Happy 4th of July! Today we celebrate freedom, and in the U.S. that means the freedom to choose our own religion, career path, locale to live, and much more. Rarely do we stop to appreciate the bounties we have been given. What does this mean to us as writers?
Today we have more freedom to choose where to publish our work. We used to be confined to the mega New York publishing houses. If you weren’t in there, you were out in the territory of the scorned masses, wallowing in the disreputable halls of the self-published or with unknown small presses. A friend of mine published her book in ebook format with Hardshell back in the day. Was it no surprise that this venture got nowhere? Ebooks hadn’t been widely discovered yet, and this publisher was ahead of its time. Today, it’s a different story.
Indie publishing has blossomed along with small presses and digital first imprints. We have so many more choices, almost too many as they can get overwhelming. If we decide not to wait for a publishing house to determine our fate, for example, do we really want to become publishers ourselves? Because that’s what this world is coming to as we authors take the reins.
Here’s what it means to choose the self-publishing path: Besides writing and marketing our own works, we have to outsource to editors, cover designers, and formatters. We have to collect the income from various distributors and formulate our own spreadsheets. And don’t forget buying ISBNs, determining a name for our publishing “company”, and registering for copyright.
With freedom comes greater responsibility, and we’re feeling that as indie authors.
You give up some of those freedoms to go with a publishing house, be it large or small. You also give up a percentage of your income and price control. But then they handle the cover design, editing, and distribution. If it’s a decent house, you get your rights back in five years and then you can put up your edited work on your own. But it could take years just to get your manuscript accepted in the first place and then scheduled…years that your book could already be available to readers had you put it online yourself.
These are tough choices, but at least we have them. It’s more than we could do several years ago. Now there’s always the possibility that our work will make it into the hands of readers one way or another. Isn’t that a reason to celebrate?