Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How To Not Sound Elitist (Intentional Or Not) About Publishing Methods

I've been debating talking about this because it could hurt feelings/offend, but I gotta just lay it out. While attitudes towards indie have improved a lot over the time I've been a writer, little things still sneak through. 
It's usually at conferences on panels where no indies are repped but the topic veers that way. Or online when traditionally pubbed people are giving advice they believe is universal but is insulting to indies. It can be in the way we measure "success" in the business. Or what people deem as "writer skills."
Here we go!
1. You Have To Have An Agent. 
Regardless of changing perceptions of indie, this has stuck around hard. I've had three agents. I currently do not have one. I stayed in my last agent partnership longer than I probably should have because I felt like I would be "less of a writer" if I didn't have one. (And that held me back in a lot of ways I won't go into right now.)
Just stop telling people you MUST have an agent. If you're traditional and you want to pursue the Big Five, YES, get an agent. But you don't NEED ONE to be a great and valid author.
2. Traditional Is Always A Better Path To Success
Having spent time on both sides of the fence, I really beg to differ at this point. Both are a lot of work, both can find incredible success. What really is a factor? GENRE. Some genres (like YA and MG) still see more "success" in traditional. Others (Romances, adult genre fic)? Holy crap can you do SO WELL as indie. 
3. Only Traditional Publishing Can Provide "Quality Work"
I call bull crap. I've worked in traditional with my own original work, on contracted books, AND in indie. Honestly? The editor I hire for my indie is the BEST one I have worked with. She has time for me specifically. She is efficient and thorough. She is worth more than she makes me pay. 
AND then there's the cover art and other book production factors. Is there a learning curve in indie? Oh yes. But that doesn't mean indies don't improve and find their groove. There is so much quality work out there in indie, as there is in traditional....also, there is meh stuff in both as well.
4. It's All About The Writing All The Time
The secret indie writers seem to know is this—writing to market makes you money. There's this idea in traditional publishing that "writing true to yourself" is the only way to go and eventually if you wait around long enough some publisher will pluck your brilliance from obscurity and you will be famous.
How does traditional make you famous? Marketing. Oh, and marketing. Also, some promotion and marketing. It's great if your books are "amazing" but it's better if they fill a niche market or hit a massive wide market. 
Indies have their "write to market" strategy and their "passion projects." A LOT of the most successful are incredible and savvy marketers and I admire that skill set SO MUCH. They have the control over their work to advertise it and target their audience at a level traditional authors can't—they're at the mercy of their publisher for the most part.
(Now, to the meaner more obvious ones.)
5. Indies Are Writers Who Couldn't Get Published/Didn't Try Hard Enough
So not true. Many out there are hybrid. Others found they could produce much faster than traditional could publish. Some wanted the full cut for themselves and knew they were capable of the Whole Job, from writing to editing to publication. Others enjoy that full control and don't want extra cooks in the kitchen. Stop assuming you know why an indie chose their path.
6. "Writing To Market" Is Somehow "Bad Writing"
This happens a lot. We see a successful writer, indie or traditional, and we want to write them off because "Oh, they just hit the market right but they're not actually good." Psh. That's a remark spawned from jealousy. Market fiction, genre fiction, can be both well-written and successful (though maybe not to your personal tastes)—it can also come from indies and traditional. 
7. "I've Never Read An Indie Book, But..."
There are so many writers who have lots of opinions on the state of indie publishing but have never bothered to read indie work. And then they ADMIT IT, and somehow BRAG about it, as if they are better off because they haven't tainted their eyes with such "low writing."
I could go on, but this is a good start. If you can remove those last three from your mouth and brain entirely, that's a decent start. The next step is removing your more subtle biases towards traditional publishing. 
There truly is more than one way to be successful in publishing. And there are so many indies who love what they do and wouldn't have it any other way. Let's keep pushing for opening our minds to all the options authors have today. It's a good thing!