Firstly, this has been done to death in many a blog. I’m aware of that and I’m not going to cover the same ground. If you want details, how-to guides and pros and cons, do a search and you’ll find plenty of material. But at the same time this is my personal blog so I figure I should probably write about why I, personally, am going down that route.
What makes a writer? I’ve said this before. If you write, if you love it, if it’s your passion, you’re a writer. You might not be any good, you might struggle to find the time, you might only be able to manage one hundred words on a really productive day, you might have ten bestsellers under your belt and a learjet in your garage; whatever, you’re still a writer. Congratulations. (Especially if you’re the one with the learjet.)
But for the rest of us normal people having a contract and a fat advance from a big publishing house is great, of course it is, but that isn’t why we write. At least that’s not why I write and I suspect it’s true of many. I write because I love to craft stories, to create compelling narrative, dialogue, characters and, hopefully, to sculpt lush, eloquent and poetic prose that might be considered “literary” (that most arbitrary of labels). But most of all, I write to be read. I love the idea of creating something that someone else might enjoy. I do it with music, I do it with art, I even used to spend hours constructing elaborate scenarios for Role Playing Games (yes, I am a geek and proud of it).
Except, in the current environment it’s monumentally difficult to get published by a mainstream house. Except, each submission takes months before you get any reply at all. Except, years can go by without anyone ever getting to read what you’ve made.
So, why have I gone down the indie route? I haven’t. Nothing’s ever set in stone. I know I’ll keep writing, stuff will still get sent to publishers, I know I’ll get lots more “positive” rejections (there’s a dichotomy), and maybe at some point something more. But in the meantime I couldn’t justify sitting on manuscripts that have been lying in my harddrive collecting cyber-dust when they could be read and, I hope, enjoyed by people. They’ve been edited to death, read and re-read by people who aren’t friends or family but who still think they’re great. So why not?
I am also very aware that if you become a successful writer published by a mainstream house you get pigeon-holed. Well-known conspiracy writers write conspiracy thrillers, well-known historical fiction writers write historical fiction, well-known sci-fi writers write… yes, you guessed it. And that’s fine, maybe they do write other things and publish under other names, maybe all they want to write is what they’re known for. I couldn’t stick to one thing. I love to read and write romances, plays, screenplays, sci-fi, contemporary literature, historical thrillers… the list goes on. So why shouldn’t I? If I ever get a publishing contract I’d probably be contracted to write in a particular style and setting. That’s fine, but it won’t ever stop me from writing anything else I might want to write… and self-publishing will always be there for me to make sure at least some people read what I’ve written.
And having said all that, the publishing world is changing, and changing fast. Now that Amazon is effectively becoming a publisher, now that self-published authors have the ebook readers and access to large audiences, who knows what the future will bring.
In the meantime I’m keeping my love of writing and momentum going by getting something I’ve written out into the world… it’s very early days, but I’m loving every minute of it, so whatever happens it can’t be a bad thing.