Friday, May 18, 2012

Self-Publishing, The Hunger Games, and Selling Out

(Cross-posted from my Author2Author blog post)

What do self-publishing, The Hunger Games, and selling out have in common? A lot more than you might think.

I fully admit it - two years I ago I would have told you self-publishing was for failures (or small churches and historical groups looking to publish their own histories for a limited audience). I would have rolled my eyes and told you that I would never, ever consider self-publishing because traditional publishing was all that mattered.

2012 Megg would like to tell mid-2010 Megg, "You're a sheltered, close-minded idiot."

Self-publishing is a different beast than it was ten years ago. With costs at practically nothing, anyone can slap anything they want up on the web. But here's the kicker:

Those of us that want to succeed will work our asses off to make sure our product is the best we can make it. We will work hard to promote ourselves. We will recognize writing and publishing as two separate businesses, leaving the emotion for the first draft and implementing the business sense on the publishing side.

This is where I think The Hunger Games steps in as a great analogy. Katniss and Peeta taught us that even though we're forced to play a rough game (I think everyone would agree that traditional publishing isn't for the weak), we can find ways around the strict rules. We can find fans (in our case, readers) who will support us. We can win and change the entire game in doing so.

This is what self-publishing has done. The game isn't over, far from it. We're just rewriting the rules and gaining the respect of our readers at the same time.

But sometimes with winning comes change. I won't get into the plot lines of Catching Fire and Mockingjay because I know not everyone on the planet has read them (you should if you haven't). Sometimes an indie gets the notice of the big boys. If traditional publishing comes knocking, should a self-pub give them the finger and move on?


Now some self-pubs might call me a traitor for that. Too bad.

In my viewpoint, moving from self-publishing to traditional publishing isn't a crime. I also don't look at self-publishing as a stepping stone to traditional. I see a new model of publishing emerging.

Authors, like myself, can now weigh the pros and cons of deals and we can decide whether to accept or reject them.

It's not about who holds the power. Moving from self to trad is simply coming to a mutual decision about whether or not an author's work is something that will resonate with a wider audience.

That's it. It's not about who's better than anyone else. It's simply a matter of pure economics and the flavor of the day.

If I was offered the right traditional publishing deal, would I take it? Depends on the terms, really. I'm open to exploring any option. I'm also open to walking away from something that isn't worth it. It isn't my goal to tell people, "Ooooh, I got a trad deal." So what? If the deal isn't worth my time and money (because I'd be giving up a lot in royalties to take a trad deal), then I am okay with walking away.

Publishing is a business that provides people access to a form of entertainment. It is not here to fulfill an author's wildest dreams. The reading public does that. If a reader can escape through your book, then your wildest dreams have been fulfilled. If your only concern is seeing a copy of your book on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, then you're not looking at writing the right way. Writing is a creative outlet for those of us with wild imaginations and good grammar. There simply isn't room for all of us on the shelf at your local bookstore.

And guess what? That's okay too.


  1. I agree with everything you said up there. Oh, and I love The Hunger Games .... but KATNISS SHOULD HAVE GONE WITH GALE DAMMIT! *fangirl sulk*

    Awesome post, by the way. As sheepish as it sounds, I completely agree. Now, time to start working on something so I can be as well-informed and authorly as you are, lol!

  2. Thanks for reaffirming my beliefs about self publishing! My RWA fellow writer Julia Phillips Smith is a complete self publisher. Checked out your publishing house as well thanks to the note on ENT today.
    Great post!

  3. Great post. I was first e-pubbed by a traditional e publisher so when self pub as an Indie author came along I thought why not. The move in another decade will see more of this. More electronic books than paper - save those trees! Also Indie pub puts power back into the author's hands. My YA books couldn't find a 'niche' market as they're nitty gritty and the big 6 publishers aren't willing to invest unless they have a for sure winner - so Indie pub means us authors, who care about the craft and our stories get to showcase them. Thanks.