I'm just bumming around today and decided to fix this post up and share it with you. I can't possibly get all my feelings on publishing down here, and I don't think I need to. And though the topic is almost a cliché, it'll still be interesting to see if, in a few years, I feel the same.
I'm not bitter toward the big publishers. I was never rejected by them, I've never even tried to get through their doors. I just don't think we'd have a good relationship, if you know what I mean.
My personality doesn't take well to pressure. Deadlines, editors, sales; they don't fit me. I'd burn out. E-publishing allows me to write at my own pace, and because I am not accountable to anyone but myself and the reader, I can take a more casual approach and just relax. I'll get the work done. I certainly don't feel like I have to help support a billion dollar industry.
If I tried to publish the traditional route, it would take me years, and still offer no guarantee of success. It doesn't matter how good I think I am. I'm fairly confident in my writing ability, but I don't think I'm lucky enough to get my foot in the door. Luck plays a huge role in traditional publishing, even if it's just having the luck to know the right people, or to come up with a just-clever-enough query letter.
There is luck in e-publishing as well, but it's a different kind of luck. It's a luck I feel I have more control over. I think it's easier to get word of mouth going on the internet than it is to convince a random editor or agent to buy my story. And then, even having gone through the process of traditional publishing, I still have to do all the work I'd have to do in e-publishing. I'll have to edit my manuscript before I send it to an agent or publisher, and I'll have to market the book mostly by myself after it's published.
I'll be under a deadline, not to edit, but to sell. In six months or a year, if my book hasn't sold enough copies to justify its shelf space, my publisher will yank it from the market. My timescale isn't six months. It's twenty+ years. I can wait for readers, but I'm not going to wait for a publisher.
A publisher can get me into bookstores, but at a cost. Books today aren't cheap. I usually don't buy new books because of their high cost. It's more convenient for me to purchase used books, or simply go to the library, so I quickly warmed up to the idea of selling an e-book for 2.99. It's a huge benefit to readers, especially as e-reading grows in popularity. It's something I want to be a part of.
With traditional publishing, much can happen in my life, in the world, and in publishing in the two or three, or more, years it would take my book to hit the market. I could miss reading trends, and much more. I want to be there when change happens, and not sit sidelined as I wait for my book to come out. I like the idea of adjusting midstream when a new technology becomes available. I can't do that if my book is in limbo with a publisher.
E-publishing allows me the freedom I desire. It offers flexibility to do something different, when and how I want. I can listen to readers, and write for them, and for myself—instead of writing for an editor. I want to give readers the best stories I can write, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to gain experience, meet new people, and push myself beyond my comfort zones.
I kind of like the “outsider” label that e-publishing has right now. I enjoy defending it against people who think it's a fad or that self published writers are amateurs. I'm not too impressed by traditional publishing. I'll take 80% royalties over 8% royalties. I like the idea of not having to sign a contract, not having to have an agent and a lawyer, not having to sell my creative soul just so people can see what I write. If a big publisher came to me right now with a million dollar book deal, I don't think I'd take it. I'd be tempted, who wouldn't be? But the contract would just be too much for someone who likes to go his own way in almost everything he does. I like to work outside of systems, and e-publishing is just that.
I'm not afraid to make mistakes, and get my hands dirty in the process. In fact, I'm looking forward to doing just that. I realize that to get my hands dirty means I'll make mistakes, but if I'm not making mistakes then I'm not growing—and I'm certainly not publishing. Mistakes I can fix. I can't fix a missed opportunity.