get all snobby about it, tell me where I can find your book consistently across the planet in a physical store. There's a lot of trash on the bookshelves, and people have grown tired of reading it. Make your choice: a two-hour movie of exploding shit or six hours of reading just for one psychological orgasm?
While it can be argued there's a lot of smut within the self-publishing circuit, there's also a variety. There are stories that have made it simply because it was what readers really wanted. Not just the primary buying market, but all of them. People call self-publishing niche marketing, but what about always aiming for the fans of dark erotica? I know the demographic for that, and it's a niche too. Just a really large nice . . . .
Publishing is so, so Difficult, Right?
I'll let the video serve as my thoughts about self-publishing since they're fairly similar. However, it's said an audience will find you. No, no, no. You have to do a bit of the leg work. Once the wheel is turning, then there's a better chance people will find you. But hey, Excluded is pretty popular in India (comparatively speaking), which I don't think either WCP or myself intended.
In closing, though, I think a there are many things to consider no matter how you want to publish. I'm extremely proud of No-Injury Policy. That's why I've given readers $2 off until Halloween. That's money straight out of my royalties. Amazon isn't flipping the bill on that one. That's how confident I am you'll like it. It's already been more successful than some of more traditionally published works. Will I aim for a big publisher one day? Of course.
It doesn't mean I won't self-publish again. I don't feel the need to choose when both can work out well for different works, just like you don't need to choose between print and eBook.
But it's a big dirty lie that publishers can do more than a writer. Admittedly, their books can be a little prettier. They promote better. It's also nice to let the writer write and promote, rather than establish every step of the process. But their selection is limited, the work is less than original and creative, their price is higher, and you can fail just as badly with a big publisher as you can with no publisher. Although, I really wish I had my own printing press. Then again, I can hand-bind books.
The biggest downside to self-publishing is it makes showing up in a franchise bookstore much more difficult. But that's where you can come in. You guys can either demand the book at your local retailer (via request to store), share the book info., or simply pick up a copy.
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