Tuesday, February 4, 2014

IWSG - The Indy Publishing Revolution

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Maybe we just weren't listening at the time, but we don't recall anybody telling us that the hardest part of being authors wasn't writing the book, and not even finding a publisher (which are both hard), but in promoting the thing once it hits the streets!

But all the promotion in the world won't keep readers from jilting you if you haven't first done your "homework."

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First, though, this is the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop, hosted by our incomparable Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh (thanks, Cap'n!), postings shared on the first Wednesday of every month by a host of conspiratorial scribblers:

"Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"

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Now back to the promised topic:

The Indy Publishing Revolution

We've been lucky enough to develop good relationships with several small presses who've published our books, and we're very grateful for this. But we've also experimented with the vibrant and intriguing world of independent publishing. (Actually, the author work load has been very similar -- more on that later).

We also try to do our part by supporting the initiatives of both author-friends and strangers who bravely stride into the ranks of the Indy publishing revolution: We buy works by new authors and spread the word about those books we like.

The democratizing venues now available to aspiring and established authors are an exciting prospect, and ones that avoid traditional gatekeepers who, we suspect, may not always be in touch with readers' tastes. This trend seems more prevalent in the larger houses (Is it still the Big Six? Or is it now the Big Five, Four, Three, Two, One... countdown?), which select marketable titles based on the corporate modeling of rear-view book sales.

That's why we love small presses, where editors still love books and are more willing to take a chance on a new idea or a new story twist. The drawback, of course, is that more promotional work falls to the author represented by such smaller houses.

In fact, that extra work seems only a half-stride away from venturing into independent publishing since it's not that much more promotions work. Indy publishers who take their stories directly to the reading market can keep a bigger cut of the proceeds for all their efforts. And let's face it, writing is one part passion, one part craft, and one part business -- if you want to succeed.

However, in the past year, we've taken a step back from our initial reading enthusiasm for many indy publishers, reassessing our optimism for one reason:  
Too many writers are rushing to print before their books are ready.

Are there good Indy authors out there? Of course. But we've become more gun shy of late and now hesitate to click the download until we've researched the reader reviews (including the ratings-stingy two- and three-star critics). Or we might try a sample before we buy. And it's not so much a matter of price as it is a matter of our time and our reading tolerance.

Hey, we're authors, too, and we want our peers to succeed.

We all share a passion for words and  well-turned phrases. But we also expect other authors to apply the same serious rules of engagement, homing their craft, using a spell-checker, and weeding out those typos and hard-to-read grammatical errors.

After all, poor writing reflects on all authors -- Indy or otherwise. And when we read books that sling out  ideas (even good ones) with no attention to the tools of the trade, it makes us cringe.

Worse, it makes us hesitate to buy.

We suspect we're not alone in this sentiment, since sloppy writing and editing hurts everybody's image, but especially this newest trend in publishing. If that means hiring a copyeditor or a book doctor, then do it. You can always factor it into your production costs.

So Indy friends, please, please take the time to get it right before you offer your books to potential fans out there. Make sure we'll want to finish not only your first book but all the ones that come after that first one.