Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why Recent Publishing Changes Are Both Good and Bad for Indie Writers

Yesterday, I was fortunate to be one of the attendees at my group, the Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles, and their kickoff workshop of the year, called:  Kickstarting Your Writing Career.  There were handouts and tons of information for the newbie and aspiring writer/author.  Now, even though I don't exactly fall into that category anymore, that doesn't mean I don't still learn something about his business every single day.

The most question-provoking topic was the recent merger involving Random House and Penguin books.  I am certainly no expert, but my take on the merger matched that of our presenter in the workshop; namely that there are good and bad aspects to it.

The good is easy to understand.  The merging of the two superhouses means that the Big 6 has now become the Big 5 and the stranglehold the "traditional" publishing houses have on the industry seems to be dwindling.  And that's good for indies.  The smaller amount of brick-and-mortar houses shows us that the world is becoming more and more accepting of the independent houses, which bring the same amount of strict editing and professional guidelines as the Bigs, and are proving it by helping a growing number of indie authors find mainstream audiences.

The bad news is not as clearly evident.  With the merger of the two houses, there will be fewer editors to submit work to, and fewer opportunities for indies to break into them.  There will likely also be fewer large advances, greatly reduced reasonable advances and more closed ranks than ever in the trade publisher's circles.  And the plot also thickens.  There is an industry rumor that Harper Collins and Simon and Schuster are also considering merging.

For us indies, while the news isn't exactly encouraging, it isn't discouraging, either.  The news won't change the way we write, the amount of our passion, or the level of our dedication to our stories.  It won't change the way we shun the traditional route in favor of the independent one, and it will never change the way we want to retain control over our own fates.

What will change is our devotion to our own independence.  For us, and slowly, for the world, being independently published is the same as being traditionally published.  Just as respectful, just as credible, just as impressive.  The small army of indie authors we once were, we are now numbering in the thousands.  And our professional commitment to the quality of our own work is not suffering as a result.

We are hiring editors, and cover artists, and graphics designers to help us reach our vision.  The driving force behind the movement has created a whole new genre of independent contractor as well.  Savvy social media conductors, technologically advanced video producers, and even Facebook and Twitter experts are helping us package, market and yes, even sell our beloved creations.

As an independent author with five of my eight books published through two independent publishers, I could not be more proud of my accomplishments.  And when people ask where I am published, it is with pride when I tell them Astraea Press and Musa Publishing.  There are many benefits to publishing both traditionally and independently, but in my personal opinion, the rewards to publishing independently far outweigh the traditional route.  I intend to go into that further in another post.

For now, if you are an aspiring writer, keep writing.  And turn your sights away from the names you have always equated with book-writing.  I, and a whole league of indie-authors I know, are here to tell you their reign is just about over.  Follow this blog and others and you will soon learn what I mean.  And in the meantime, do what you always do:  write a good book.

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