Friday, June 17, 2011

Driving the Bandwagon vs. Hitching a Ride

“Hey Mister, where you headed?
Are you in a hurry?” –Green Day Hitchin’ a Ride

The thing I hated about trying to break into the world of traditional publishing was the time it took to do everything. You live and breathe on someone else’s schedule, and you wouldn’t be human if it didn’t start wearing you down.

These are troubling times in the publishing world. The lines have been firmly drawn, and each side has loudly declared the other the loser.

loserwinner

They seem to hate each other right now, but one day I think traditional publishing and self/indie publishing are going to need each other.

POPOSTEROUS you say! Well lets think about this shall we.

If sweet little Mary Sue, has her book published by Random House; how did that come about? Assuming she started her novel writing career as a nobody it likely went like this.

Mary Sue writes a book---> Revises and edits a book---> Submits a query letter an lit agent (or thirty lit agents)---> Is picked out of the slush pile.

Lets stop right there. WHY was she picked out the slush pile? Probably because of one or all of these reasons:
1.) Good story
2.) Good writing
3.) Agents personal preference
4.) The chance that it will be sold based off of Market trends as the agent interprets them.

So many decisions in the publishing world are based purely on speculation. What an agent thinks will sell to a publisher. What a publisher thinks will sell to a particular audience. So I guess the million dollar question is, do they really know?

Sort of.

Publishers aren’t really reinventing the wheel these days as far as content goes, and when they decide it’s out, it’s out.*

So what if we could take speculation out of the publishing equation?

IMPOSSIBLE! You scream.

Just shut up for a minute and let me connect some dots for you. As I am sure you have read all over the internet, amazon e-book darling Amanda Hocking scored a SWEEEEEEET traditional publishing contract earlier this year.

Do you think she followed the same formula Mary Sue did? Of course not she is Amanda Hocking! There was a HUGE bidding war, you know why? Because no one had to speculate on whether or not she would sell books. She has a ginormous fan base, of course she is going to sell books. Personally I LOVE Amanda Hocking, I love everything I have convinced myself she stands for (which is probably not at all what you think she stands for)

So what if it could always be that way? What if they always knew who would sell and who wouldn’t. The answer is, they could, they just don’t want to change their business model.

I have some vary simplistic beliefs when it comes to self or indie publishing. I believe if you were destined to be great you will be great, if you were destined for mediocrity you will be mediocre, if you were doomed to failure—which likely has more to do with your worth ethic than anything else—you will fail.

The path no longer needs to define an author. You don’t have to be driving the bandwagon, you just have to learn to be alright with hitching a ride. Sometimes it’s smarter to take the wheel and drive, and sometimes it’s smarter to fly, this is one of those few instances in life where the destination will mater more than the journey.

Where do you want to end up?

*More on this in my Vlog at the end of the month. Vampire Money Coming June 29th

4 comments :

Amanda said...

You make a compelling argument. I wish the two halves of the equation would learn to play nicely together, that's for sure.

Of course, there is still some validity to the argument that self-publishing leaves ALOT more room for the crap, and its not always easy for a reader to tell when they buy a self-published ebook if they are going to get the crap or the good stuff. The word of mouth sometimes takes a while, and in the meantime, you've just bought something (even if it was only $2.99 or $0.99) that wasn't worth the energy it took to click "buy." The one thing I can say for traditional publishing is that at least readers go in knowing that someone, ANYONE read these first and agreed with the author that its worth reading. And of course, sometimes even the trad publishers are wrong about what they think is good, and sometimes they're wrong about what they think isn't worth their time. And of course there are PLENTY of self-published works that are VERY good, but sometimes (just sometimes) its still nice to have that initial filter.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I agree that both sides of the equation are necessary and need each other. Neither one by itself would be enough.

ajkulig said...

Amanda you are absolutely right, there is so much CRAP in self publishing it makes me want vmoit onto my e-reader sometimes. YET I have never BOUGHT a bad e-book. That is because there are so many ways to get around it.

There are WHOLE CHAPTERS of my book posted on this blog (and there will be more) I am completely OK with posting a large chunk of my book to convince people to buy it. I am sharing so much content, but usually you can tell whether or not someone shoudl quit their day job by the first page (paragraph- sentence sometimes)

As for word of mouth, YES it is the best advertising and YES it takes a while. BUT does it take as long as finding and agent, selling to a publisher, AND getting a line number? I know debute authors who have thie first book coming out in 2013. Word of mouth will never be so slow.

Patricia Lynne said...

I think both sides needs to accept each other. In my opinion, neither one is going anywhere and that's great! Choices help spurn sales and competition. Sure some people may think they can just hit click and their self published POS will be a best seller but the reality is with all the competition, if you want to get noticed you have to make sure your story shines like gold!

Also, both are needed because both are wanted. Some people are more comfortable going the traditional route, they know they don't want to deal with everything the agent and publisher deal with and are fine letting others take the wheel. Then there are people who are all about doing it themselves. Self publishing is great for them because it gives them the control they need.

Instead of picking one side, why not just pick the best option for yourself. In the end, both have to cross their fingers and hope to hit the bullseye.

ajkulig said...

Sometimes it's not a choice though, no agent wanted to represent Amanda Hocking's MY BLOOD APPROVES because they were over vapires. It didn't matter that people wanted to read about Vampires. (More on that later)

I agree about no picking sides, I hope I get to play for the other team some day!