Publishing has changed massively since I had my first stirrings to become a writer at the age of thirteen. Back then, traditional publishing was the only option. Write a carefully formatted manuscript, send to publishers and/or agents, wait for months, then get rejected many times before someone’s commercial business plan matches up with your creative outpourings.
Looking back, it was an appalling situation for writers. On the other hand, it did help weed out a lot of bad writing attempts, including some of my own early submissions.
When self-publishing began to take off in 2009-10, writers like myself who had attained a level of respectability by being accepted by a publisher had a deeply ingrained attitude that self-publishing equalled sub-standard writing. By 2012, I began to catch on that it didn’t have to be so and some excellent writing was coming out of the slush pile that might not have fit a large publisher’s financial projections. There was still a lot of stigma and I had to transcend a deeply ingrained way of thinking to take a leap of faith, but frustration over my fiction publisher’s inability to attain wide distribution pushed me to examine a trend that was growing; independent publishing.
A little over four years later now, I would never go back. I’ve watched the quality of independent books rise to a professional standard that any writer would be proud to put their name to. Not all of them of course. But the successful books offered through Amazon’s KDP program have had the offerings of large publishers as their competition and I’ve noticed a trend for those publishers to cater to a common denominator while certain independently published books have far surpassed the material that a now cautious business model allows.
I love indie publishing. As both a reader and a writer, I love the independence and choice that the system supports. As a writer I can choose or change my book covers, fix the few pesky typos that seem to always slip through the editing process, update the back of the book matter and determine how far I should go with a series or what I might choose to write about next.
As a reader, I can sample as many books as I like and find something I really want to read, rather than settling for popularist pap that a business person somewhere decides I should want to read. Granted that the genre crossover categories have been a cause of complaint from me in the past, but they have also given me some food for thought of just where my own stories, especially the Goblin Trilogy which was never intended for mainstream, best belongs.
The next stage of my publishing journey will be to start releasing my non-fiction work independently. The publisher who has dealt with that material has done a wonderful job over the years, but I feel it’s time to take control of all of my writings in a realm of fewer limitations as to what I can write about.
We’re in a new era of the publishing industry and although writer’s have lost their mysterious celebrity status and become more available to their readers, we’ve gained something more important; control of our own work. Having said that, I think I’ve gained even more as a reader. When I take out my Kindle to read in the evenings, I can choose what I want to read, not what some publisher wants to sell. It is that pleasure that makes me proud to be a part of the culture of independent publishing.