The Indie Revolution
My wife and I married just before our junior year of college. I was a theater major, but I switched to public relations & journalism to help the prospect of my marrying her. It was too difficult to ask her hand and then tell her parents that with my degree in theater, I’d have no difficulty providing. So I switched while she remained an English Lit major.
After we graduated she wrote a novel. She did the whole submission spiel, got her rejection letters, saw interest from an agent or two and finally the whole thing fizzled. The babies had started arriving and they take up a staggering amount of a mother’s time. Self publishing was a thing at that time, but it was little more than paying for a limited print run of your book. I don’t know what you were to do from there – go from bookstore to bookstore pleading with managers to let you sign and sell, I suppose. Bookstores were still a thing back then.
Well, between now and then there was something of a Bastille Day in the publishing world. With considerably less beheadings, I understand. Upwards of 20% less in fact.
The rise of the kindle and e-books made for an environment where Amazon.com could have authors publish works directly to the site through Kindle Direct Publishing. Some authors, such as Hugh Howey, made their livings through the system while more found an outlet for their creativity and perhaps some help paying the electric bill.
Self publishing seems to me to be the better mousetrap. Joe Konrath, another indie success sums up the problems with traditional publishing that self publishing obviates:
The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.They have given us take-it-or-leave-it, one-sided, unconscionable contracts.They have failed to adequately market works they have acquired.They have artificially inflated the price of ebooks.They have refused to negotiate better ebook royalties for authors.They have forced unnecessary editing changes on authors.They have forced unnecessary title changes on authors.They have forced crappy covers on authors.They have refused to exploit rights they own.They have refused to return rights they aren’t properly exploiting.They take far too long to bring acquired works to market.They take far too long to pay writers advances and royalties.Their royalty statements are opaque, out-of-date, and inaccurate.They orphan authors.They orphan books.They refuse to treat authors as equals, let alone with a reasonable measure of fairness.They make mistakes and take no responsibility for those mistakes.For every hope they nurture, they unnecessarily neglect and destroy countless others.They have made accessories of the authors’ ostensible representative organization, the quisling Authors Guild, and are served, too, by the misleadingly named Association of Authors’ Representatives.They have failed to honor promises made.They have failed to honor their own onerous contract terms.They’ve failed the vast majority of authors, period.