Friday, July 22, 2016

On Self-Publishing.

Several of my old writer friends have taken advantage of the self-publishing game to reprint their back list. These are novels that were published by way of the old system of traditional publishers. Books for which they were paid an advance and which earned them royalties. Later, as the years passed, ownership reverted to them once the boilerplate contracts ended.

So they took the old traditionally-published books that had been honed and edited to a fine point and which had good track records for quality and professionalism. And they self-published them. This has been one of the good sides of self-publishing.

When my novel THE FLOCK first came out I hit a few regional science-fiction and fantasy and comic conventions to promote my work. After a while I began to meet some writers who were self-publishing via Amazon. I didn't know much about the scene at that point and had no opinion on it and listened with interest as these folk told me of the freedom that it allowed them and I reacted with further interest as they boasted about how much money they were making. Some of these folk had subsequently quit their day jobs to write full time. Cool.

A few years later I bumped into several of these guys at another local convention (ConCarolinas). I sat and mainly listened as they spoke, since I was not a self-publisher. They were engaged in shop-talk and, as always, I was keen to listen. One of the guys who had told me that he had quit his day job a couple of years ealier to write full-time...he was not doing so well. His sales had plummeted. As soon as he admitted this fact, all of them coughed up the truth. All of their sales had plummeted. The market was glutted with self-published books. Worse, it was glutted with shitty self-published books. (Of course none of their books were crappy. Oh, no.) One fellow who had walked away from a good job was now desperately seeking minimum-wage employment. Somewhere. Anywhere.

Of course I feel sorry for them. Seriously. I'm not being sarcastic. I can understand the allure of what is touted as instant money. One sees the bragging of a self-published jackass claiming how he or she is a USA Today #1 best selling author, or how he or she is an overnight success or how he or she has hundreds of thousands of fans. It's tempting to try to follow them along. But the fact is that it's a real roll of the dice. And whether your dice are carved of pure ivory or of wormy wood makes no difference.

It is still just a roll of that mean ol' die. Only that die has a million-plus sides, and it has to come up with your number on it. Tough odds.

The good old stuff.

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