Thanks to that pesky little prankster known as the internet, there's a minor revolution occuring in the publishing industry these days. You can't look at any author's webpage, blog, or tweet history without stumbling headlong into one of many prognostications about the future of print media.
Are traditionally published books a dying breed?
Will ebooks and the immediacy of the digital medium turn all authors to self-publishing?
Can the traditional publishers and self-publishers co-exist in a harmonious and symbiotic relationship of peace, love and grooviness?
While I have an opinion on the matter, it can't be said I have much of a financial interest. I run a free blog with only 12 confessed followers (67 if you count my 68 Facebook followers and subtract me from the list). My only book is a self-published collection of items one can get for free on this blog, and I'm almost one solid year into the first draft of my first novel. Literally speaking, I am a literary nobody. Not even a speedbump, I am a grain of sand on the eight-lane super-highway of the publishing industry.
Not only might I never, I very likely and almost certainly never, will need to kindle a fire in my brain over whether to accept a major traditional publishing deal over going it alone as an indie author. When my novel is finished to my satisfaction and released on Amazon and whatever other digital format I'm able to sufficiently comprehend, I'll be happy if anyone buys it at all.
So, why write? If I'm so convinced an audience won't flock to my digital doorstep, why go through the time-consuming process of writing a book, or even a blog?
Well... It's just... Well, because! That's why.
As interesting as the discussion about the future of publishing might be to a wannabe author like me, I didn't start writing my silly little murder mystery last May because I thought I could make a big splash in the literary world. The book is mine. It's being written first and foremost for me, to prove I can do it, to prove I have the creativity and fortitude to push beyond the self-doubt that for twenty years has buried the idea of this book under excuses.
And the reality is that even if the book does sell reasonably well for a self-published, indie author's first attempt -- even if it blows the designer casing off your Kindle or Nook as it rockets to the top of every digital platform's best seller list -- I still won't make enough money to quit my day job and live in luxury on some private Greek island.
And that's okay. I don't like olives anyway, and I'm pretty sure I'd end up with some variation of skin cancer from over-exposure to the sun.
I have no grand illusions. I don't expect a movie version of my book in the offing (although with a few tweaks it could make for some seriously awful local dinner theater). I don't expect a mass audience to sit up and take notice, or critics to fall over themselves lauding the book's superior qualities, or even for my Mother to like it. It's very likely the F-word appears far too often for her tastes.
The fact of the matter is not every person who writes dreams of being a best-selling author. Some of us simply dream of being authors of finished works. That might put me a rung or twelve lower on the indie author ladder, but so what?
So what if I achieved only 1,300 new words this week on the novel? It's 1,300 more than I had when the week began.
So what if the only people who read my novel are friends and family? Aren't they the people I care about most in this world?
So what if I don't sell a single copy?
I didn't start writing because I had big green dollar signs in my eyes. My vision consisted of a well-told story, with believable characters and a compelling mystery. And, if I'm lucky, the cover art I slap together won't be too cheesy.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler