Sue Quinn is here today.
SO TOTALLY STOKED!
If you haven’t sampled Sue’s books, you’ve got to give them a read. Open Minds is the first in the series, followed by Closed Hearts. I own them both and they’re spectacular–smart, intriguing, and just super cool, like Sue herself. She’s also wicked savvy when it comes to indie publishing, as you’ll see from her post below.
In today’s publishing world, we have more options than ever. It’s definitely a great day to be a writer. As you probably know, Angela and I are self-published authors; we’re clearly indie publishing believers. But we’re also both pursuing traditional publishing for other projects, so we embrace the benefits of going that route, too. Both paths have value, and the advantages of each have evolved because of the fact that there are options now. Sue chose the self-publishing route, and she’s thriving–with the YA audience, no less, an area of indie publishing where success is as evasive and fickle as the muse herself. So I’m excited to share her very experienced thoughts on self-publishing with you.
I knew that Amazon had announced their new Kindles last week – one went straight on the wish list for my mom, who is desperate for a touch reader, her original 2010 Nook 1st Edition being ancient technology now.
What I didn’t realize (until the awesome folks at The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing pointed it out) was that Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) gave a press conference. Amazon-loathers of the world, you should skip this part, because this video clip is pure love fest – Bezos loving writers and writers loving him back.
If you’re skipping the video, here’s the parting scene: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, leading applause of KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) authors in the audience, saying “This is transformative stuff.”
Why? Why the love from a man whose vision is not to publish books or support authors, but to “be the earth’s most customer centric company?”
Clearly, authors make money for Amazon. Before you dismiss that as hopelessly self-interested on Bezos part, think about what that means, when 70% of sales go directly to the indie authors themselves: authors making money for Amazon means they are making a lot MORE money for themselves.
This is an inversion of how publishing has worked in the past, when authors made far more money for their publishers than they did for themselves. This isn’t a slam on traditional publishing, but a simple fact: the infrastructure of print (which meant the infrastructure of all publishing, in the past) was an upside down pyramid, with the creative efforts of the author having to support a mountain of rocks, known as paper distribution. With the advent of ebooks, that distribution system became much more efficient. Delivery is instantaneous and extremely inexpensive. There are no middlemen required between the author and the reader, no mountain of rocks the author must support. For the first time, the author is able to keep the lion-share of the earnings from their own creative work.
My mom has been following my writing career, since I first put fingertips to keyboard in pursuit of writing fiction in 2008. She’s always been amazingly supportive, no matter what I’ve done with my life, but she’s been flat astounded watching my self-publishing adventures. She told me one day, after one of the many articles I sent her, that she finally realized authors could actually make a living now at what they love. They are “living their dream to dream their livings” as Bufo Calvin said on WG2EP.
And that rocks in a major way.
If all this talk of money feels slightly sordid to you, as a person who does creative work, please understand what this means: making money enables authors to keep writing, write more, and write what they want.
THIS is the true reason why now is a great time to be a writer. For the first time, authors have true freedom to write whatever they please, as frequently as they please, in whatever genre at whatever length they please, without regard to whether it will sell – because the only one taking the risk is themselves. And my observation has been that writers are much greater risk-takers than publishers: it’s the nature of creative workers vs. businessmen (of course, the most successful businessmen are also big risk-takers, but that’s a different blog post).
I can’t self-publish, because I don’t want to spend all my time promoting.Then don’t. Simply write and publish. The rest is optional. If you don’t believe me, let me tell you the story of a short ebook written from the POV of a goat that made it big. There’s no guarantee that your book will be widely loved; the only guarantee is that readers around the planet will have access to it. From there, it’s up to you as an author to produce something that people want to read. Or to adore the five fans that “get” your work. Either way, you’ve done something most writers crave: connected with readers.
I can’t self-publish, because I’ve always dreamed of being in bookstores.By all means, keep pursuing that dream. For some people, it will pay off – this has always been true, and continues to be. But there are choices now that were never available before, huge unexplored territories in the creative landscape that have been opened. Write a novella from the POV of a secondary character, just for fun? Do that. Write a series of novellas and publish them mere weeks apart? Try that. These are things you can’t do in traditional publishing, and if you’re not careful in the contract you sign, may be prohibited from doing on your own. If exclusively traditional publishing is your dream, pursue it, but understand the choice you are making and the freedoms you may be giving up to do so.
I can’t self-publish, because that’s the last resort for hacks who can’t make it in traditional publishing.If this is still your reason, I can’t help you. This has been disproven again and again. With 27 of the top 100 books on Amazon being self-published, there’s a whole lot of holes in that bucket, and it’s just not carrying water anymore.
Here’s the plain truth: for the first time, your writing career is in your hands, something that’s terrifying to many writers.
But I have faith in you.
If you’re brave enough to put pen to paper in the first place, if you have the courage to pour your heart and soul into words on the page, if you dare to share your work with others, taking the slings and arrows of critique in a single-minded devotion to crafting the best story possible: you can handle the challenge of self-publishing in the ebook era.
And if you choose not to, the choice will still be there tomorrow. And that’s a very good thing for all writers.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack series. You can find all her books on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and iTunes. Susan’s business card says “Author and Rocket Scientist,” but she spends most of her time writing, because she loves it even more than shiny tech gadgets. When she’s not writing, you can find her wasting time playing on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.
Thanks, Sue, for sharing! You have been and continue to be an inspiration to so many. And thanks for hosting me at your blogtoday. Musers, if you’ve got the time, please pop over and see what I’ve got to say about Change Begetting Growth.