Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are you an Entrepreneur, or an Employee?

There has been a consistent cry against people who choose to publish their work through means other than traditional publishing houses.

"There is no quality," they say. "Why would you put something out that is less than your best?"

Or, "Getting a publishing contract is prestigious. It's a mark of quality and professionalism."

Which really, both of those comments are tied into one another. And both of them show people who don't realize their writing is an independent business, one where the writer wears all the hats. And where all of their decisions directly impact their business.

I don't have to actually reply to either of these comments. Instead, I can show evidence written from many other writers, people who've been well published or who have received awards from their books. Writers who take their independent business and ALL of the decisions within it seriously. People like Kameron Hurley, who details her experience and the many pitfalls associated with her contract. Or Kiana Davenport. Or how about David Farland, who has published quite a few books both traditionally and self-published waxing on about the loss of control of his book's covers, something which can make or break people's purchasing decisions?

The number of people I've heard say poor covers are the reason they don't buy self-pubbed books makes me wonder if they've taken a look at some of the covers traditional publishing has produced. Here's a whole blog dedicated to the very topic!

As for well-written self-published books, you only have to look at the likes of Hugh Howey to see well-written and excellent stories can come from indie books.

I'm not saying all indie books are amazing. Let me be clear: there are plenty of stinkers, both in self-published and traditional publishing. No side to publishing is free of poor quality, or poor decisions.

Generally speaking, there's a sliding scale when it comes to praising traditional publishers. The higher up the money chain, the more pro-big publishers comes out. The most complaints about how traditional publishers work come from the mid-listers, those who seem to consistently not receive the benefits/options award winners or bestsellers receive. Or enough money to make a living.

And while we're on the subject: keep in mind all of the book data about sales for all sides are severely hampered by what distributors are on the sales list. We don't have clear and accurate statistics about either traditional publishing figures OR ebook sales. There's always someone excluded when it comes to sales.

Back on topic.

What concerns me about these comments is the unspoken message about a writer's business. As an entrepreneur, we have a duty to keep up with the publishing business, and all of the avenues there-in. Some will work for us. Some won't. But bashing one side or the other without an understanding of what each type of publishing brings to the table is limited thinking. Ultimately, the health and longevity of your career should drive these decisions, not what we've been spoon fed by any one side.

As an entrepreneur, you're in control of your business. An employee is someone who gives up their control in return for something - money, benefits, etc.

So which are you - an entrepreneur, or an employee?

Having a writing career is a choice. A choice to have your own business, and be as engaged in your work as you desire. When you choose to sell your rights to a publishing house (yes, I said rights, because that's what you're selling when you sign that contract), that is YOUR business decision. Is it the best decision for your business? Is it worth the time and money to get a good editor, make a good cover, and do your own advertising?

Only you know the answer.

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