Friday, July 1, 2011

Mythology - Control

When I was first traditionally published (print pubs in NYC), I learned a lot of "dos and don'ts" for published authors. I have a  monthly forum here at Novel Spaces to ramble on, I mean share my knowledge. The next few posts will deal with some "rules" that I'm happy are getting stomped on by the rise of indie publishing. First up, lack of control.

I was told numerous times to just accept a basic fact, authors only have control over one thing: the quality of their writing. Everything else is in the hands of your publisher. Cover art, distribution, marketing on a national level, even the title of my books would be out of my hands. Not only that, but I couldn't do those things as well as my publisher anyway. Authors could give input on cover art and cover blurbs, but 99.9% of us had no veto power. Distribution and marketing were such that even if an author tried, they couldn't take a hand in those two. Agents told us, editors told us, publishing sales people told us, other established authors told us. Everybody was pushing the Kool-aid. Since I didn't know as much as them, I drank right up.

Six months ago I started on the indie publishing journey, and learned a whole new set of rules. On example: cover art. I was leery of taking a stab at designing covers, because I really believed the old rule. After all I wasn't an artist or graphic designer. Now I didn't do the actually layout and Photoshop, but I designed these covers by selecting the cover art, describing the layout I wanted and writing the cover copy. I think they're fab (bow to Pati Nagle of Mandala Design)

I enjoy having control and breaking the old rules. Or proving that in this new world the old rules are obsolete. Authors can get control of distribution. Enter Create Space, Smashwords, Lightening Source. Oh, and marketing? Most publishers did one or two ads (for romance authors it was typically Romantic Times Magazine back in the day), but that was it. Authors had to do most of the promotion and marketing themselves in reality. So doing my own marketing isn't actually a big change.

I still, of course, control the quality of my writing. But I love writing books I want to write. I'm not writing with someone looking over my shoulder shaking her head. I like the freedom. Ah, control. What a wonderful word.

Next month: Mythology: Writers Walking on Eggshells

Lynn Emery
Writing books with the kind of women we all want to be, and men want to get. Smart is the new sexy!
Buy my books at the Kindle Store, Nook Books, and Smashwords


KeVin K. said...

I'm so old school I still conflate indie with vanity when it comes to presses. I'm learning about the changes in the industry and the marketplace. From what I can see this 21st century may not be a passing fad after all. May need to make some adjustments in my thinking (which is, I believe, one of the signs of the end times).

Good to have you aboard, Lynn.

Charles Gramlich said...

I definitely like doing the cover copy and blurbs. No one knows your book like you do. Good info.

Lynn Emery said...

KeVin - Change is good. Time to toss the old assumptions. No end of days, at least not until 2012 lol. I'll bet some monks said the same thing when the printing press came along. :-) Change is as old as this planet. At least if the world comes to an end, I'll have had fun writing!

Charles - I Love having so much control. You're on target, with a little professional design help I can come up with pretty good cover concepts.

Liane Spicer said...

Great to have you on the team, Lynn.

What KeVin said. I still haven't quite sorted out the distinctions between self-publishing, vanity publishing and this term I'm seeing everywhere now, 'indie'.

I drank the Kool-aid all right; what choice did I have? The only respectable way to go was the route of the traditional publishing contract. I gritted my teeth and drank up the lack of control, the arrogance of (some) agents, the insulting advances, risible royalties, questionable accounting practices and waste.

Now the industry is changing so fast that my head - and many others, I'm sure - is just spinning. One thing is clear to me, though: 'indie' publishing is tailor-made for authors like you who have been traditionally published and who already have a solid backlist and fan base.

For the rest, I'm not so sure. There's a lot of noise out there, and a lot of hype.