Musings Over Coffee: The Choice to Go Indie

Last night, I came across backup files of my old websites hosted on Geocities. I found poetry, stories, and interviews I’d done with actors like Alan Cumming and Dan Futterman. I also found a newsletter.

Yes, apparently, I wrote newsletters then! This one is from Christmas 1999. Y2k anyone? (I’m really dating myself, aren’t I?)

What struck me with this newsletter is that this is when I made the decision to stop writing my stories and submitting them so I could focus on building my massage practice.

Also stored in the external drive was a romantic suspense novella (2001) that was formatted into an ebook using a program that created ebooks for your computer. Unlike the way ebooks work now, back then, you had to buy a program that would convert your novel into an ebook that could only be opened within that program.

Also back then, there was no such thing as digital publishing like the way it is now with ebook retailers such as Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, and so many more, with Amazon dominating the market by about 80%. If you wanted to be published back then, you had three choices:

  1. Submit to traditional publishers
  2. Publish your own book which includes forming your own press.
  3. Pay a vanity publisher to publish your book for a fee.

I never got around to do any of the three above although many members of my writing networking group did go #2 and #3 routes and they often held signings during the month to sell their books. Instead, I quit writing to focus on building my massage practice until 2012 when I began writing again to process my son’s autism diagnosis. I would then self-publish my first book in November 2014 and go full-time in 2016.

Currently, there’s a scandal going on in Romancelandia (as I’ve seen this field called) that involves a Brazilian author plagiarising lines from over 40 authors in her own books. She’s gone underground since the revelation but not before pinning the blame on ghostwriters and advice from publishing gurus that the only way to succeed in this business was to publish more books more often—like one book or more a month.

Long story short, it has devolved into “self-publishing is evil and crap” argument, where authors who offer their books free or for 99¢ must either be scammers or terrible writers because no self-respecting author would do such a thing. Readers have been given part of the blame for expecting more books more often from their favorite authors and also expecting them to be free or sold at a discount. And then there’s the “evil” Kindle Unlimited program that devalues books and authors’ hard work by offering a subscription service that allows readers to read exclusive-to-KU-books for $10/month, sometimes even less when there’s a promotion like last holiday’s $3 for 3 months’ subscription.

A quick side note: What I’d give to listen in on filmmakers and musicians whose movies and songs end up getting licensed by Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services. Does that mean they sacrifice $$$ for the visibility and exposure of their work to Netflix or Spotify’s millions of subscribers much like Kindle Select authors sacrifice $$$ for their books to be seen by the millions of subscribers of Kindle Unlimited?

I’m not going to argue whether KU is evil (I have half of my books in KU while the other half is available everywhere), whether perma-free books and 99¢ devalue my books or is a scammer’s tactic (my erotica pen name has a perma-free and so does Liz, with the perma-free available everywhere BUT Amazon and I also have 99¢ books), or whether I should limit my publishing output this year to two books a year because any more than must mean I’m a scammer who has to hire ghostwriters to meet the demand or the quality of my work must be crap.

No, I’m writing this over my now-cold coffee to say that I’m a self-published author because that’s the way I like it, I price my books a certain way as part of a marketing strategy, and I plan to release more books this year simply because I want to. I have so many stories to tell, and after holding myself back the last two years because of the whole ehrmagawd what will everyone think of the many books I want to write syndrome, I’m done with that. And yes, that includes releasing under different pen names.

Looking back at 2001 when creating an ebook meant one had to have a dedicated computer program to create the ebook with and read it on, we’ve come a long way to continue to cling to the belief that books are scarce and that authors are only amazing when vetted by a traditional publisher and that they have to publish only 2 – 3 books a year like the Big Five authors do.

Times have changed. People have changed.

Why do we have to go back to the way things were that primarily benefited only a select and oh-so-privileged-in-more-ways-than-one few?

7 thoughts on “Musings Over Coffee: The Choice to Go Indie

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