If you follow the discussion on blogs and forums, you can be forgiven for thinking that the Traditional Publishing houses are the Death Star and the Indie publishers are the intrepid rebels. I think that’s not the right model.
I read an interview with John Locke on Indie Reader today that I think brings a better picture into focus. John says,
“Before entering into my distribution deal with Simon & Schuster, I knew that TV and print media was the exclusive domain of traditionally-published authors. I knew as an indie author it was unlikely I would ever be interviewed on TV, or have my paperback, Wish List, reviewed in print media. So I knew there was an exclusive club. But I thought my distribution deal made me a member, or at the very least, an honorary member. Boy, was I wrong! I hired a publicist and offered myself up…and quickly learned I was not part of the club! Not one media outlet would talk to me or review my book. Even the little papers in the towns where I grew up and went to high school and college refused to do a story on me!”
Read the full interview here
My take on it
I didn’t go the indie route because I hate the traditional publishers. I do feel like they need to shift focus from hanging on to a broken model to exploiting the new opportunities. And, like John, I think there are lots of opportunities. Building bridges can help both paths to publication thrive.
As an indie author, I tried the ‘I DO IT’ method and it became clear that I didn’t have some basic skills outside of crafting a good story (I hope). Now, I go looking for people who have the skills, and who I can afford, and who see me as a valuable client. I’ve been lucky – and patient – to find people I can work with. That means, there’s value to the traditional model because I’m doing it in a small way.
In my post about writing for your audience, I offered the opinion that the author going the traditional route has to write their story twice. Once for the agent/publisher and once for the reader. I think in an ideal world, the gatekeeper would be a concierge rather than a funnel. For the savvy Indie author there are lots of people who can give you the value that a traditional agent/author would provide.
The bottom line
For me, I think the two different paths to a reader will co-exist. Like a lot of change, it will take some pain, but I think we’ll make it. Remember not every indie publisher is delivering unedited crap to the table. And, every book from a traditional house is not a best seller. There’s common ground between the two poles.