Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Part II: Who Needs a Legacy Publisher, Anyway?

My post last week about the hedging legacy publishing houses are beginning to show over committing to print editions in author contracts was intended to be a one-off--until I saw a blog post by an aspiring author that motivated me to follow up on it with a second installment.

In the post (I'm keeping it anonymous because I have not contacted the author for permission to publish her name), the writer details her journey: crafting her work, query letters to agents and publishers, discouraging and encouraging rejection responses--the same story all of us have experienced or heard of a thousand times.

She receives a response from what looks to be a legitimate publisher that loves her work. They open a dialog, which initially appears encouraging, then the process bogs down when she has her legal resource review the offered contract and negotiate changes. The two sides begin to pull apart and negotiations break down, and the writer eventually rejects the offer. The details aren't as important as the core issue here (in my opinion).

I think the publishing world we've evolved is inverted now from the one we've seen in the past. The queries--to both agents and publishers--the rejections, the slush pile crushing your work--those are artifacts of the past, the legacy process.

Self-publishing should be the first option now. The go-to. Why should a writer with a well-crafted story spend months or likely years shopping his or her story around, experiencing the heartbreak, frustration, and rejection? What do the legacy houses have to offer anymore--and is it worth the price? In my post last week, I documented the dry-up of the one legitimate service they had to offer: getting your book into one of the few remaining brick-and-mortar bookstores.

"Hybrid" authors like Hugh Howey have turned the legacy process on its head. The reader base has become the new slush pile. Readers are the gatekeepers now. A writer can self-publish his work, and if it's good and gets discovered and the writer has deserved success, the traditional publishers come knock on the author's door expressing interest. Which, by the way, puts the writer at a distinct negotiating advantage.

Every day a story sits unpublished on your hard drive is a day wasted. Every day your work sits under a slush pile is a day lost. Why wait for the publishing house's overworked lackey to read and make a quick decision on your work when you have the the true judges of a story's viability--the readers, thousands of them--ready and willing to pass judgement? If you believe in your work, get it out there take that chance.

You have nothing to lose but time and money. That book could be earning you money as well as feedback. If your stuff is good, it will find a market. And it's something the legacy houses think will sell, they'll come knocking on your door.

Just ask Hugh.

1 comment:

  1. You make a good case, Steve! I'm glad I could provide inspiration. :)