Traditional publishers are looking pensively at the exploding indie market, and with good reason. For far too long the publishing houses served as gateways to new authors, but sluggish markets, the difficulty in finding an agent, and the stifling contracts awarded to the lucky few created a bottleneck for new work hitting the market…but no more! Aspiring authors are now welcomed into a burgeoning platform and the question remains: Is this good or bad?
On the one hand, obviously, more literature is a good thing. But the need to self-promote and advertise one’s own words separates serious authors from profiteers who excel at self-aggrandizement. Most authors by nature live as introverts, and self-promotion is an anathema they find repugnant. Therefore, the same limitation often exists. Their work is available on platforms like Amazon or Nook, but crazy hard to find. And the titles exploding in the Kindle reading lists are not necessarily the most worthwhile.
This troubling feature is a credit to the traditional publishing houses who screen less than worthy authors. Elitists might argue their role a valuable one, but best-selling success stories like Louisa May Alcott, F Scott Fitzgerald and Melville offer compelling evidence otherwise. Some great classics hit the book racks in spite of dismissive publishers. For heaven’s sake, Harry Potter was rejected fifteen times before someone took a chance on it! These famous authors endured many rejections until being “discovered,” and discerning readers wonder how many other good reads never made the grade. Indie publishing levels the playing field. I’m giving the indie proponents a win on this score.
So how easy is it to publish a book? Write it. Proof it. I suggest hiring a good editor. The mechanics of designing a cover require some tenacity, as does formatting it for the upload. But the bottom line is this: anyone can write a book and the marketplace is exploding. Establish a KDP account, fill out the forms, upload your manuscript and cover, and voila! You’re an author! Coupled with the ability to order inexpensive and limited numbers of prints in paperback, it’s easy to see why the indie market is the best thing since sliced bread.
Selling the book yields a point for the publishers. Getting an indie book into bookstores requires a fair amount of luck and a pint of your mother’s blood. It’s not easy, by any means. And don’t get me started on the algorithms of Amazon ads. If you want to enjoy monetary success, it is easier to find a publishing house who will print and promote your blockbuster, and I already told you about that uphill battle! And yet I still find myself enamored by the indie movement and love the way it is shaking the literary world.
At some point the infatuation will peak and the glut of online books will require leveling mechanisms beyond the current listing by category and number sold. In the meantime, take advantage of the wave. Still apprehensive about putting your words on paper? That’s what ghostwriters are for. You submit your tape or scribblings, and a ghostwriter produces the book for you. You still have full editorial rights and full ownership, but minus the pain of actually putting your memoirs on paper yourself. (If you need a ghostwriter, contact me, because I can meld my voice to match your own and take on one to two new authors a year. If I don’t have an opening, I can recommend another.)
In short, this is the year of the book. Indie publishing ushers in an opportunity for anyone and everyone to put their life stories, their ideas of how to change the world, or their goal of entertaining the masses within reach. Take advantage of it. Write!