Sometimes I’m still surprised we live in an “”us versus them” world.
Five years ago, self-publishing carried the stigma of vanity publishing. All of that began to change in the last two years with the rise of the early successful self-published authors and the smaller publishing lists from the Big 6. The publishing world began to recognize that just because a book didn’t get an offer, it didn’t mean it was a poorly written manuscript. For whatever reason, the book wasn’t a good fit for them. So with this change in attitude, self-publishing became an acceptable path to publication.
Nevertheless, some people cling to their belief that self-publishing is taking the lazy way out.
Ha. If they only knew my crazy work schedule.
I work hard at what I do. I’m an author, and I don’t need a Big 6 name inside my book to prove that. My nice royalty statements from Amazon take care of that quite nicely, thank you very much. I shouldn’t have to justify my route to publication, yet I do, not with most agents and publishing houses (shoot, big publishers are scooping the successful SP authors up and offering them mega dollar publishing deals) but with booksellers.
They see me as a threat to their world.
Anyone who claims that publishing isn’t changing has their head in the sand. But the people who recognize that their world is changing, yet refuse to change with it are just as bad, if not worse. They may not like what’s happening, but doing nothing and expecting the world to stop and fit their paradigm is insanity.
Yet I’ve experienced this mindset with two different book sellers within the last month.
When I’ve politely inquired about setting up a book signing in their stores, I’ve been insulted and talked down to.
“”Slow down and do things the right way.” meaning, go with a traditional publisher.
“We like to support local authors, but we refuse to carry or sell or promote any book published by Createspace.””
“When you publish with an acceptable publisher, come back and talk to us.”
When confronted with these attitudes, I merely wait them out (often listening to a mini-tirade regarding their ailing business) then thank them for their time and leave.
The irony is that they see me as their enemy and a threat to their livelihood, but my fifteen year old daughter, an avid and voracious reader who easily drops $30 a month or more in one the above mentioned stores, watched both of these incidents and has no desire to ever shop in either establishment again. How is that good business?
But more importantly, instead of facing reality and trying to find their way in the changing landscape, they’d rather do things “”business as usual” and complain that things aren’t like they used to be. Is this supposed to make me rethink my personal career path?
I’m not going to dispute the fact that booksellers are hurting financially, but attending my first NINC conference last month was a startling eye opener. Previously traditionally published authors who have been in the industry for five, ten, twenty years or longer, were excited about their futures. Many of them were making real money for the first time in their careers. How were they doing it?
They were self-publishing.
Some were putting up their backlists. Others put up new material, but many of them said they’d made more money self-publishing in a very short time period than they ever had traditionally.
I find that shocking.
Without authors, there’s no product to sell. Should one side forsake an income for the other?
The balance of power has shifted. Do I want booksellers to go out of business? No. But authors need to make money too. Is it crazy to think that booksellers and authors who choose to self-publish can not only coexist but help one another? I think we can, but it means that booksellers are going to have to recognize indie publishing as an acceptable alternative and figure out how to work with them. Booksellers will probably have to get creative, but it might make the difference to their survival.