The debate between indie and traditional (trad) publishing has heated recently and it’s created a lot of animosity that I just don’t understand. I feel like a divide has been growing – Team Indie vs. Team Trad. And before I delve into this, I feel the need to say that just because I’m happy to be Indie and I do things like Indie Authors Relief Fund, doesn’t mean that I’m all “GO TEAM INDIE!” That I think every writer should be indie and you’re stupid for not doing it my way.
I do support my fellow indies. I think it’s a brave, progressive and sometimes lonely route to publication. So I cheer on those of us who do it.
But I don’t think it’s the only way. Just as I obviously don’t think trad is the only way. The world has given us many opportunities and paths to take to get our books into readers’ hands. And that’s the goal for all of us, right?
With success stories of indie authors such as Amanda Hocking, unpublished writers recently seem to feel the need to justify why they don’t want to go indie. Very opposite what it was like when I decided over a year ago – when writers who did go indie were the ones feeling the need to justify. People on both paths can become quite defensive in justifying their reasons.
Both roads are full of pot holes and detours that are frustrating, but the writer has good reasons for fighting their way through. Unfortunately, sometimes their points are made by emphasizing how much worse that other road is. Which only sparks angry retorts by some who chose that other road because they feel the need to defend themselves. Both sides feel like they’re being personally attacked. Thus, we have this great divide.
Then there are those who decide to publish a book independently because, for whatever reason the universe had at the time, it didn’t sell traditionally, and the author feels like they gave up…or gave in. That by going indie, even if just with one book, means they’re admitting failure. Or, at least, defeat. I’ve had these same feelings on occasion. But why should we feel down?
A trad book sale requires so many things to come together perfectly that the odds just aren’t in the writer’s favor. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, bad writing or a bad author. And it doesn’t mean that readers don’t want to read it. So what is wrong with getting that book out there for readers to enjoy? It’s better than a good story sitting in the dark corners of a hard drive.
We’re at an exciting point in time where writers are empowered to choose. And choosing one way doesn’t mean we can’t ever go the other way. Several long-time authors who have been trad published for years, even decades, are going indie. And more and more indie authors are getting trad contracts. The breaking news this week is that Amanda Hocking has a reported $2 million deal with St. Martin’s Press. Nice job, Amanda!
She discusses here a little about why she would even consider going trad when she’s doing so well as an indie. She has excellent reasons. Her story – as well as some of her points in that blog post – support what I said back in July in a guest post here. That writers now have the opportunity to reach readers directly and build a fan-base…and that trad publishers will eventually take notice.
In fact, Amanda may be the case-in-point (or at least the poster girl that she didn’t set out to be but nevertheless is) that this route just may be the best for everyone in the industry: writers indie-publish and start a following and then publishers can grow that fan-base exponentially. Readers get to be the gatekeepers – the ones who decide which books and authors they want to read. Which is really a great thing for everyone.
But what I like most about Amanda’s post is her point that we shouldn’t be taking sides. That we should all be TEAM WRITER. Because we’re all reaching for the same goal – to see our books being read. The journey to achieve that goal is different for everyone and we shouldn’t be criticizing others for the routes they take. We should be supporting them, cheering them on, helping each other along the way. Because each new path forged is one more way for others to follow. Another choice. Another way to empower the writer.
It’s time to stop criticizing each other and ourselves for whichever path we take. It’s time to embrace the amazing possibilities before us. It’s time to stop throwing rocks and insults at the person on that parallel road to publication and start throwing chocolate and woo-hoo’s at them. We’re all on the same team!