Feb 23, 2012

The Great Debate

Okay, I should probably post a little explanation, here.

Self Pub v. Trad Pub.

Good lord, it's a bit of a sticky wicket, eh wot? Like something out of Braveheart or Mad Max or some such. So let me, pray, clarify something here, with a delightful series of numbered bullet points. Or is that bulleted number points? Eh. Whatever.

1) I, yes, am a self-published author.
2) I have many friends who are both self-published and traditionally published authors.
3) I do not hate traditional publishing Publishers.
4) I do not hate Literary Agents.
5) I do not hate money.
6) I do not live at home with my parents. (I don't really know why I have to clarify this, but, hey, might as well)

I really tend to be somewhere around the moderate middle in this big debate - really, I tend to go with whichever side is not trying to insist that their opinion is the only one that matters. The truth is, there's a big bold brave new world in publishing, and what used to work CAN work, but it's no longer the ONLY way it can work. There are more ways to publish effectively, which means there are more authors publishing. That means more books, end of story. This means that there are more good books and more bad books. But also, because there are so many more books, I recognize that this means each individual book may just get less people buying them. I hereby acknowledge that this can be scary.

But publishing companies don't seem to be acknowledging this effectively. Raising prices on books is the second-most antiquated form of trying to boost revenue, and it's rarely effective. In fact, behind the number one most antiquated form of trying to boost revenue (layoffs), it's really pretty much the OPPOSITE of boosting your revenue.

And if you don't think this is a real thing, have you already forgotten the problem with CDs? You know, CDs, those small plastic discs that used to be how you bought music? Or maybe you forgot about DAT tapes?  cassette tapes? Records? 8-tracks? Wax tubes? Betamax? Laser disc? Oh, and you know I could go on and on, here. Don't make me whip out my mad crazy video game historical knowledge. I'll do it, I will.

My point there is that technology affects change. It creates it. Inspires it. Look at how you're READING MY WORDS. I just wrote these, moments ago, by pushing a bunch of buttons on a plastic keypad THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY FROM YOU, and there you are, reading it. ON A COMPUTER. Or a cell phone. Or an iPad. Whatever. The point is, this sort of thing, while now commonplace for our children, was science fiction when we were children, and yet here it is. With that ability to communicate, opportunities arise for us to produce and create in ways that had been previously unavailable. With those opportunities, change happens. It simply does. Can't shove the genie back in the bottle. Stop trying.

And, look, my favorite analogy to all of this is the arrival of the automobile. Did people just stop riding horses forever? No. A lot of people did, yes. But that's because the world expanded as our reach grew. Some people moved with it, some didn't. Does this mean horse riding is bad? Of course not. I myself LOVE horses. But if I'm going to the store, I'm going to take my car, because I can't fit that many groceries into a saddlebag.

Change is good. Opportunities are good. Options are fantastic. But we need to stop using a lot of words like "right" and "wrong", because those just become too argumentative to be helpful. Also, people need to just chill out on trying to make this sweeping declaratives and stop using words like "best" and "worst" and "only" and "always" and "never." Many ways to get there, folks. What might work for one might not work for another. It's chaos theory. Look into it. Trust me.

Look, I understand that chaos is scary stuff. It's uncertain, and that casts a lot of things into doubt - in times like this, a lot of people will cling to the only things they know and close their eyes, cursing the darkness. I'm just trying to say, cool off a bit, take a breath, take a pill or watch some reruns or play some video games or whatever it is you need to do to relax and slow your roll. It's gonna be fine, you'll see.

So, say it with me: It's going to be all right.

Because it will. Totes.

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