December 28, 2014
Ink is in my veins. Fonts dance through my head. I dream of kerning. There has never been a time when I wasn't writing for someone, somewhere. Really. I wrote my first novel (as yet unpublished) at seven. Every college I went to (and later dropped out of), I worked on the paper. Every job I've had, I've become the go-to writing pony.
In a span of twelve years, I edited more than 70 anthologies, wrote a slew of novels, penned more than 200 non-fiction articles, and kept up a near-daily blog.
Basically, I write all the time, and if I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing.
I don't know everything there is to know about publishing. But I have to say, this is the best moment I've seen for writers. In the past, there were a handful of publishers who could say "yay" or "nay" to a project. If you received a "nay," you didn't have much recourse. You could go to a vanity press. But there was stigma—and exorbitant expense. You could make your own 'zine. You could write on a wall. Now, if you have a book or a story you can completely control all aspects of your project—from font to finish. You can use a print-on-demand service that will allow you to make your own cover. You have the power.
In 2009, I wrote a piece about what publishing was like for a small, indie press. We were scraping by. Until we weren't. Our publishing house never could get the market share in the big box stores. We survived by being a darling of the book clubs, until the book clubs disappeared. In '09, I said ebooks were the way of the future. I also said that writers should receive a higher royalty. (I said that a few times, and the royalty *has* changed.)
I think I was right.
Recently, I read an article in which writers complained about Amazon's royalties. The authors might have a point. I don't know. But I'm grateful. Amazon pays up to 70% of the cover price to the author. When I was a publisher working with Amazon, I received 45%.
But there's too much competition, say the authors.
There has always been competition.
Now, it's simply a different type of competition. In the past, the competition was to get published. Today, the competition is to get noticed. Instead of jockeying for a slot with a publisher, you're competing with writers for readers. Maybe you just didn't see the competition in the past. Maybe 98% of the writers wouldn't land a publishing deal.
My gut says this new way is fair.
And I'm not saying that because I'm on top. I'm not on top. I'm struggling as much as any writer. But I'm able at the moment to finish a project and put it up for sale. With no printing. No sales reps. No storage fees.
Aside from that, the money is better. I receive 7% royalty off the title price of my mainstream published books. For a $14.95 book, I make $1.04. With Amazon, I can receive up to 70% royalty—depending on the price of the book. Do the math.
Am I sounding a bit aggressive today? Well, this fall was my worst ever nightmare situation with a publisher. And I've had nightmares before. I was sweet-talked. I was sugar-coated. I was bullied. I was gas-lighted. I was mind-fucked.
I appreciate the ability to forge my own way and be responsible for my future successes and failures. Because I promise you—I will never stab myself in the back. Seriously? Being an indie has never looked so good.