As fiction writers, we live in an exciting era right now due to the new distribution opportunities available through Kindle, PubIt, and Smashwords. But to hear some writers talk, it’s Indie vs. Traditional, and one has to choose sides.
Well, a lot of neo-pros and old (20+ years) pros I’ve been talking to are excited about being able to do both indie publishing and traditional publishing at the same time. Having more revenue streams as a writer makes it easier to pay the bills each month. And as long as one is careful about reading and negotiating away any excessively broad non-compete clauses in a traditional publishing book contract, doing so should not be a big deal.
Short stories still need to go to traditional markets first if you want to sell them to a place like The New Yorker. But if you write a novelette or novella that can’t find a traditional home, it is now possible to indie publish it instead of just letting it sit around unpublished. And once the exclusive time frame on a traditionally published story expires (and if you didn’t sign an all rights contract), you can republish it as an indie reprint to generate more income.
But one thing I want to emphasize is the importance of thinking twice before giving away a royalty cut to an e-packager for an indie story. Dean Wesley Smith and J. A. Konrath and Barry Eisler debate the pros and cons at length in a post put up today.
We’re all in for a wild run over the next few years in publishing. Since I used to work in the software industry–which makes publishing look glacial by comparison–I confess I’ve welcomed the publishing technology breakthroughs that are bringing on a faster business pace.
Posted in Business of writing, Contracts, Markets, Publishers
Tagged Business of writing, Contracts, Dean Wesley Smith, e-publishing, e-readers, indie publishing, indie vs. traditional, Markets, Money, Publishers, self-publishing
I went on a trip to Disneyland, and for the first time experienced the joys of not having to lug around a stack of paperbacks and hardbacks in my backpack. I just got an e-reader (a Nook) and had a wonderful time exploring the Project Gutenberg website, whose mission is to provide to readers free access to classic books and reference works in the public domain (though donations are encouraged).
I was able to download electronic versions of books such as ALICE IN WONDERLAND, TREASURE ISLAND, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, EMMA, and several other classics.
If you’ve ever lugged around a hardback version of THE COLLECTED WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, you know what a pain it is to the back and wrists. Being able to carry Shakespeare around in a feather light electronic device was a joy. Plus, when we got stuck in the airport due to flight delays from all the snow back east, I had enough old classics written for kids on the Nook to keep my son entertained for hours.
I’ve heard people talk about how they’ll never get an e-reader because they love the smell of paper, but I think one can have fun owning both paper and electronic books. Each format serves best in certain situations. When stuck in an airport, an electronic reader is an amazing tool for people who love to read and who want to share that love with their children.
I also encourage writers who are doing research to check out the non-fiction collections that Project Gutenberg has put together. I’ve found some wonderful out-of-print reference books from the 19th century to download to read in preparation for doing various writing projects.
Project Gutenberg provides their electronic files in various formats (ePUB, Kindle, rtf, html, and txt).
Sooner or later it happens to every writer. The story that’s too weird in characters or plot to get past the sales force of a publisher, or has the wrong word count–too long for a short story sale (10,000 words or more), too short for a novel sale (less than 55,000 words).
It used to be when that happened all one could do was save those stories up for a collection of short stories or let them rot in a drawer.
And then after awhile, one reaches a point where one knows a story is going to be quirky after the first few pages, and an overwhelming urge would hit to just give up on it since there was virtually no market for it.
That’s why I’m so excited about the new distribution systems opening up through Smashwords, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt. Writers’ quirky stories are going to be able to see the light of day. I’m looking forward to seeing what some of my favorite writers do in this new world.
And these days I no longer get the urge to stifle a story after the first few pages, because I know if it’s of publishable quality I can find a home for it, no matter what, down the road. No story I write need sit rotting in a drawer–unless (like the first novel I wrote) it ought to. Bad writing is still bad writing in this new world.