I feel like I’m standing in the churchyard at Wittenburg, watching a disgruntled, fat little monk nail papers to the door.
I feel like I’m standing on the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo on a hot summer day, letting the breeze off the water cool me as I watch a man run toward the Archduke’s motorcade.
We’re here at the turn of the page of an era and it’s in parts exciting and dangerous and frightening.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. First, when Betsy decided to self-publish and again now that every move I make over at Amazon is deluged with self-publishers promoting their 99cent Kindle books. I often wonder if I should just self-publish and try to gain a foothold in the new marketplace. That is, after all, how Benjamin Franklin and Charles Dickens did it. Kind of.
I’ve held back because I think there’s a certain romance to having a publisher publish your work and part of me would really enjoy that experience. But now I’m starting to re-rethink myself, in large part due to a mainstream author I’ve been following for a couple of years now.
A few years ago I discovered this writer by accidentally grabbing one of their works at the library. (The cover was non-genre standard and I didn’t realise that it was a book in a genre I didn’t normally read.) I loved the book and immediately sought out others by that writer. Soon I was devouring what was quite a sizable body of work, all of which was great fun. And since this was a mainstream author with a large following there was a book every six months, like clockwork.
I started reading the author’s blog and started to see that Real Life was taking precedence. It was obvious that work wasn’t first on their mind anymore, as other plans were taking shape. But the writer is a working writer yoked to a publisher’s timetable. So regardless of whether or not they had a story to tell, the writer delivered a book every six months. Like clockwork.
The last three are lousy. You can sense the writer’s distaste for their occupation on every page. Even worse, you can sense their distaste for their customers. Instead of coming up with fun, escapist passages, the pages are full of lectures about how folks should watch their weight and get outside to enjoy life more. It started to feel like a slap in the face.
And that’s what’s wrong with the way mainstream publishing works. Books don’t come out now just because they’re good. They come out because they are a viable product. If you happen to be the maker of a viable product, you are stuck. No matter what. Like a bee it’s your job to crap honey.
Part of me thinks more and more that it’d be great to write AND publish on my own terms.