Challenge,  publishing

I Don’t Care!

I Really, Really Don’t…

I constantly get letters from people talking about traditional publishing in one fashion or another, assuming, I suppose, that I still care about the buggy-whip factories of publishing. And sometimes, like a few days ago, I post about something going on in traditional publishing that just makes me laugh.I do posts like that to entertain myself because I had to live in that traditional publishing world for decades. I can make snorting noises at it now if I want.

I do have interest when copyright issues are being hammered out in court by a traditional publisher, or a trademark issues. But past that legal interest, or a watching-the-car-wreck enjoyment, I flat don’t care one bit about traditional publishing.

I do care that so many beginning writers spend their dreams that way, but as the old saying goes, you can lead a writer to knowledge but you can’t get them to think.

So I honestly with the big five would collapse even faster to save writers from themselves. But past that, I just don’t care.. This is almost 2023 and it is not my issue some writers and a lot of other pundits in publishing want to stay anchored in 1990.

The big industry of publishing has so gone past the old methods of traditional publishers, it is amazing. And so many writers in traditional come to me about not making any money anymore, or not being able to “sell” a book to a publisher, when there are thousands and thousands of writers making fantastic money indie publishing their own work and having total control of it.

The new world of publishing and licensing copyright is just forming for writers. It is an amazing future coming. And except for a little entertainment, I seldom bother to look back at the smoking pile of debris that is the traditional publishing big five.

And I most certainly don’t care, because what happens to the big five will make absolutely no difference to the modern writer. None.

And finally, that is how it should be.


  • Anthony Izzo

    I did three traditionally published books and went through rewrite hell with an agent. That was enough for me. I was thrilled when indie publishing took off. I’ve been doing indie/self publishing since 2011 and have never been happier with writing and publishing.

  • Mark Kuhn

    My wife subscribed to Masterclass for their cooking classes. Then she told me about their writing classes. I had always known they offered writing classes on that site, but I never considered dropping a dime on them.
    So I glanced through the James Patterson class first. I enjoy his books, but all he hammered on was all the myths. And the drudgery of outlining. Then it was all about getting an agent. You need to have an agent, he preaches.
    All the writers teaching on Masterclass talk about is traditional publishing. I don’t think a single one of them even mentioned indie publishing. To be honest, maybe one of them did, but I really didn’t want to find out because after listening to Patterson’s class, my critical voice was like, “See? See? I told you this is how it’s done! James Patterson wouldn’t lie to you!”
    There are still too many people preaching traditional publishing. And too many beginning writers are falling into that trap. At the end of the day the writers on Masterclass are all under contract so I assume they are not allowed to speak against their leash-holders and the gatekeepers.

    • dwsmith

      Mark, well, not really allowed, but think of it this way, you know how to do a job one way for thirty years and someone asks you how to do it, you tell them the way you have been doing it. It is not a bestseller’s job to wonder why their royalty and advanced have been cut to 20% of that they used to make. They just assume that is their fault, not a change in the industry. And they keep on. Just nature of the beast.

      • Grace Wen

        In what other industry can someone get away with doing their job one way for thirty years? It’s like these authors have never heard of the term “continuing education.”

        • dwsmith

          Grace, a great many authors don’t feel they need to learn anything. They sold something, so they know how to do it.Amazing how many authors think that way. Of course, the are soon (meaning five or so years) gone.

  • Vincent Zandri

    I don’t either, Deano (You’re in Vega after all). To the extent that I’ve gotten rid of most of my trad contacts on social media. That’s not to be childish but it’s to free up room for interested readers. I’ve been at this full-time for 24 years and I was still being treated by the old guard (the Otto’s, etc.) as snot-nosed authors who belong at the kid’s table during Thanksgiving dinner (the turkey is always dry anyway). Until I go through a spate of selling a ton of books and then they’ll do anything to get my business.

    You’re killing it on Kickstarter and so many other places, Ben Sobieck is killing it on Wattpad and even getting movie options out of them as if they were an agent, Chuck Palenhiuk just said no to a traditional deal and is going with Substack, Zandri is making thousands on Vella and engaging in daily substack posts and his The Writer’s Life YouTube channel (3300 subcribers and counting…

    More people are tuning in to podcsts and YouTube than all of major mainstream media combined…All media is undergoing rapid change. There are so many options now to sell your books, videos, articlles, it’s mind boggling.

    The point is that we are all finding our own independent way to get our work to readers and completely bypassing the centralized authority. Like I’ve said before, all those nights I’d wake up in a cold sweat wondering if an agent liked my book or if he or she was going to sell it so I could keep the lights on.

    A vivid memory: seated in front of Suzanne Gluck’s desk at Wiliam Morris like she was the queen bee and I was the worker bee about to be stung and killed…That was the attitude. Fuck ’em. Things are working out nicely withou your help Suzy Q, thank you very much. Oh, but thanks for the ten dollar bagel and coffee.

    My two cent rant hahaha….

  • djmills

    “you can lead a writer to knowledge but you can’t get them to think”


    Or get them to do the work involved to get their novels Indie publshed.

  • Bruce

    Well said, and a good dose of reality. I wonder if many writers still believe that if they get their book into trad publishing, that COULD be their golden ticket. Like winning the $1+Billion dollar lottery, or they could develop the next Harry Potter franchise. That fantasy dies hard, but for many it might seem better than waiting for years to slowly build an audience.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, some people in the real world build a business from the ground up and end up well-off or even rich. Others play lottery tickets to get rich. The other way is too much work.