Recently, someone in my RWA Chapter announced she was going to self-publish her novel. Her announcement was met with much celebration. But not so very long ago (even as short as last year) this sort of announcement would have been met with a lukewarm response, at best.

Personally, I support this author's decision. I hope she does very well, and at the very least, a novel she believes in, which is written well, will be available on the shelves as "proof" of her dedication and hard work.

But, I wanted really to talk about the options today and her efforts really opened that door. Of course, this is nothing new -- discussions like this are cropping up all over the place. Authors now have freedoms they didn't have previously: self-publishing, small-press digital and print publishing, traditional publishing, are just a few. Authors are starting publishing companies to support their self-pub ventures. Authors are creating "Imprint" motifs to make theirs stand out. Authors are joining with other authors to help network their independantly published titles. And through it all we see the same things happening in both small press and traditional press.

My own feelings?

I think an author will succeed the most by incorporating a variety of approaches, not just using one and only one. It's hard, very hard, to generate notice as an indie-pub'd author. Exposure is often one of the biggest contributors to sales. Sales make or break a career.

I know what I have made in royalties from my small press books, and I know how much time I've put into marketing my book and trying to garner exposure. I also know that even where I have succeeded, there's no way I can generate the level of exposure, or quality of exposure, on my own that my traditional publishing house can do simply by stocking it in bookshelves.

It's also a well-known fact that the authors who see the greatest success in Indie publishing are those who have a following. Those who are releasing their back lists in digital. I caution the author who belives they will become an overnight success through Indie publishing to step back, read the industry, and really consider the expectations you might have.

Even authors who have some degree of exposure through small houses often struggle. If they are struggling, and they have some marketing abilities granted to them, it's even more difficult for those who don't.

So, my thoughts are very much along the lines of use the digital world to your advantage. There's absolutely nothing wrong with indie publishing or using a small press. But do so with an open mind and open eyes. Celebrate your releases. Promote your rear off.

Still keep working on a novel that can meet the demand of traditional markets. Because, you'll develop a symbiotic relationship between both markets. Readers who pick you up off a bookshelf and fall in love will look for other titles. Readers who find you on Kindle, will look for others. If you have the ability to produce at even a moderate tempo, you can compose one or two shorter stories for the digital world with one or two longer stories for traditional publishing. Digital comes out faster. Those quick releases will help keep your name alive, your product flowing, and keep folks reading you while they are waiting on your next "larger" release.

I've tried to encourage all my critique partners to consider the *business* of writing. I'm encouraging you to do the same. Step back from the goals and dreams and celebrations and look at how you can make the current business model work for you. And that model is (or should be as you draw it out) heavily influenced by the digital world.



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