The new face of publishing has really set the Internet on its ear. Pundits abound. Lists are everywhere. I’m not going to tell you I’m an expert. I’m going to say – I’ve been writing for decades. I’ve published a magazine, and I’m currently publishing 130 plus authors and 600 titles in a variety of formats. I’m going to tell you I’ve had good, and bad editors, agents, and publishers myself. In other words, I’ve been around the block a couple of times.
The current thing distressing me is the all-or-nothing attitude people seem to be taking toward self-publishing. There is the old school publishing model, agents, NYC, big advertising money and advances, reviews in trade magazines no one can afford… and there is the opposite, self-published books, priced to sell at .99 and making their way onto the best-sellers lists. I’m not in ANY WAY putting down that success. It’s remarkable, it’s eye-opening, and it’s very very cool.
Here is the thing though. Everyone is different. Some people have the charisma, energy, and skill set to market, blog, tweet, post on every available online outlet, design professional looking covers and go the distance. Some people just write. Some people can do a little of each. The new publishing paradigm is going to need to be be more diverse than the old one. Some will make it because of their ability to embrace the entire digital world and work it like a finely tuned instrument. Others will need help. Some will make it by luck. Others will have the endorsement and help of someone who already has the pull to raise someone up to a new level. We all have to work together, and the best part of this new digitally powered world is that there ARE options.
The new message:
You have to have a blog
You have to be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.
You have to schedule tweets, do giveaways on Goodreads, conduct blog tours.
The old message was:
You need an agent.
You will have to wait years to get noticed.
Almost no one will make it to the top, or even into print, but you pound away until it happens.
My opinion is – some of all of this is true, on different levels and in different degrees, for everyone. Do you need an agent now? No. Did you need an agent before? No, not really. I sold all of my novels myself. All. I have had agents handle the contracts, etc. for me, but I sold my books myself. Same deal now. I sell them myself. You don’t have to wait forever – unless you want to be published in NYC – same as before but now you have options. At the same time if you want a six figure advance from NYC you may need an agent with the right connections. Good luck to you. Why deny all the options others might choose? To validate your own choices? Blogs, Twitter, etc… Yes, no, maybe. If you are good at those and have time / bandwidth for them they help. If you are bad and try them anyway they are frustrating and soul-sucking. If you work with others, you can group some of that work together, playing on the strengths of those who can.
When all is said and done, all publishing will not be self-publishing. It’s as discriminatory a paradigm as the old one, leaving out all who can’t play the game, and I don’t believe the world will turn its back on all those authors who can write amazing stories, but can’t market them well if they choose to accept help. Crossroad Press and the model we promote can help. We are not greedy, we are not trying to get rich on the work of others. We are not NYC…but we ARE giving a lot of authors the breathing room to write, and for others we’re providing that bridge – that step up – that allows them to compete with a new digital generation. It’s exciting, and I believe it’s important. If I didn’t I would just be doing my own books..
The two things that remain true in publishing and writing have been around for a very long time.
1) Everyone wants to know the secret to getting published and becoming a bestseller.
2) There is no one way, or secret, and never has been.
The sooner number 2 sinks in and we all start working and building together, the better.