Spotlight Saturday #15: Self-Publishing and Lazy Authors

I give my end-of-week post to other authors and bloggers whose work is worth noting. There are so many excellent articles out there, so many good poems and stories and artwork that I want to use my online space, once a week, to share something you might otherwise miss. To see last week’s episode, click here.

This week’s spotlight is an article analyzing self-publishing, lazy writers, and the writing dream in general by Hugh Howey (I first encounter this on Ryan Lanz’s blog, A Writer’s Path). It’s a masterful look at the difference between our current publishing options, and Mr. Howey certainly knows something of the industry. His books have been New York Times Bestsellers, yet his most recent novel is being released through the typical, indie eBook routes (Amazon, Kobo, iBooks) and CreateSpace.

Which makes sense, based on what he writes:

Self-publishing is the difference between owning and renting. If it seems like self-published authors work harder than other authors, this is merely a function of the reward mechanisms of ownership, rather than the rigors required of one path over the other. Owners of small businesses understand this. Rather than clock out at the end of their shift, they know that if they put in more time, the rewards will stay with them and their family. Anyone who has owned a home understands the allure and thrill of sweat equity. It’s not work when it’s for yourself. Renters are happy to do as little as possible to get by. Why pour sweat into someone else’s bucket?

So often, we glamorize the traditional publishing route, trying to go that way first, if possible, and, by implication, self-publishing is a second-best option. Maybe we just want the affirmation that comes from someone else taking a risk on our novels. Maybe we want someone to hold our hand through the process, directing us to our next task rather than entrepreneurially figuring it out ourselves. Or maybe it’s a quiet myth, a doubt that whispers in our minds: “If this story is any good and you can really write, a big publisher will want it.”

Mr. Howey’s equating traditional publishing with renting turns this all on its head. No one looks at renting as glamorous. It’s a sign of being unsettled, uncommitted, and financially insecure, perhaps, but it hardly compares to owning a house, to having a stake in the place you live in, and to knowing that no one can kick you out (except perhaps the bank). If anything, owning a house is a sign that you’ve made it, that you’re moving up in the world, and that you’ve accomplished something worth having.

And if we look at publishing this way, maybe independent publishing isn’t as bad as we think. Maybe, when we have the online readership, the professional contacts, and the marketing skill to make it work, it’s a sign that we’ve arrived, as artists and professional writers who can take on the competition, carve out our niche, and tell our own story.

Copyright 2015 Andrea Lundgren

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