Tag s | Self-Publishing

Déjà Vu All Over Again – Indie (AND) Traditional Publishing

The discussion of indie versus traditional publishing has been bothering me lately. I know it is still a relatively new issue that everyone involved in publishing needs to sort out, but what has been bothering me is that I know I have heard this kind of discussion before and could not think when.

After much brain-racking, it finally dawned on me.

It was in the 1980’s when personal computers were starting to make inroads to both homes and businesses. I worked for a small company and was asked to spearhead the “computerization” of the office.  With little direction and even less knowledge of computers, I set off on my quest to investigate the correct path for the company.

My first stop was to a store that specialized in Apple Macintosh computers. The conversation with the store associate went something like this:

Me: “I am looking for the right direction for computers at our company.”

Mac: “I would be happy to help you sir.” (It was cool to be called sir in the early 80’s)

Me: “Here is a list of applications we need, I would be happy to hear your recommendations.”

Mac: (without reading the list very carefully) “Oh, you have come to the right place. If you buy all Apple Macintosh products, it will meet all your needs and you don’t even need to consider those evil PC’s using that evil DOS operating system.” (OK, I added some interpretation to make this a good story)

Needless to say, the guy wasn’t very helpful. He was interested in selling his solution to anyone who had a need. Whatever the need, Apple had the solution, no questions asked. No need to look further. I actually would have liked him to ask questions to see if he understood anything about our business.

I thanked the Apple guy for his help and went to another computer store that sold PC’s, running the (evil) DOS operating system. That conversation sounded like this:

Me: “I am looking for the right direction for computers for our company”

DOS: “I would be happy to help you young man.” (The PC computer guys were older)

Me: “Here is a list of applications we need, I would be happy to hear your recommendations.”

DOS: (without reading the list very carefully) “Oh, you have come to the right place. If you buy all PC products running DOS, it will meet all your needs and you don’t even need to consider those silly playtime computers from Apple. You know, they build those things in garages from parts taken from household appliances like toasters.” (Again, my interpretation to make my point.)

Here’s what was happening: Neither side was entirely right or wrong.  In fact, anyone who had a perspective that didn’t include a healthy dose of balance was actually not helpful at all. They were not customer-focused. They were focused on what they were paid to sell.

There is a place for Indie publishing and there is a place for traditional publishing.  Anyone who tells you one or the other is the only way is really only saying, “This is what works better for me, right now.”  In reality, what works for one may not work for another and what works best might change a year from now.

What is the correct way to view the Indie vs. Traditional discussion?

It starts by removing the “vs.” from between the two terms and inserting he word “and”.  The only people who want to keep the “vs.” are those that are selling a certain approach or had a bad experience with one or the other. Everyone else must navigate a world that includes an appropriate mix of both.

What did I do 30 years ago with the computers? We bought some Macs for the creative people and PC’s for the accountants. Everyone was happy and filled with joy…until six months later when new upgrades of the computers came out and then the staff wanted the next thing.

I pretended I didn’t hear them talking.


Leave a Comment

News You Can Use – June 18, 2013

Self-Published eBooks Account for 12% of the Entire Digital Market – Watch the stats for trends.

How People Read Online – Does this mean I have to shorten my blog posts? And if I do will you still skip the last 2/3rds of what I write anyway?

Three Scriptural Cautions Against Self-Publishing – Do you agree or disagree? (and then read the next link below)

Three Reasons to Support Self-Publishing – A rebuttal to the previous link. I appreciate careful discourse and debate that does not devolve into chaos. This point-counterpoint is a wonderful example of how to conduct this type of conversation.

Did You Forget to Pay Royalties for Singing “Happy Birthday”? – A fascinating article which tells of a company who is suing to get “Happy Birthday” declared public domain. Ever wonder why restaurants all have their own song for celebrating birthdays? They don’t want to receive an invoice from the copyright holder who makes $5,000,000 a year in royalties.

3 mistakes to avoid when following up on a pitch – This article can be applied to pitching editors and agents too.

10 Blogging Tactics To Maximize Long-Term Results – Excellent advice from Heidi Cohen. I get this kind of question a lot from authors trying to use their blog to market their books.

The Overwhelming Force of “Gradual” – Seth Godin talks about building low and slow for maximum success.

Read More

News You Can Use – Dec. 4, 2012

Guideposts sells Ellie Claire Line and Selected Summerside Titles to Worthy Publishing – Worthy Publishing adds a great gift book line along with some Summerside non-fiction to their company. Plus they added a new VP, Jason Rovenstine, who joins them from his similar role at Ellie Claire/Summerside. The Summerside fiction line remains with Guideposts with no editorial changes. Guideposts fiction and non-fiction remains untouched. (If you are curious an out of date web site shows previous products published under the Ellie Claire imprint.)

Three Things You Can Do in a Novel but not Onscreen – Derek Haas helps writers understand the difference.

The Elevator Pitch – READ THIS ARTICLE!!!! – Susan Morris nails it on the head. The best way to talk about your book to and agent or an editor. Excellent.

Archway Publishing: Simon & Schuster Adds a Self-Publishing Division – Victoria Strauss pulls back the curtain. If you weren’t aware “Like the other self-publishing divisions of trade publishers (LifeWay’s Cross Books, Thomas Nelson’s West Bow Press, Harlequin’s Dell’Arte Press [which, unlike other ventures of this sort, produced a furore upon its introduction and had to change its name], Hay House’s Balboa Press, and Writer’s Digest’sAbbott Press), Archway Publishing is outsourced to Author Solutions Inc.”  And Author Solutions was recently purchased by Penguin…which is merging with Random House.
Confused yet?
If you get a contract from a publisher and you don’t have an agent, check out Victoria Strauss’ site and do your research.

The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion – Nathan Hangen makes a great case.

Want to be amazed? Watch this one minute video of a machine scanning a book at the rate of 250 pages per minute. Do the math. If there are an average of 300 words on a printed page and it takes five minutes to set up a new book, you could feasibly scan ten books an hour or 80 per day. A library of 5,000 books could be scanned and digitized  in two months.

Read More

News You Can Use – July 31, 2012

#1 Secret of Great Writers – Joseph Putnam reveals a secret that everyone should know.

Great Keynote Speech from RWA – Stephanie Laurie graciously posted her rousing keynote presentation on the business of writing. (Thank you Debby Mayne for the link!)

21 Links to Fonts for Self-Publishing – On of the biggest mistakes I see in self published books is the use of the wrong font. This incredible resource from The Book Designer blog will give you a crash course on what works and what doesn’t if you are attempting to create your own print book. Even if you aren’t self-publishing this type of “course” will give you a greater appreciation for the “art of book-making.”

The E-Book Marketplace is About to Change … Dramatically – Mike Shatzkin details the implications of the Department of Justice proposed settlement with some big publishers regarding the accusation of price-fixing online.

The Shakespearean Guide to Entrepreneurship – a clever post about how Shakespeare transformed himself from an als0-ran writer to “The Bard.”

How I Did Research for Three NY Times Bestsellers – Ryan Holiday talks about his secrets to doing great research.

Read More

News You Can Use – June 5, 2012

Six Tough Truths About Self-Publishing (That the Advocates Never Seem to Talk About) – Rob Hart writes an insightful and cautionary tale.

22 Rules of Story Telling According to Pixar – This is an excellent article for every novelist to read.

10 Great Science Fiction Novels for People Who Don’t Read Sci-Fi – I have to say that I agree with only four of their choices. Such is the nature of reading and recommending fiction! (Of the 10 I would choose Card, Bester, Shelley, and Herbert.)

Are Books Becoming too Long to Read? – A stimulating article that makes you think twice about the length of your books. I do see a trend in NON-fiction toward shorter books. Fiction is still a matter of taste and storytelling ability.

How Fast Do You Read? – Staples.com provides a quick little test including a comprehension quiz at the end. How fast are you?

A Summertime graphic for you to enjoy:


Read More

News You Can Use – May 29, 2012

Self-Publishing: Under 10% Earn a Living – An article out of Australia makes a bold claim. I would claim, however, that only 10% of traditionally published writers earn a living too. Of course that depends on your definition of “a living.”

100 Best First Lines from Novels – In honor of the last two weeks where we talked about “first lines” I found this article from the American Book Review that chooses the top 100.

Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer – Jon Morrow extracts the best parts from King’s book on writing and then applies it to the blogger.

Six Ways Copyeditors Make Your Book Better – Linda Jay Geldens makes an excellent point. Never skip this step before putting your work out in the public.

The No-Tears Guide to Podcasting – There are many who say podcasting is an excellent way to extend your platform and engage your readers.

Two Excellent Articles about Commas: Their use and misuse – written by Ben Yagoda
Fanfare for the Comma Man
The Most Comma Mistakes

Read More

News You Can Use – Feb. 14, 2012

It has begun – The Welcome Assault on Costly Textbooks– But is this the best way to do it? Free online publisher-quality textbooks for five of the country’s most-attended college courses. Funded by big charitable organizations like The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It could change the economic future of some major textbook publishers. I fear the homogenization of Education or the control of what is taught in college Biology class, just because it is free.

Pinterest Boards for Book Lovers – Ten places to try out the latest social network phenomenon.

Five Ways to Maximize the New Changes on Facebook – Confused by yet another change to Facebook? This should help.

Is Self-Publishing a Ponzi Scheme? – Richard Curtis, as usual, is brilliant and insightful. Do think this is out of line? or cutting close to the truth?

Is it Time to Bundle the E-book with the Physical Book in Online Sales? – I asked this question of Hachette 2 1/2 years ago during a Digital Initiatives presentation and was told no. Dennis Johnson of Melville House Publishers discussed the issue with great insight.

Lady Solves Wheel-of-Fortune Puzzle with One Letter – This article shows that it wasn’t luck but years of study and preparation. Sort of like something thinking they can just sit down and write a whole book in a weekend.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Read More