There is a downside to indie publishing – and it’s not just that the books don’t sell as well as traditionally published books (supposedly). The downside is that in all the efforts at marketing and self-promoting and editing and book cover design and everything else, something gets lost.
Of course, it probably gets lost in any publication endeavor, so perhaps it’s not so much a downside to indie publishing as it’s a downside to publishing and selling books at all. The downside? Writing for the sheer love of it gets lost.
Not that I’ve lost my love of writing, just temporarily misplaced it. I’m sure it’s here somewhere, buried under a stack of income statements and marketing efforts and reports (and even blogging). I swear I spend more time these days thinking about how well my writing is selling–or about how well I’m writing–than I do actually writing.
And the real frustration is that so much time is spent trying to sell what I’m writing with so little return for the effort, that I have to wonder whether or not it’s worth it.
My friend Linda Yezak has encouraged me to not give up on traditional publication (and indeed, I haven’t, as The Lost Scrolls is still to come out next March), because there’s still a stigma attached to indie publishing. A glance at Smashwords earlier confirms this, as the top novels are all basically pornography (I think one had something to do with sex between a step-father and his daughter. Not on my “buy” list, that’s for sure.). This confirms what a lot of people have been saying for a while, that e-books are becoming a slush pile of garbage books that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day, or would swiftly fall from an acquisition editor’s desk into the circular file, with a cursory form letter respectfully declining the offer. Trying to climb on top of that heap is difficult at best, if only because the pile keeps growing as more and more books are added (and some of them are good, many are adequate, and many, many others are crap).
In the face of this, I know I want to recover my sheer love of the story itself. I still want to write, and I have so many stories to tell, but I long for the day when I no longer have to thrust myself into the world of commerce because my time is better spent producing material for others to sell. Sadly, that day may never come. I suppose we’ll see.
But as Joe Konrath has pointed out: this is a marathon, not a sprint. And though “the woods are lovely, dark and deep… I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep.” (Frost, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening).