Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why Indie Publishing versus Traditional Publishing?

This was a question often asked of me, while writing "The Zebra Affaire". And I wondered myself-only for a minute-why I didn't feel the necessity to have my work "affirmed" by a factotum from a traditional publishing house. 

I know I sound a tad unkind, that factotum is trying to do their job, but my prejudice against the publishing industry is real world appreciation of how creativity is judged in the commercial marketplace by large corporations. And I feel qualified to do so after three decades in the record industry. 

From those years in the music business, two things are certain: neither pure talent or merit were the guiding criteria when an artist was signed. Now I'm not saying wonderful talented artists were never signed...of course they were, our ears have been delighted through the decades by extraordinary talented and creative individuals. But the ones that got away...or never had an opportunity to be heard...are legend in their volume. And it has now become the role of non-traditional channels such as "The Voice" and "American Idol" to pick-up the smashed dreams of rejected talent, and finally make them whole in reality-show glory. Hallelujah!

1) Bankroll Your Own Dream

In my time new music talent lacked the resources to produce, manufacture, and distribute their work. This I understood. But it stunned me that well-established talent with bountiful success, and the royalty checks to match, refused to take financial control over the entire creative process. They still insisted the record label underwrite all the recording costs--in exchange for the label to be the major shareholder in that recording. As a result many high-profile music stars tugged at the yoke of their label, resenting their servitude, yet oblivious to the fact that they wilfully placed themselves in that position by refusing to bankroll their own dream.

But, the Indie Publishing format that has presented itself in the early 21st Century can be very inexpensive considering an eBook is merely "bits and bytes" and can circumvent the printing press completely. And almost anyone has access to a mature distribution network such as Amazon, iTunes, et al.

2) Time Is Precious

Of course, this does not ensure success, but you can get into the game NOW without squandering years knocking on doors, hoping to be blessed by some assistant's assistant at the traditional publisher. if you embrace the risk and apply time and/or treasure to the task at hand. 

You have the discretion to decide on the amount of funds and time you wish to devote to your creative enterprise (yes, it is indeed an enterprise). As you enjoy some success, you may incrementally invest more in your enterprise. That's solely your decision, and that's how things should be. 

Rather than wasting valuable time lobbying the corporate technocrats to make further marketing dollars available (which if granted, they will add to your mountain of debts, to be repaid from future royalties).  As an Indie Publisher you have control. And I found this to be very liberating.

3) Let the Reader be the Judge, not the Corporate Gatekeeper

As I'm sceptical of the screening process used to evalutate a creative work due to the encumberances that surround it: the vetted litrary agent, the sanctified attorney, the "flavor-of-the-month" producer--it has become more about the talent's access to the required network than their true artistry.

So I've decided not to play the tradtional game and put my art in the hands of the Corporate Gatekeepers--instead I wish to judged by the end-user, the Reader. If they enjoy my work, it comes unvarnished and bullsh*t free. If they don't, I'm sure to learn from the unfiltered experience and hope to do better next time.

4) "The Indie Author Manifesto" by Mark Coker-Founder, Smashwords

Setting aside my ramblings, Mark Coker has published a sophisticated, a timely, " ten point manifesto" that concisely articulates (and validates) the path chosen by the Indie Author. The following is attributed to Mark Coker  in an article he wrote in Huff Post on 04/25/14. The link to the entire article is

So, why not give it a go. Retain your destiny in your own hands. And, if you are successful you may well become the Indie Publisher of other authors with like-minded desire for independence.