The Great Indie Publishing War of 2013

It all started at Salon, when a writer called John Winters stated that he was a self-publishing failure and also likened self-publishing to masturbation, which naturally did not go down all that well with many indie writers. Never mind that Winters’ novel, a thriller called Murderhouse Blues, is uncommonly expensive for an indie published e-book and appears to have been published only two days before the article went live. Now two days is not a lot of time to decide you’re a failure, though maybe he revamped and republished his book.

At Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig responds to John Winters and points out that self-publishing is not a “get rich quick” scheme and that you probably won’t be successful, if you don’t have some kind of network, platform or social media presence.

Also at Salon, Hugh Howey, one of the big indie success stories, responds and points out how many largely unknown indie writers are nonetheless making decent money and finding success.

Chuck Wendig responds again, this time to Hugh Howey, and says that there is no one true way, but various paths to publishing success (or failure). Being Chuck Wendig, he uses a lot more expletives, though.

After a brief excursion to the Kindleboards, which he did not find too welcoming, Chuck Wendig posts about his adventure there and repeats his points why in his opinion indie is not always the best option for everyone. With this post, he actually lost me, because I have read that thread at Kindleboards (at least at the beginning – it’s a long thread, though Chuck left before I did) and with one or two exceptions, most posters were actually quite welcoming to Chuck, while still pointing out that as far as they were concerned, indie publishing was the best way for them. Which is only to be expected at a forum for self-publishers.

Now Kindleboards can be problematic at times and some posters drive me up the wall with their ultra-commercialist, “I’ll do anything to sell” attitude, as do posters dispensing craft advice that is basically regurgitated (and misunderstood) Strunk & White. Bonus points, if they sell editing services. But that said, Kindleboards is still full of helpful information for the indie writer. You just have to take it, like everything else, with a grain of salt.

Meanwhile, YA writer Susan Kaye Quinn responds to Chuck Wendig and says that she leans towards the philosophy of “indie publishing first” these days, even though there are cases where trad publishing is the better option.

A little bit before the Winters/Wendig/Howey exchange, another SF writer, Charles Stross, posted his reasons why he does not self-publish. In short, he feels that the things his publisher does for him are things he couldn’t do himself or outsource.

Now, Linda Nagata responds in a guest post on Charles Stross’ blog why she decided to self-publish (first backlist and then a new book) and why she feels it’s the best decision for her.

Meanwhile, at the Guardian, which has not exactly been a hotbed of pro-selfpublishing articles in the past, Alison Haverstock lists ten ways that self-publishing has changed the world for the better. This is a surprisingly good and even-handed article, particularly given the sniping and negative attitudes displayed in some of the posts above.

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3 Responses to The Great Indie Publishing War of 2013

  1. Pingback: The latest state of this year’s awards debate | Cora Buhlert

  2. Eli N. Wade says:

    One of the best things about the modern world of publishing is that there is more good stuff available, and it’s easier to get hold of, than ever before. Small press and boutique publishers are springing up everywhere and, along with indie and self-publishers, they’re giving the “big six” more of a run for their money than ever before. I think this is great, as it really does give an outlet for pretty much anything. There are still gatekeepers in the form of all the hard-working editors at those small and boutique presses. Hopefully there’s still control in content from the self-publishers, as they should be employing editors and proof-readers and cover designers to make their work the best it can be. Of course, a lot aren’t and, whether indie, small press or big six, there’s an awful lot of shit out there.

  3. What I want to do, however, is to talk a little more about this “indie first” path — the path that Howey and others feel is the best way forward for new authors. This was also echoed a number of times at the Writer’s Digest East Conference, where I spoke this past weekend. Lots of folks were suddenly presenting self-publishing less as a standalone option and more as the new gate (kept or unkept) leading to traditional publishing. Self-publish first, they say, and get attention and audience. You can even query the published story while it sells on the digital marketplace.

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