Dang, is this week going to be as busy as last week?
1. Amanda "I'm Not Your Damned Self-Publishing Poster Child" Hocking got a multi-million-dollar deal from one of the Big Six up there in New York City, New York State.
2. Barry Eisler reportedly turned down a $500,000 book deal to self-publish.
3. Brian Keene took public this "Boycott Dorchester" fight.
|Photo from austindailyherald.com|
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the bank. Hocking shopped her next books the traditional/legacy way. (Is 'Legacy Publishing' pejorative? I never know about these things.) And, as she is now a proven commodity, she was a hot auction item.
She was immediately pounced upon by folks who said she was "selling out" and not being "true to herself." (I remember Jerry Garcia, during the "Touch of Grey" nonsense, saying that The Grateful Dead had been trying to sell out for decades, but no one was buying.) Which makes sense. People who can't sell their own work complain about those who "sell out." Hocking, to her great credit, seemed pretty damned honest when she said she signed the deal so that she no longer had to work day and night on promoting and marketing and could instead use much of that time on writing, leaving other business matters to her new publisher.
So, we have the inevitable "Big Publishing is Back" yodelers because a self-published "success" only became a "real success" when she signed a deal with The Big Six. Now, she's a "real" author.
And then there's Barry Eisler. According to a much-discussed blog posting over at Mr. Konrath's blog, Eisler said "Nopers" to a half-million dollar deal from Big Six publisher. He wants to release his books himself, keep the money and the control.
So, we have the inevitable "Big Publishing is Dead" yodelers because a "real" author is turning down mega-bucks to self-publish.
Do these cancel each other out?
Everything is relative. All things being equal, etc. Your mileage may vary. Etc, etc.
Seems to me that a "publishing deal" with someone other than Kinko's or Your Name Here Kindle Publisher helps add some "credibility" to your books, your (ugh) brand.
Awards do this, too. (We talked about that here.)
Recommended by a friend.
Published by a publisher you like or respect.
A book club choice.
A New York Times Number One Bestseller.
Books get credibility from many places.
Amanda Hocking has tons of fans. As they say in The Lost Boys, "Can a billion Chinese be wrong?" She must be worth reading. Barry Eisler had a deal with Big Publishing and sold tons of books. He must be good.
Arguing the Big Publisher vs. Self Publisher in these news items is certainly interesting and can help one spread one's own bias.
The thing is you need, and this is the technical term, you need something. Something that sets you apart. I've said in this space that what you have to do is write a damn good story. That Platform is crap. That Brand is crap. Blah blah blah. Look, everything is crap except the writing. All of it. On Sunday, Joelle blogged about author web sites, which I think we all know are crap. Everything is crap except for the writing. But once you have the story down, the slap-ya-mama awesome story, then you do the web site. Teaser chapter? Yes, please. Then the blog you've spent eleven years on -- Ogre Sculptures and Chimera Talons -- matters to your book.
Someone sent me a link last week to what he called the worst writing advice ever. The author hadn't been published. Not Big Six. Not Kindle. Not 20 copies at Kinko's. In fact, there was no evidence that the author had ever written a novel that anyone had read. Yet, the author had a list of twenty tips every novelist should follow. The sixth tip was that you should go to the library and check out books on writing.
You know what, I've never published a novel, either. Having me offer tips about getting a publishable novel is like having Grammy-Award winner Marc Anthony offer you beauty tips. We have no credibility.
But you know who does? Amanda Hocking. Barry Eisler. They know how to write books. Sell books. Engage a fanbase. The news stories last week would have you believe that they're opponents in some battle over publishing, each changing sides in the same month. Which misses the point.
The point is to write something people want to read. To get that story into people's hands, by recommendations or awards publicity or Big Publishing marketing or cult-like followings. Whatever it is, you have to have that something. But the first something you have to have is still the story. The writing.
And once you get that Big Deal, you'll want to talk to Brian Keene.
By the way:
The DSD Podcasting Machine knocked a couple out of the park, chatting with Seth Harwood and Russel D. McLean about their books. Check that out here.
UPDATE: Nathan Bransford does some calculations on Eisler/Hocking today.