When I sat down in the much too early hours of the morning to write this post, I found myself at a loss. My brain is fried and the ability to come up with something new seemed beyond me. So, as I will often do when I’m unsure what to blog about, I started checking out a few writing-related sites to see what they had to say. Nothing really jumped out at me until I started scrolling through The Passive Voice. One article in particular caught my eye. I’m not going to actually discuss the article, so I’m not linking to it. However, the idea behind the article did set me to thinking — something that might be dangerous since I’m pre-coffee.
Basically, the article was a lengthy dissertation about how the indie publishing industry has changed between the author’s first and second book. I’ll admit, I started chuckling pretty much right away. This particular author’s first book came out in 2016. While the industry has changed in the last two years, indie publishing hasn’t changed all that much, not in the big picture and not when compared to what it was 10 years ago.
I’m not going to bore you with all the details about what’s changed. However, to give you an idea, it wasn’t unusual for conversion from the final manuscript to ebook format used to take hours, perhaps days. Many of us actually hand-coded the html because the programs available back then simply didn’t do a great job. While there wasn’t as much competition because there weren’t as many indie authors, there also weren’t as many readers willing to take a chance on us. We were the outliers, the gamblers and a lot of us fell along the way while others stepped up to take their places.
Would I change anything about the path I’ve taken? For the most part, no. I was lucky because I had Sarah and Dave not only cheering me on but there to help me learn my craft. Even so, I’ll be honest. If I wasn’t impatient, if I didn’t want to wait a year or more from the time a publisher accepted a book to publication, I’d probably still be trying for a traditional publishing contract. But I started looking at the industry, at the economics of it as well as the number of publishing slots available vs the number of authors trying to win one of those slots. The odds were definitely not in my favor. I suddenly understood why so many folks said you needed more than the ability to produce an engaging, well-written story. You needed luck or connections or both.
Amazon changed that and took the power away from traditional publishers and they haven’t yet forgiven Jeff Bezos and company for that. You see, Amazon, for all its faults and there are many, gave authors another option. They didn’t do it for authors. They did it for their customers, knowing readers would buy books that were entertaining and well-written, no matter who wrote them or who published them. Amazon recognized something publishers still delude themselves about: most readers haven’t a clue about who published the book they just read. All they know is who wrote it and whether or not they liked it.
Yes, there are exceptions. Publishers like Baen have a core fan group and those fans will look for the Baen name or logo on a book. But they are the exception, not the rule. They also have come to expect a certain type of book from Baen and, if Baen stops giving it to them, they will find it elsewhere. That’s a lesson Baen knows (or should) and yet one so many publishers seem to ignore (I’m looking at you, TOR).
The challenge facing indie authors today isn’t the fact our books are making up an ever larger part of the market. The challenge isn’t even that we have to handle all aspects of publishing either through learning to do them ourselves or finding people who know what they are doing to do it for us. The challenge is keeping ourselves motivated and writing on a regular schedule. Why? Because readers aren’t as dumb about the industry as many traditional publishers seem to believe. They understand they no longer have to wait a year or more before their favorite author brings out another book. Indie publishing has shown there are a lot of excellent authors out there. So, if we, as writers, aren’t putting out books quickly enough, they will find someone who does, especially if we are writing series.
Now, before someone reminds me we all write at different speeds and have different demands on our time, I know. But I will remind you of something as well. Indie publishing has changed another rule. Books don’t have to be 100k words now. You don’t have to write goat-gaggers of 175k words or more if you are writing fantasy. Quick reads are just fine. Write a novella or short novel if that helps increase your output speed. If that doesn’t suit you, then throw in an occasional short story to keep your readers interested and remind them that you have a new book coming out soon.
And, on that note, I guess I ought to remind you that I have a book coming out on July 3rd. Fire from Ashes is the fourth book in the Honor & Duty series.
At war with an old enemy, betrayed by a supposed ally, Fuercon is a system on the brink of disaster. All that stands between it and defeat are its Space Navy and Marines – and the fact the betrayer does not yet know its secret plans have been discovered. But will that be enough to turn the tide of war?
Honor and duty.
Honor and duty have guided Colonel Ashlyn Shaw’s life for as long as she can remember. Honor kept her sane when she was betrayed by those she had fought beside. Duty gave her reason to trust again once the betrayal came to light and her name, as well as the names of her fellow Devil Dogs, was cleared. Now she and the Marines under her command are once again asked to risk their lives to protect Fuercon from its enemies.
Family and the Corps.
They are why she fights. She knows what will happen to them should Fuercon fall to the Callusians. Their lives are worth any sacrifice she must make to help keep their homeworld safe.
The not-so-secret driving force of Ashlyn’s life. Four years ago, someone betrayed her and her command. That person now works to betray Fuercon. Ashlyn is determined to discover who – and why – and bring them to justice.
The storm clouds of war gather and time is running out. Will Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs be able to turn back the enemy and unmask the betrayer before all is lost.