Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Novel Problem: Traditional or Self-Publish?

Few things are as heady to me as walking into a used bookstore or a small library and being surrounded by the sweet scent of old books. If the bookstore or library has some of that old world character (dark woods, leather chairs, and homey lighting) I could remain for days savoring the scents and devouring the words. I am very tactile, and the feel of a book in my hands, preferably hardcover, coupled with the action of turning the pages is a true joy.

This is why I want to publish traditionally.

Recently, however, I purchased a Kindle. This was actually a decision I struggled with for a year or so. I am highly averse to reading books on a computer, but I felt that the Kindle could help save me money as many of my required books are available in Kindle format.  I soon found out that I actually enjoy reading on a Kindle. I don't get the same visceral pleasure as reading a physical book, but I can transport a small library with me wherever I go. This convenience is a huge draw for me. Another huge draw for me is that it's technology, and I admit to being a bit of a technology fiend.

This is why I want to publish electronically.

So confused. When I start thinking about this subject, I start feeling a bit like  this...

OMG Puppy
I look a little like that too.
Anyhow, like my struggle with whether or not to purchase a Kindle, these warring desires over which platform to publish on have been baffling me. I know that I speak as if I have a choice in the matter, and you know what? I kind of do. Regardless, it's a bit pointless to worry about my platform when I don't even have a complete novel and won't until either next summer or after I graduate college in May 2013. Or is it?

While I can't publish TODAY, it never hurts to know the market. By following what's happening right now, when I am ready to start subbing my manuscript, I'll be knowledgeable and prepared. However, I feel as if we are on the crux of something big and I wonder if publishing is going to be playing by some different rules in the next handful of years.

Why? Well, I'm no publishing industry or economic expert, but when I read an article that Amazon now has TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING IMPRINTS, including 47North, a sci-fi, fantasy, horror imprint, I know that somehow the game has changed.

Before I had read that article, I had come to a decision: Traditional publishing for any easily-categorized novels of genre fiction that I write; e-publishing for anything that was not as easily categorized or was not generally picked up by the major houses (like collections of short stories). I had determined that if my future novels weren't good enough to even land an agent, much less an offer from a publisher, then they weren't good enough to self-publish. Self-publishing shouldn't be where you go when all else fails... it should be the option you choose because it makes the most sense (whether it's due to a non-traditional novel or collection of works, or for financial reasons).

... and I say that as a reader.

Quick note to a vast majority of self-publishers: Stop putting your garbage up on Amazon. I'm tired of trying to find new and exciting authors to read and have to wade through a mountain of badger poo to find anything.

I am not bashing e-publishing. I have read many articles where I saw the inherent value in going it on your own. But for the love of all that is NOT badger poo, please make it a conscious decision because of your needs or wants and not because you want to use it as your own personal Rejections storage bin.

Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger
Badgers? Yes. Badger Poo? No.
Back on track...

I'm no longer sure how viable my plan is, because Amazon has up and changed the entire game - or is trying to. But I do know this, I am going to be learning more about this, following it. If Amazon is able to offer authors opportunities like the legacy houses offer (advances, quality editing, quality graphic design, quality printing, opening doors towards getting your book optioned for film or tv or for international distribution, et cetera), then I will end up submitting to Amazon the moment my future novel is ready. There are a ton of reasons for this, but the main one is this: The sheer reach that Amazon has across markets around the world is absolutely insane, and as an author published under one of their imprints, that reach is going to get my book out to more people.  I'd be an idiot not to go with Amazon if they made me an offer.

But time will tell and when my novel is finally ready, I'll be ready too.


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