I had a whole post about how to gather an audience as an indie in a time where readers are having a hard time wading through the vast avalanche of books (both Indie and traditional press). I had some scathing comments about the state of publishing and how desperation to cling to a waning market has caused big publishers to try and spread the word and convince readers that if it’s not published by a “gatekeeper” then it’s awful. I really disagree with this because I think READERS are the gatekeepers. I’ve also had the opportunity to read a lot of great Indie stuff (that’s comparable to the major publisher stuff) in the past year since I purchased my Kindle. From what I can see – it was likely rejected because it didn’t fit the cookie-cutter wants of the industry or because the industry receives more good books than it could possibly publish anyway. Not to mention they gotta get their “Snookie” and “Justin Bieber” money makers in there somewhere.
BTW -Indie – as in INDEPENDENT OF A PULBISHER (for those who think independent refers only to small presses and authors of said presses).
Among writers (who are being fed the constant “traditional published is the only way to go” hype) – self-publishing and being an indie author is not only touted as career suicide (and maybe in some cases it is), but you are considered social pariah if you defend it. It *disgusts* me that the only way some publishers and authors feel they can stay in the game is to verbally bash indies and try to move this stigma from the overall online writing community into the general reading population. Because let’s be honest – at the moment readers, who aren’t writers, could give a crap who published a book so long as it’s a good book.
Here’s the thing — Modern Demonolatry and The Complete Book of Demonolatry would have NEVER been published by a traditional press despite the fact that there was a need and want for the books. It was only after my books started selling like crazy that a traditional press had any interest whatsoever in my Demonolatry books. The lesson there being that traditional presses are businesses. Now for some Business 101 — Publishers don’t care about a writer’s “art”. They don’t care if the information is available to the reading masses or not. They care about their bottom line. They’re businesses folks! They’re not necessarily there to be gatekeepers (if that were the case Snookie’s novel would have never made it past the slush pile). They’re there to make money off of talented artists (and famous names with subjective talent) so they look for books they can sell to the widest possible audience to make the most profit. This makes perfect sense since they’re businesses.
Now I’m not saying they don’t have a right to be a business or that they’re somehow terrible for being a business. After all – all writers are selling a product, all publishers are hiring writers to create products that will hopefully sell really well, and all readers are buying products. Books are a product. What I am saying is publishers know what kinds of books sell well. There’s a formula to them. So they’re going to initially give contracts to writers who have the formula down pat already, or who are willing to work with the formula. I know this from first hand experience. With “Outer Darkness” I was told ‘they’ (I won’t disclose which publisher as a professional courtesy) would be willing to negotiate a contract for the series with me if I did a few things. 1. I needed to change the base religion of my main character from Demonolatry to something less scary. Maybe Witchcraft. Or as one agent told me “Change her alignment”. 2. They liked Alyssa, but she couldn’t be a Satanist. Oh heavens no! That was also a no-no. 3. They wanted more Hollywood stereotype kinda characters for the antagonists because that’s what the reader expects.
Look – I’m a practical woman and I’m not against editorial input. Not at all. As a matter of fact I upped the #3 factor from where it initially was. But changing the religions of my MC and her buddy Alyssa just wasn’t in the cards. I wrote the books specifically for fiction fans who DO practice alternative “darker” religions. That was kind of the point from the get go! So to compromise that was, for me, a deal breaker. That’s when I immediately took my MS off the large press submission curcuit and I approached the small press publisher who published my fantasy novels and asked if we could make a deal. If you want edgy and different — check out small presses and independently published books. That’s really my take on the matter.
I do not subscribe to the belief that traditional presses are always better. I don’t think they’re terrible, but not necessarily better. I’ve come to expect 50/50. Now granted you may have more typos in a self-published book that you do with a traditional press book (though I’ve found some doozies there, too) but I think ultimately if you read samples, reviews, and book descriptions you can keep yourself from buying a bad book to begin with (regardless who published it).
Anyway – I could blab about this for days. I’ll shut up now. End Rant.