Myths on Both Sides… Part Two…
I say this little introduction to each new parts… New fiction writers coming in now are really torn between all the myths and hype of traditional publishing and all the myths and hype of indie publishing.
But as I said back in the first post of this series, the paperback era of big publishing is pretty much done, and the distribution of fiction is changing over to the electronic era of indie publishing, with indie writers in charge.
These kinds of major shifts in fiction distribution to the readers has happened four major times through the history of this country, with each new era lasting about 50 years and the transitions lasting about 25 years. Again, see my first post.
New writers coming in today don’t know this history, don’t realize they are coming in smack in the middle of a transition. And to make matters worse, the myths passed on by writers on both sides make it often impossible to know what is truth and what is myth.
Myth: It’s Easier Going Traditional… It’s Easier Going Indie
You hear this silliness all the time from those wanting to justify going one way or another. Truth, the writing profession is not easy going either way. Sorry.
In this transition of fiction publishing from traditional paperback distribution to indie electronic distribution, the major difference isn’t the learning curves in either direction, but instead the time. A writer spends six-eight years now learning all the aspects of traditional publishing, only to find themselves in the last years of the form and in shrinking companies.
Same kind of learning time going indie can get you a lot more learning about how to be a better storyteller, a lot of writing practice, a lot of learning on production and business, and when you are through the early years, you will be right at the start of the new era of publishing.
Both ways have learning curves. Both ways take time. Just one way has no future after you spend all the time to learn it.
Myth: Make More Money Going Traditional.
In the first few years of the indie movement, that might have been true, but now even studies are showing a vast difference in the amount indie writers make vs traditional writers.
Indie writers make a lot, lot more. That’s because indie writers have a ton more markets and customers. Indie writers sell around the world and just doing a Kickstarter for a new book can earn the indie writer more than most traditional publisher advances and that is before one book is even sold.
Also remember, indie writers make 70% plus per sale. Traditional writers are lucky to make 10%.
And indie writers keep the books fresh and in print. A book in traditional publishing is fresh for six weeks or so and then it vanishes.
Myth: One Way Or the Other is Faster…
Beginning writers and early stage professionals are always in a hurry. Always.
So they think they should be making a living after one book or two. That never happened on either path, even back in the heart of traditional publishing era unless the writer was lottery lucky. I made six figure incomes for over fifteen years in traditional, but my lowest book output in that time was six novels, my highest thirteen. I worked at times for 6 to 10 different publishers at the same time.
There are only five publishers left. No one can do what I did now.
Now in indie, I make far, far, far more per year than my best year in traditional publishing.
Making a living at writing fiction takes time. And a lot of study on becoming a better storyteller and a ton more things.
The main reason I watched writers disappear in traditional publishing over the decades was because they were in a hurry. I am seeing the same thing in indie now. They don’t reach some weird and not valid imaginary point with their writing and they feel they are a failure and they quit.
Coffee money is a fantastic term. From 1974 when I sold my first short story until 1987 when I sold my first novel, I didn’t even make coffee money by todays standards. Not even close. Yes most writers do not have the strength or will to go that long letting sales grow slowly as they learn how to tell better stories.
If you don’t want to be a writer, tell stories, and just let the income grow over years, going either traditional or indie will be wrong for you.
More myths and other topics next post…