Thursday, January 3, 2013

Jealousy

I think jealousy has something to do (to what exent, I don't know) about some (some, not all) authors' and publishers' attitudes toward some indies. And it absolutely goes the other way around too; some (some, not all) indies' sneering at publishers/authors with publishers is rooted in jealousy that the certain author wasn't accepted at the publisher.

I saw something like the above on a comment somewhere (the comments section of J.A. Konrath's blog, perhaps), and it resounded greatly.

First, let's face it--lots of people get jealous easily. And here you have indie authors striking success without having to go through the arduous gate-keeping process. For example, it's hard for an author who experienced years and hundreds (if not thousands) of rejections to swallow--and even if after all these rejections, the author landed a contract that gives him meager earnings and is next to impossible to get out of. In other words, being with a publisher isn't what he expected, either.

And then here you have one type of indie author (there are other types, of course). Author slaps together a somewhat shoddy book (lousy cover, grammar errors, book wasn't beta read well, etc.). And this book skyrockets in sales and beats out the published author's book in example #1. Oh yeah, I can see where sneering comes from.

Some indie authors who have been through a lot of rejections are gonna be jealous of authors with publishers. Heck, there are probably indie authors who resent having to do their covers, editing and formatting (or contracting these jobs out), and envy authors with publishers who can sit back and have to do none of these tasks (with the exception of editing). That's just how it is--and some authors locked into inflexible publishing contracts are gonna be jealous of indie authors' freedom and their ability to get books out much more quickly.

Now that indie publishing isn't as new, it is much less likely for an indie author to slap together a shoddy book and become successful. I hope that lessens some of the "jealousy walls." One of my hopes with indie publishing/indie authors was that since it gave authors a viable choice (rather than publishers), it would force publishers to offer better, fairer contracts. That has happened a little but needs to happen more, IMO. Some publishers have adapted more noticeably though (more open to novellas, short stories even as ebook only, etc., more sleek publishing schedules, sales on publishers' own websites).

So, anyway, jealousy can also lead to good competition, and good competition should end up making both sides better. Publishers offering better contracts, less bloat, slicker schedules, more variety as to book length and formats, and indies stepping up their game as regards quality. Publishers can't get away with some of the stuff they did in the past because authors will go indie. Indie authors can't get away with certain things either because that heyday is easing toward being over.

In case any of you are wondering, here's my full publishing experience (it's a combination of both sides, I guess):

Shopped my first novel around to publishers in the early 2000s. Rejections galore. Shopped around my second novel. Got accepted at Cavalier Press. Then CP went out of business before my novel even entered editing. PD Publishing offered to take over CP's authors. I declined to be part of this deal because I thought it was a bad business decision (taking on these authors/manuscripts sight unseen and so many at once, too). More shopping around to publishers, one more rejection, then one acceptance at Regal Crest. "The Odd Couple" was published at Regal Crest, and to kind of help promote it, I wrote a short story or two for Bedazzled Ink's e-zine, Khamarial Ink (I have never been able to spell that name right). The stories, one of which was "The Old Woman," got accepted. I didn't really write for another two or three years. Then came fits and starts with "Waiting." Then "Strange Bedfellows" with a bit of overlap with "Waiting." Time to shop around "Waiting" and "Strange Bedfellows." (During this time, I obtained rights back to "The Odd Couple" and ended ties with RCE.) Rejections for a variety of reasons, but what they all had in common was the stories were well written. Then finally a contract offer.

This offer allowed me to have 30 percent net on ebooks. Too low, especially since it was net, not gross. I wanted 50 percent net. Nope. Publisher wouldn't give it to me, and several authors told me that 50 percent net IS fair. About this time, indie publishing was really taking off, and a few other things about this publisher bothered me. So I decided to try indie. If it didn't work out, I could always submit again to publishers. My indie books took off, yay! The book one publisher said was not marketable was my #1 seller until my most recent work, "Love's Spell," achieved better sales. I really love the freedom and the flexibility and I knew that unless terms were really generous, I wouldn't be returning to a publisher. That's still where I stand. Indie turned out to work really well for me, and I (yes, the teeny tiny jealous part of me) enjoys seeing my books beat out other books in contests by the publishers who rejected my books. Doesn't mean I hate these publishers. Far from it. There IS room for both, and while I think that right now, the ideal future for authors is in the indie world (because right now, the publisher experience generally still skews toward author disadvantage), I hope that the competition, so to speak, keeps both groups on their toes.

1 comment:

laycegardner said...

Here's a quote by Depak Chopra: "The best way to attain your goals is to help other people attain theirs."