The Map And The Journey

A post of Kris Rusch’s this week, about the near-religious acrimony between partisans of traditional and indie publishing made me think about my own goals.

The fighting has been terrible and just like reactions to 9/11 put pay to what remained of my writers’ group, splintering it to the four winds, this argument over whether to go indie or traditional seems to be bringing an element of insanity into a career that was at no time sane and destroying long term networks and associations.

I’ve been – on this very blog, or at least a blog linked to it – derided as “self-publishing” (implied “trash”) even though so far the only self-publishing I’ve done is of short stories that were (for the most part there’s three notable exceptions, which DO sell very well) published in traditional press.  The indie people, oddly, have never derided me, except for sometimes asking me when I’m taking “the full plunge.”

I’ve also found myself very exasperated with a beginner writer who is not making inroads in traditional, but who refuses to go indie because “it’s not real.”

The reason for all of it, including my rides-two-horses position became clear to me in reading Kris’ post.

It’s all a matter of goals.  When we start a writing career we all have a goal in mind.  Yes, the goal is usually “I’m going to be richer than J. K. Rowling” but, pardon me, that’s not a goal, it’s a daydream.  Beneath it, hidden, there is usually a true goal.

Let’s assume we’re all compelled to tell stories, or at least we all enjoy that.  Let’s also establish that no one can predict how publishing will change in the course of their career.

It’s like writing a novel.  I know few writers who are such exact plotters that their work never surprises them: no minor character steps out of the woodwork to steal a scene; no lover reveals himself/herself as a shrewd negotiator; no planned villain redeems himself.  Yet, I also know no authors who start a novel with no idea of how it ends.  You might not know who commits the murder, but you know the detective survives or not. You might not know which of two the girl will choose, but you know she’ll choose one and settle down to write the next generation of your saga.

In the same way, you might not know if you’re going to ever make it to a bestseller list; or make enough money to live from; you might not know if you’ll ever be published on paper; you might have no idea whether you’ll end up hitting in romance or in mystery, but you know there is an underlying reason you want to do this, and a goal you’d like to attain.  And your goal, whether you’re aware of it or not, shapes your decisions along the way.

As in a novel, I urge you to be aware of your goal, so you can make those decisions consciously, instead of by chance and guess.  As in a novel, knowing where you’re aiming makes it more likely you’ll get there.  Particularly since real life is notoriously resistant to editing or going back and foreshadowing.

All writers I know have one of two PRIMARY goals (the slant on these goals, and the minute variations of sub-goals are something else again.)

Writers write either to be read by the most people possible, or for prestige.  (The immediately next subgoal is usually “to make money” – but that is usually seen as a sign of either a wide and appreciative audience or vast prestige.)

The degree of “being read” or “being admired” to which we aspire varies.  I know people who are glad to be read in a fan fiction group.

I don’t know if people who want fame would be happy being famous in their state or in their genre.  I think it depends on each person.

Myself, in case it’s not obvious, I was never in it for the fame.  What I always wanted to do was tell stories.  Of course, note that telling stories requires an audience, and on that for many years was a rub.  I put a lot of ideas aside because I thought they’d never find an audience.  Now I wish I’d finished them, because I’d have them ready to go up.  No matter.  They’ll be finished by the by.

The extent to which I’ve acquired fame is amusing because being recognized by a cashier in a store or the guy who came to repair my washer is still rare enough to be fun.

I don’t know how I’d feel if I ever – not that it’s likely – acquired the sort of fame J. K. Rowling has.  Being mentioned by total strangers routinely would probably drive me to hiding under the bed and never getting out.

It’s not that I’m shy.  I’m private.  Even in this blog, there are things I hold back very strongly, some of them important, some of them frankly trivial.  The important ones usually relate to what is going on with people close to me that might be affecting me, but is not anyone’s business.  And the trivial ones include stuff like “I’m going to be out of town this weekend” which, on the practical side, is my way of avoiding getting the house burgled, and on the other side, since my haunts are relatively well known, is a way of avoiding having fans show up just as the family and I sit down for dinner at Pete’s in Denver.  (Where they tell me people have occasionally asked for me – or told me, back when we went there more often and one of the waitresses knew us.)

I’m comfortable with certain degrees of being known, because at least in the old model of publishing it was impossible to be making a living at this and not be relatively well known.  I can even enjoy cons – more so as I’ve become friendly with some of the fans.

BUT ultimately my goal is to be read and to make money, not to be recognized on the street or have people talk about the genius of Sarah A. Hoyt.

Ultimately, I’m in this to tell stories to people, not for the prestige.

A lot of people are in this for the prestige, with the telling stories and the money secondary.  This is not a judgement.  I think it’s a personality thing.

So if you’re starting out as a writer, or even if you’re a veteran, and you’re buffeted here and there by “indie or traditional” ask yourself what you want from this game.

Is it prestige?  Nothing wrong if it is.  Some people believe that to be recognized as best by those “in the know” is the reward to be coveted.  Fine.

In THAT case the prestige is still on the side of traditional publishing, though unless you’re one of the very precious few then you’ll have to do a lot of publicity.  Count that in on your plan.  Find an angle on which you can sell yourself, then push there.

On the other hand if your goal is to get your work read by as many people as possible and, preferably, paid so you can write more stuff for people to read, your path is not so clear.

If you’re not published – given how hard it is to break in now – by all means, go ahead and bring your stuff out indie.  You probably stand a better chance at a contract offer if you do well indie.

If you are published and have a good relationship with a house or two that don’t give you contracts that are too awful – or at least so awful you can’t live with the consequences – the route is more complex.  With each book it becomes an evaluation: do I think this book will reach more of its audience through me or through one of these houses?

In the end it’s case by case, and sometimes it might be “a feeling.”  For instance, for most of my science fiction I’ll go with Baen without hesitation, whether the book is written on spec or not.  It costs me money – probably – in the long run, because I get a MUCH smaller percentage than my indie efforts, and the electronic books aren’t available on Amazon.  On the other hand, I’ll be out in stores, Baen has a large fandom for its science fiction, and I’m likely to sell more books which compensate for the smaller percentage.  The fact that I get money up front doesn’t hurt, either.

However, there’s books that just aren’t Baen stuff.  (Coff, Witchfinder.) Or, for some of the books I have planned, they’re of a length Baen wouldn’t touch – around 60k words, the size of a golden age novel.

Also for most of my mystery and even the vast majority of my fantasy, I don’t think I can do better for it traditional.  Part of this has to do with not wanting to sign contracts that put my ability to write other books – ever – in strangers’ hands.  A lot of it has to do with my reluctance to sign any contracts at all right now.  I agree with Dean Smith that ultimately we’ll go to a contracting model where books – like short stories now – get their copyright leased for a finite amount of time: five or ten years being the ones proposed.  (Short stories usually are only exclusive for one year.)  As such, and because I expect that model will become dominant in the next five years or so, I’m hesitant to sign any contracts at all.  I make an exception for Baen because Baen is family, but everyone else I’d rather not deal with just now.

So, since I will still write mystery and odd fantasy, and I still want it in front of readers, those will go indie from the beginning.  Same, frankly, for most of my short stories.  I can spend months sending them to magazines, then wait a year for them to see the light of day, or I can finish them, have them edited, put them up and – by the time they’d have been published – I’ll have made what I could get for them.  The exceptions, of course, are “by invite” short stories.

Anyway, because my goal is “how do I get this novel to its fans” I don’t know that I’ll ever go fully indie or fully traditional.  It’s possible, but not likely.  Each novel is on a case by case basis, what I judge will get it read by more people and get me more money (the second being the sincerest form of appreciation.)

Do I grudge those people who are trying to do primarily indie or primarily traditional?  No.  Their goal is their goal, and how they achieve it is their decision.

So, my advice to everyone is, stop fighting and establish your map.  And then take your way, merrily, no matter how it twists and turns.  And stop trying to force your friend to take your way when his goal is different.  Send him fond letters along the way, and stand ready to help him should his goal change.  Other than that, mind your own business and blaze your own trail.

76 responses to “The Map And The Journey

  1. ppaulshoward

    Very Good Sarah.

  2. Back in my insufficiently misbegotten youth, when dinosaurs traversed the Earth, I spent two years eschewing meat. The relevancy of this is the curious way I found people responded to what was an entirely personal choice, and how I in turn responded to their response.

    A surprising number of folk took my decision to not eat meat as a challenge, or seemed to, demanding of me explanation and justification of the choice. I found myself cobbling arguments (I am rather good at that) in response. Yet the critical point escaped me for almost two years: What business was it of theirs whether or not I ate meat??

    So it seems with publishing: if a particular model works or fails to work for you, or if some blend of the two suffices, this is in no way a reflection on you, on others, on the quality of anybody’s works and should not be taken as a challenge to the deeply held philosophies of anybody.

    As if that will settle the arguments.

    • Sorry, but I must judge you! Your choice to not eat meat affected me greatly, because it hurts my self esteem to know that everyone is not doing the same thing I would do. Since I am incapable of making a wrong decision, it must be YOU who is wrong, and so I will shout that to the moon until you cower beneath the weight of my taunts.

      I love animals – they’re delicious, and only weirdos thinks otherwise. You should consider yourswelf lucky we didn’t drag you into the town square and force a medium rare steak down your throat, topped off with a hearty helping of duck fat!

      (Here’s hoping that the over the top nature communicated the sarcasm above, but you never know with the written word sometimes. :-D )

      • But if one is a carnivore, that’s silly to be annoyed by people not eating meat — all the more meat for the carnivores!

        • “I love animals – they’re delicious, and only weirdos thinks otherwise.”

          While I agree wholeheartedly with RD on this sentiment, I also agree with you Beth, it’s silly to by annoyed by people not eating meat (although not at all silly to be annoyed by those non-meat eaters that think they need to forcefully convert you to vegetarianism also).

          I also realize there are people like CACS that for medical reasons (much like lactose intolerance) are incapable of eating meat, those people I truly feel sorry for.

          • Thank you. I have never found an acceptable substitute for meat (for example) in Vindaloo or a good country ham. So, I too am sorry. :-(

            • CACS have you tried gluten? We used to use it for a meat substitute. If you have wheat allergies, it wouldn’t be good though. And, it takes spices really well.

              • For a number of applications seiten, etc work very well. But I grew up with a taste for things like true long cure and smoked Smithfield hams, which not only have a particular flavor, but a texture that substitutes simply can’t replicate.

                • That would be a problem CACS – I sympathize… one of the problems of eating Vegan was I missed those textures. With my kidney problems, I have to eat less meat, but I still get to eat it. When I was in the hospital I used to dream of steaks… huge steaks… arg

                  • When the dreams of a succulent properly cooked steak or chop haunt is when I remind myself of all the dry poultry, ‘shoe leather’ and gristly meat, etc., that has been presented to me, and be glad that, at least, this is not something I shall have to negotiate again.

                    • Good idea ;-) – hope you find something that is succulent in its vegetarian incarnation.

                    • See, my issue is missing potatoes. Carbs — ALL CARBS — kick up my eczema, and I hate to have it all over my body, so I’m down very low and saving those carbs for the occasional strawberry or quarter peach. My problem is I miss fries. I can make ersatz, almost passable mash potatoes from celery root — but fries! And popcorn. So what I do is like CACS — I remind myself of all the horrid, stewed, flavorless fries…

                    • All types of potatoes are my downfall too. Have you tried mashed turnips? I have heard that you can make them to taste as good as potatoes. If there is still a carb problem? I don’t know… Geez that has got to be h*ll.

                    • Root vegetables are all inclined towards carbs. Potatoes are second only to parsnips. Turnips are better:
                      1 cup boiled and mashed (230 grams) – 7 grams carb, 5 grams fiber (According to Carbohydrate Counts of Root Vegetables – Carb Counts of Potatoes Carrots Turnips Etc.- http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/rootvegetables.htm)

                      I have heard that mashed Cauliflower can be very good and it, like broccoli is very low on the carb count. We have yet to try it, The Spouse generally prefers his broccoli and cauliflower raw, stir fried, or prepared in an Italian or Indian manner. His mother, who cannot eat white potatoes without aggravating her arthritis, loves mashed Cauliflower.

                    • cawliflower DOES work well. I use extra butter.

                • Which reminds me that I still haven’t gotten around to building a smokehouse. How does gluten take smoke?

        • so true Beth – I only get mad at Vegans if they sniff my breath and then make a nasty remark. :-)

    • Well, it’s obviously long over now, so it would be hard to say for sure, but it’s possible that your tormentors were affected by evangelical vegetarians telling everyone how horrible it was to kill and eat those tasty, tasty er, I mean, innocent and helpless, animals, and how EVERYONE should become a vegetarian, it was so much healthier and all.

      On the other hand, they could have just been big jerks who needed to shut up and leave you alone.

      • Part of the dynamic was that as people would demand I justify my choice I would contrive arguments (being too young at that point to realize that the appropriate response to such interrogation is a two word phrase beginning with F and ending in U.)

        Had I remained vegetarian the constant challenging of my diet likely would have produced in me an evangelical fervor, a preemptive defense of something which needed no defending. Just so, as “published” authors challenge Indies the dynamic creates aggressively held positions which don’t really need defending. The choice of how to publish — Trad or Indy — should be viewed as merely a reflection of the particular author’s goals and strategies for a particular product, no more significant than the decision to render a story as a novel or (series of) short story(s).

        But, of course, people like to form their dumb*ss tribes and make fun of the other tribes.

  3. Yaknow, self-publishing vs traditional-publishing should be a simple matter of economics. No aspersions on character should attend either the red pill or the blue pill. Yet there are. And there are passions, strong passions. This seems non-rational, so there must be some very strong sociological and/or economic reasons behind all the sturm und drang. Reasons I’d like to see some light cast upon.

    • Steve,
      I wonder how much of this is the subsumed — because it had to be — anger of writers at publishers and our situation the last few years now turning onto inappropriate targets and exploding in fraticidal wars. Kind of like when an evil empire breaks down and the pieces that constituted it turn on each other, instead.

      • I’ve been seeing similar things in the ivory tower for a few years. The adjuncts snarl on the internet or behind their hands at the tenured, those with tenure blame the un-tenured, the administrators and the trustees (or reagents), the administrators complain about the stubborn faculty, and the IT folks stick pins into voodoo dolls and curse everyone. And most of them seem to be ignoring the vandals and fanatics busily throwing the books out of the windows.

  4. Hey, I was the poor slob out behind the garage all night skinning that &%&*^%&*%(&* Mastodon. I didn’t even get TO the door, much less inside. Cacs at least saved me a plate. I know I’m going to get very, very tired of Mastodon stew every day for the next nine months.

    I have a very selfish reason for picking indie over traditional. Traditional is a royal pain! There are queries and rejections, the necessity of edits that sometimes don’t make sense, the necessity of getting an agent (for most houses, this is an ironclad rule), and all the rest. My body aggravates me enough — I don’t need the aggravation of dealing with a bunch of other people’s problems.

    Going indie is almost as simple as writing the book, editing it, and publishing it. Advertising is a problem, but even with the very POOR advertising I’ve done, I’ve acquired a small audience, and it’s growing. I’m also “pulling a Sarah”, and publishing my latest book on my website, a chapter at a time as I edit them. The book is done. There are 16 chapters. Mine are a bit longer than Sarah’s, with a few of them 8000 words or so. Sarah’s are a pleasant, quick read, and a nice break from my writing. Her weblog here is a major distraction I have to fight myself away from!

    • Thank you for your efforts, there was no way Cyn and I could have skinned and butchered the whole thing in a timely manner. I do carry a bottle of tabasco with me at all times, if that would help. :-)

    • I have to admit, a huge attraction of self-pubbing is that I wouldn’t have to write a @#$% query letter or a synopsis (okay, I’d have to do a blurb, but I’d probably have to do that anyway).

  5. Martin L. Shoemaker

    Steve, I’m starting to think it’s no more rational than Mac vs. PC. Some people have rational reasons for buying a Mac. Some people have rational reasons for buying a PC. But some people consider their choices to be symbolic of their identities; and so disagreeing with their choices is seen as a personal attack.

    And when not taken to a defensive, irrational extreme, I even agree with this. My choices and preferences ARE (a part of) my identity. I choose to write. I like science fiction. I love Persian food. I enjoy programming. I choose to buy PCs because I prefer devices I can program, and I don’t know Mac programming. I like 80s rock, but prefer classical music when I exercise. These are all facets of the totality that is my identity. When someone tells me they can’t stand science fiction, my only reaction is, “Oh, OK, what do you like instead? Maybe there’s a different movie we can enjoy together.” But for some people, a statement like that is cause to get defensive; or worse, cause to get OFfensive, to somehow prove their preference is “right”.

    And as Sarah has pointed out in other posts and other contexts, there’s a strong element of tribalism as well. “It’s not just my identity, it’s my tribe’s identity! You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!” And since tribe formation is a lot easier with the aid of the Internet, tribal clashes are more prevalent and louder these days — or at least the verbal clashes are.

    • Ten years ago, MAC vs PC made sense, in a way. Since all Macs use SCSI, the data transfer is MUCH faster. Macs used to handle graphics much better than PCs. On the other hand, there was much more software available for PCs, and it was usually cheaper. Things have evened out more over the last ten years. Macs are still the computer of choice for Liberal Arts majors (including school teachers), while PCs are still the computer of choice for most scientific and engineering students. Again, it’s basically the cost and availability of software that guides the purchase.

      • Logical, use the tool that best suits your purpose.

      • We couldn’t afford Macs when I started out. So, PC. Now Macs still seem way overpriced to me. Also, I prefer words to visual. My PC is too mac-ified for my tastes now. BUT again, whatever people want to use.

      • Also, years ago, before hard drives were even a part of the normal computer, Apple cornered the market for computers through the public schools (at least in my part of the country). Since all the schools all had Apple, it only makes sense when you upgrade to upgrade to something that as much as possible of the software and hardware from your old system is compatible with, so ergo we have Macs in schools.

        Now that I think about what I just said, public schools so seldom make rational decisions that it is amazing that they do have Macs instead of PC’s.

        On the other hand PC’s were compatible with much more stuff, so they were logical for many home computers. Personally, my aunt’s husband worked for Microsoft, and my first computer was bought from her when she upgraded. So I have always had PC’s.

  6. Someone once used the term “closet exhibitionist” to explain writers.

    • Synova, not related, but I WILL send you the posters — I literally haven’t been out of the house since, because we’ve been getting sick in tandem and serially, and I have to deal with all of it. I’m done now and ready to be okay!

      • I hope that everyone will be right as rain very soon. Certainly don’t let me add any stress to recovery. Be well.

  7. It was the consensus of the various indy writers in the IAG – some of whom had been doing it for decades — that readers usually didn’t give a rodent’s patootie about who your publisher is, if they liked the book itself. Which assumes, of course, that your book was indistinguishable from or better than a trad-pubbed book.

  8. I used to think that having goals would make being a writer “OK” by society’s standards. So I made goals. One was to get published by a traditional publisher (check). One was to make some money doing this (check). And one was to be able to cope with the amount of background noise in my brain through writing (check-ish).

    As I’ve gotten older (hey, I’m getting older! Only a few more years til I call myself “middle aged”!), my goals have changed. It had become less of a “get published” mentality and more of a “get these fracking people out of my head!” attitude towards my writing career.

    You laugh. You scoff. But I’m dead serious.

    My goal now is to just stay sane and don’t let the changing publishing landscape scare me off. This is harder than it sounds because I am a creature of severe habit. If one thing gets changed, it can literally throw me off for weeks (which is why being a baker for the money (it pays better than writing) is both good and bad… good because I do the same thing over and over with the same product, bad because I have to constantly adjust my timeline throughout the bake) and I never seem to recover from the change. Call me crazy, but I like some of the features that are going the way of the dodo.

    -Acceptance letters. I do love me some acceptance letters. Makes me feel all vindicated and stuff.

    -Books. I love when my publisher sends me a bunch of free copies of my books to send/sell/whatever I want with them. There’s nothing like knowing a tree died for your cause.

    …and that’s about it. Man, traditional publishing sucks. I need to go the indie route.

    I’m rambling again. Sarah, you need to let me know when I’m babbling and make it stop.

    • good because I do the same thing over and over with the same product, bad because I have to constantly adjust my timeline throughout the bake

      Ah, because baking is not simple chemistry, weather effects the process. This is particularly when you are working with yeast/sourdough which are living organisms. For nine months I cooked Sunday supper at the boarding school I attended. One of the best parts of the job, once I became comfortable with the process, was the bread baking.

      • I find kneading is good stress relief. Something about pounding away, whaping dough back and forth for ten minutes, and then getting to eat the results (assuming I remembered to set the timer this time.)

        • Try hand kneading bread for about 100 hungry diners, most of whom are teens. No tension left after that. Also, do you know how powerful an adolescent girl becomes when she has the keys to the kitchen? (I would also bake cookies every night to be delivered to the dorms just before curfew, it massively cut down on tardiness.)

  9. Sarah -
    If my friend who is writing for Harlequin asks me how to get into indie – I’ll be more than happy to help, but at this time she is living her dream (getting published traditionally and making a small amount of cash). She has a great start at an audience.

    For me the whole thing was entirely different. I became really ill before I started breaking out. Then when I started to get my brain back, I had to learn to write all over again – or at least practice. When I tried to get an agent and/or published traditionally I was getting a lot of flack. You know the usual. I have only a few years to write. At the time I started writing online and then eventually indie, I was pretty sure that I would only last another ten years. I am reaching ten years in January so Woot. I might make it another ten.

    Anyway, I didn’t have the time or patience to deal with the traditional publishers. I have a very very small audience or at least a couple of people who contact me. My goals are to get the stuff out and (the voices ouch), and then I would like to be able to support myself with my writings since I cannot work a regular job.

    I don’t have time to be pissy with other writers. I find the whole thing ridiculous. Just another way to get writers to fight the publishers’ wars against writers.

    Cyn

    • Thirty. You’ll make any another thirty. I might need help with mastodon roasts, who knows.

      And who the heck wants to spend time having wars with other writers?

      • TY Sarah – I want to be able to gum the roasts ;-) Although my great-granny lived to 98. I knew her. She was a riot. And if I want to have a war with a writer, I’ll use a flamethrower thank you. *waggle eyebrows (and not a pen)

        • For the elderly whose teeth are giving out what to do? Well you have soup and broth. This is where you start making various minced meat applications. I wonder how mastadon mince would can?

          Sarah certainly is seeing that we have our work cut out for us, no? ;-)

  10. I think most people on both sides of the argument are talking past each other. The usual response by an advocate of traditional publishing to someone who goes indie is usually a sneer of derision, followed by a “don’t touch me or you’ll taint me” attitude. An indie publishing advocate usually talks about the traditional route being a feudal system set up by the Lords of Publishing who oppress the masses.

    However, I see the debate changing in the years to come, although I believe the tone will worsen. As indie publishing grabs a larger share of the market, followers of traditional will get threatened and do what they can to block that path to success. At the same time, those who find success in indie are likely to flip the bird to those on the other side as a giant “HA HA, now WE have the power!” I’m not sure either side will ever give the other a full hearing.

    I plan a post on this for my own blog soon, as the “traditional versus indie” conflict has raged inside me a lot recently.

  11. I do confess that I think this is a false dichotomy. Why not pursue both publishing strategies?

    • A fair number of them do – or so I have been told; writers who move from indy to trad, and from trad to back again.
      I just wish that some of the indy-to-trad writers would at least have the courage of their convictions. I got a series of frantic emails once, from one of the IAG members, after a long period of not seeing her in the discussion group. Her horror-suspense book was on the IAG Books and Members website; she wanted me to pull it AT ONCE from the website! She had just gotten an agent, and a contract from a ‘real’ publisher, and all sorts of people were interested, and she wanted nothing to connect her to ever having been anything as outre as an indy author.

    • This is what I feel — depending on the property I’ll go one way or another. BUT most people seem to think this is somehow wrong.

  12. I’d like to see numbers. I’d suspect that there are more books added to B&N and Amazon in a day than traditional publishers will put out in six months. True, maybe only one in 50 of the books on Amazon would be worth reading. Right now, I find that about half the books just in science fiction published by traditional publishers turn me off in the first ten pages. It may take longer to go through the online “slush pile” to find something decent to read, but there’s no difference between that and scanning fifty titles at the local bookstore, just to end up walking away disappointed. The price of indie books is also more convenient to my wallet than the ever-increasing price of hardcover and paperbacks at the bookstore. I still like a printed book now and then, but heck, I write on a computer, what’s different about reading on one? (Otherwise, I wouldn’t be spending my time here, instead of on a new book … 8^))

    • 1 in 50 is worth reading, what’s different about that than traditional publishing? If I find 1 in 50 trad pubbed books worth reading I consider it a good day.

    • Yes – it took me a long time to selected the six books I allowed myself to by in a bookstore for my two weeks (the rest of the time I used the library). Even then about half of the books I picked I had to make myself read all the way through because I paid for them. It would have been a waste of money. (ARG garbage on the brain).

  13. Too much Common Sense and Good Will around here. How are people to keep up a perfectly good flame war with this sort of attitude hanging about?

    Personally, I’d love to be traditionally published. But I started late, and am too old to wait around any longer for the Big Six to recognize my brilliance. (Can’t think what the hang up could possibly be . . . ;))

    So I’m crashing about learning indie by doing, and slowly building up the e-bookshelf. It’s fun, even if I haven’t reached the “Can reliably pay the electric bill” on my own income.

    • Wait until you try out for a car loan … the funny thing is – that while I am doing perfectly well at my various freelance jobs, (and I have been able to pay off some long-time outstanding debts!) they are in no way regular and predictable! Something always turns up, usually out of the blue, and just enough to banish the wolf from the doorstep and all the way down to the end of the block. I can never predict it … but something always shows up.

      • I am the most fortunate of women, having a most excellent husband. (OK, OK, don’t hit me Sarah! You are _also_ the most fortunate etc:)) Baring the ups and downs of the oil biz, we keep ourselves in wheels of minimal decrepitude.

        • It has been my observation that having an excellent spouse is less a matter of fortune and more a matter of proper care and feeding.

          • I have a most excellent hubby too – He kept me alive and breathing the first two years of my illness. I can never repay him enough.

  14. To some extent the whole thing reminds me of the contretemps over gay marriage: how does someone else’s choice threaten you… exactly? But, then again, there may be something to it. I dunno. I just don’t see any point in fighting over it. Waste of energy. And, hey! Some of my best friends are trad-pubbed writers. BNA’s, even. Why should I begrudge them success?

    M

    • I’d be perfectly fine if my sister dated a traditionally published author!

      Seriously, yeah. Maybe it’s the libertarian coming through, but other than people who whine to me they can’t get published BUT don’t even consider indie… meh. I have books to write.

    • I was going to say it is different than gay marriage, because a lot of the problem with the gay marriage debate, is people not wanting the government to tell them (generally in the religous sense) what they can and can’t do; and forcing them to not only accept but participate in something that is against their beliefs. But then I realized that if you leave the religious aspects out that is a pretty fair description of the indie vs. trad arguements.

  15. I suspect this is the insecurity-based “It works this way for me” or “I believe this” translating to “Anything that is not what works for me is wrong”/”anything that is not what I believe is wrong”.

    Pity them, for they know not how easily they can topple into the pit of despair.

  16. Well said.

    From your talk of Baen alone, they’re one of the only two publishing houses I’d consider if they made me an offer (in this hypothetical future where I was propositioned by traditional publishing – lol). That doesn’t mean I’m “against” traditional publishing, just that I’m very wary of them right now and I would rather work with people who people I find sensible like working with. (Not that I’d trust their experiences blindly – but it’s a whole lot easier to entertain an idea that sensible people have in some way vetted than to go into it entirely blind to how a particular company works.)

    But, yeah. I think my goals are very close to yours. I like to tell stories. I’d like for people to read my stories and visit these worlds that are in my head. I want to bring people to these places and show them the neat things that exist there. It’s the same sort of urge that makes me want to watch things I like with people I like or urge people to read books I like. And, of course, I need to earn enough money at it that I can continue to do it. Especially if I can earn enough at it that I can afford to continue to travel – which helps inspire and educate and expose me to other things that can only improve what I write. I don’t need the “fame” or “respectability” or what-have-you. So it was easier for me to look at indie publishing and go, “Yes. This is likely to get me to where I want to be. At the very least, now it won’t keep me from getting where I want to be, if I decide I do want to do traditional too.” A few years ago, going indie would have severely limited my options. Now I know that it might actually open doors.

    Sorry – rambling incoherently. I may need to go to bed very early tonight.

  17. I know it took me about a year to seriously consider indie, though I saw the advantages of it right off. But I’d made my plans according to the old model, because that was the only model I had, and set my goals and expectations accordingly. But the more and more I find out about indie, the more I’ve been re-examining my goals (not having to do social media and such marketing may have been what pushed me over).

    But I’m not invested in traditional publishing. I’m not making my living from it and never expected to. I’m not dependent on it (and the idea of never having to be is very compelling). I think what’s really behind a lot of the hysteria is plain fear from those who are dependent on it. I recently heard three traditionally published authors asked about self-pubbing, and it was amazing how carefully they answered – no, they weren’t against e-pubbing for other people, but they’d NEVER consider it for themselves. It was as if they didn’t want their publishers to hear.