Blog Carnival: Why I Am Indie

This post is part of a blog carnival. To find the other posts in this carnival, go here.

The topic of the blog carnival is “Why I am Indie”.

Well, I don’t have a book out there yet, but in early 2011 I will, and I’ve already chosen to go indie. I’ve discussed the basis for the decision in the first few posts of “The E-Book Experiment”. There are so many things I could talk about for this carnival, but one that keeps coming up time and again really miffs me:

β€œKeep your day job.”

Uttered by one agent and editor after another (and sometimes parroted by other writers).

I grit my teeth whenever I hear or read the above. In other career paths the idea is to work at it full time to support yourself. A person is to research the career, fully engage in education to learn it, practice and perhaps apprentice to learn job skills, and then earn a living at following that career path.

But writing isn’t included in that? Because it’s a form of art we are supposed to do it only for the love of it, and never to also support ourselves so we can do more of it? Any cut in pay or taking of rights, or extra grudge work to be done? Well, look at the writer. They don’t need the money. It’s only supposed to be for the love of it. Don’t expect anything else.

Shall we turn this around and tell the agents and editors to ‘keep their day job’, as well? That this writing biz can’t support them, either?

They would laugh in our faces.

Yet, the content producers are supposed to give up that dream of that career and only do it as a hobby that takes up all our free time. The continuing education, practice and trade groups we are apart of are nothing. Because writing isn’t a ‘real’ career.

That’s a REAL insult to the creators of the content.

That said, I won’t stop writing. I couldn’t stop if I tried. It’s too much apart of me. I love it, enjoy it, work at it, and push to become a better writer with each project.

That hard work, dedication, perseverance and continuing education deserves respect. One form of respect is the ability to support the family with the results of a writer’s chosen career: published author.

My dream is to make writing my day job. If New York’s traditional ‘deal’ doesn’t allow me to do that (Big disgusting points: That I will get dropped at the drop of a pin over decisions I had no say over while having to promo with no raise in royalty rates, oh and the pitiful royalty rates that are standard) then something is wrong with it.

The new royalty rates, keeping of rights, and accessible distribution channels out there as an indie publisher makes the choice easy. Time to cast off the lines dragging down the writers and swim towards the surface.

This writer refuses to drown and become shark bait.

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19 thoughts on “Blog Carnival: Why I Am Indie

  1. Congrats on taking your first big step as an indie publisher!

    Yes, the idea that writers aren’t supposed to write for money has long had me ticked off. I understand and can accept a certain beginning level where writers and artists shouldn’t expect to make any or much money, sort of like an internship, but that can’t and shouldn’t last forever. Eventually it’s time to start making some dough.

    And the next person who scowls or sneers at me and says “So, you’re just doing for the money,” is likely to get punched. Yeah, because it’s soooo easy to make money as a writer. If all I cared about was money, I’d be stock broker or bank president.

    • I’m very excited to be joining the Indie Publisher movement. My muse is excited, too. She’s been giving me so many ideas that I’ll be years writing them!

      Tell the sneerers that they should go to work the next day and announce to their boss that they are there to work free from now on. I bet they won’t do it. So, why should writers?

      Thanks for the comment. πŸ™‚

  2. We need to take the emotion out of the business of writing. Know the market, find your niche, and sell your products at a price the customers can afford. That is the way with any business.

    We are just lucky we have a choice that does not rely on publishing houses and we understand the myths are false.

    • Taking the emotion out of the business (emphasis BUSINESS) would be a very good step in the right direction. I have seen so many newbie writers, and even some established ones, who shout out that it’s all about getting through that magical gate guarded by the gatekeepers, and they MADE IT. But the money? Nah. They just wanted to see their name on a physical book. It didn’t matter if the contract took their rights away or how little of a pittance was thrown their way. And then the authors that came after them suffer because of it.

      There is a balance between wanting to share the ‘art’ and making a living at it all at the same time. Making money off that art is not a sin.

      Speaking of myths, have you read the “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” by Dean Wesley Smith? Great stuff on all those myths.

      Thanks for the comment! Much appreciated. πŸ™‚

  3. Hi, sorry, didn’t realise you wanted in the carnival. I’ve edited the blog to include you now.

    Yeah, it would be awesome to only have to write as a career. Maybe publishers should only work in their spare time, and do it for a love of publishing instead of for the money.

    • Sorry about that. I was looking for a place to sign up, but didn’t see it. Maybe I didn’t go back in the archives far enough. Thank you very much for going through the time and effort to add me, as well as comment here. It’s much appreciated.

  4. Best of luck with your venture into self-publishing!

    Just because it’s something we love doesn’t mean it isn’t a business. It’s ridiculous to make us feel guilty for wanting to make writing more than a hobby. The amount of time and hard work that goes into writing, editing, formatting, etc. is insane. It has value. It’s perfectly reasonable to want it to be a career.

    Sorry, it makes me mad when people act like it isn’t a real job. πŸ™‚

    • It makes me angry, as well. Which is why I chose to discuss it for this carnival, although there were many other reasons I could have chosen. Thank you for the comment. πŸ™‚

  5. It’s cool. You could have commented anywhere, but don’t worry. There will, hopefully, be another carnival sometime in November. I have no idea what the subject will be yet.

  6. Interesting thought: Why will my writing support you full time, Mr/Ms agent/editor/publisher/bookstore owner/book delivery truck driver, but not me? In fact, come to think of it, who else in publishing is told the industry will not pay them enough to live on, besides the authors?

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  8. One of the catalysts for me going indie was when i found out that most NY pubbed authors still had a day job. I thought “Screw That!” The only way I’d “work for someone” as a writer was if I was AT LEAST making a solid and stable living at it. But that’s almost unheard of in publishing, so I’ll do my own thing, thanks.

    • And Zoe has arrived! :wave:

      Ditto. If it’s truly going to be only a hobby, then I might as well go the whole way and make it a hobby. By doing it myself. If those who yell and scream that traditional is the only way are right, then I’m not going to make even part time wages anyway. If I’m going to make that little, then why put up with the aggravation of traditional? No way I look at it does it make sense. At all.

      Less aggravation, more money, more control? Yep, Indie all the way.

  9. Yes, I was rather taken aback when I first heard that most novel writers don’t make enough to support themselves solely on their fiction writing income.

    Though, I expect you *do* find something similar in other highly competitive and creative fields. Seems like there are more people wanting to be fulltime novelists, actors, photographers, visual artists, scriptwriters, etc. than there is demand for them. Publishers can afford to pay lower advances and lower royalty rates because there are always more writers.

    The writers I know of who are making a living from writing either a) have hugely successful books (think JK Rowling or Nora Roberts) or b) write prolifically in a number of genres (Lynn Viehl aka Paperback Writer) or c) supplement their fiction writing with other kinds of writing (like Holly Lisle and her writing courses). It’s not in our hands to make option a) happen, but b) and c) are doable, given a lot of determination and hard work. And a healthy dose of luck.

    I’m going to check out the other links in the carnival. Thanks for pointing them out. πŸ™‚

    • Or d) hit the publishing lottery and have the full power of the marketing force of the publisher behind them. Good luck in hitting that one.

      And one note: Publishers can afford to pay lower advances and royalty rates because too many people truly do this as a hobby and are willing to literally give away their work. In that environment it makes it hard for someone who is trying to make a living. Why should we be paid appropriately when there are so many around us who do not approach this as a business and are willing to sign any piece of paper shoved in front of them?

      The publishers haven’t had an incentive to change. I really don’t blame them for that. They are not in this for the art. Not at all. They are in it to make money and please their shareholders in the next quarter. They can do that more easily when so many writers are so bad at business. The writers are so much easier to be taken advantaged of.

      As a writer trying to make a living, this makes it all the harder to proceed in their writing career.

  10. I’ve never been under the impression that publishers care for either the authors or readers/customers (the two most vital elements in the business). Utterly shameful, lol. That’s what happens when the driving force is corporate greed, I guess.

    Kudos to you for choosing to go indie :)!

    • It’s all about money and the next quarterly financial report. Everything to keep the mother company and the shareholders happy. That is all they care about at the end. And they should. They are CORPORATIONS. It is in their literal internal law code to put this above all else. I think a lot of writers don’t understand this base philosophical difference between how they might approach this industry, and how the corporations do.

      Thanks for the comment!

  11. And one note: Publishers can afford to pay lower advances and royalty rates because too many people truly do this as a hobby and are willing to literally give away their work. In that environment it makes it hard for someone who is trying to make a living. Why should we be paid appropriately when there are so many around us who do not approach this as a business and are willing to sign any piece of paper shoved in front of them?

    As storytellers, we crave an audience. And yes, most of us (me included) *are* willing to give our words away for a pittance. I don’t think I would turn down a publication offer from a big NY publisher–even if the advance was low and the royalties pitiful–because that’s the best chance my stories have to be widely distributed. So, I’m part of the problem. *wry smile*

    I don’t think it’s viable to draw a line between the business-like writer and the hobbyist. A hobbyist has as much right to seek publication on the merits of his or her own story. Some writers have different goals for their writing (ie: not to do it as a fulltime job). Other writers may not (physically or creatively) be able to write fast enough to make a living at it. What really matters, though, is their ability to write a story readers want.

    I do think publishers are shooting themselves in the foot by always chasing the Next Big Thing, dropping their midlist writers instead of nurturing them, and spending their marketing dollars unwisely. Ditto with bookstores and their ordering to the net. (Side note: I was at a bookstore yesterday and saw the last three books of a series I used to follow. I’d have picked it up again if they had the previous books I hadn’t read, but of course they didn’t. Why would you have books 5, 6, and 7 of a series and not books 1-4? You really think new readers will start a sf&f series in the middle? In which universe does that make sense? :P). But all this is a discussion for another time. πŸ˜€

    • All of us crave an audience. I do as well. My point was that the publishers don’t have to give good terms to writers. So, for example, if I demand a say in the final title or approval on a cover, why should they agree? There are plenty of other authors they can go with that will give it up. If I want a better rate for e-rights and a certain level of marketing? Eh, why should they even listen.

      To them such things can be a make-or-break deal. Well, for me, it is too. From a business point of view. I put a lot of time and effort in this. I want an audience, but at the same time if there is money coming in then I want a decent share of it.They are in it for the profit, why shouldn’t I be?

      The nice thing with the Indie phenomenon it means I have a choice. This includes concerning the one thing the Big Publishers once held a strangle-hold over: the distribution. With the ebook market growing by leaps and bounds, it’s evened the playing field. I can get into almost all the exact same online stores as the big guys. I don’t need them to get there. No one really does. So, what else do they have? Marketing. Uh, not unless you hit the lottery. Otherwise it’s up to you for almost all of it. Brick and mortar bookstores? The two biggest bookstores are on the verge of financial ruin. Not a good thing. Meanwhile, ebooks are explodingn.

      The big guys aren’t the only the game in town anymore. That’s what I hated before, and found so depressing. If I found the terms not to my liking I didn’t have a whole bunch of other choices. I do now, though! Horrah!

      Oh, and one last point I jump up and down over. I write what *I* want, not what the editor or publishing house wants. No matter if I had to go traditional or indie, the marketing would be on me. I would much prefer to go out and find the audience for books I loved to write, rather than the stuff the big guys want written that I might not have wanted to write at all. Oh wow, the possibilities.

      All this means is that no matter what point of view a writer approaches this business, there are now choices that weren’t there before. This is a good thing no matter what side you are on. It means both you and I can proceed in a way we feel makes sense for us. In that, I think we agree, is a good thing.

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