To a large degree, it is the change in book distribution that is driving me forward at a rapid pace. Now the question is no longer, “Can I get published?” The question is “Can I develop a readership?” And that is a very different question because it puts the power squarely in my hands. Whether or not I can develop a large readership remains to be seen, but whether or not I can develop one at all will evolve solely from my efforts. It’s a little scary, but a lot empowering. I feel like an author entrepreneur!
What I think is absolutely fascinating (and cool) is that there are two sides to this empowerment. On one side is the writer, folks like me. On the other is the reader. I think this whole sea change to epublishing and Indie authors is an absolute windfall for readers. I recently read a great article by Kristine Rusch, which nicely captures the Changing Playing Field.
Because this article has some of the best in-depth analysis I’ve seen (in one place) of the industry and makes a useful analogy to TV, I actually sent it to my mother to help explain what I am doing. I thought that it would give her a better insight into where I am headed, why, and its feasibility. Although I did decide months ago that I was going to epublish and not worry at all about traditional publishing.
The funny thing was that before I decided, as I was doing research on the changing market, I still had to convince myself that it was OK to epublish. Interestingly, part of what helped me to see the light (because my grad school background had indoctrinated me to believe that an Indie doing only epublishing sounded like a hack) was that one day I looked around and realized that I was consuming my books in about equal quantities paper, audio, and electronic. It just stopped making sense that I wouldn’t be open to publishing in different formats since I was consuming in different formats. Along the way, I stumbled on John Scalzi’s (who is both a very popular author I like and a very popular blogger) State of the Game article, which I think makes the point that even for established authors the distribution mix is changing.
One other thing that I’ve realized along the way is that one of the reasons that independent or self-published authors were sometimes viewed as hacks is because they didn’t approach their work with professionalism. As for me, I can simply choose to be professional. In fact, I have had two different drafts go through feedback sessions, received feedback from 15-20 people, I am continuing to incorporate suggestions, and I’m going to have my book professionally edited and a professional cover done. Frankly, it is a second job right now and I am very committed to it. That to me is professional.