Scrolling down the Twitter timeline this week, we came across a link to an article where bestselling author Sue Grafton had much to say about self-publishing. In response to a question about her advice for writers, here’s what she had to say,
Quit worrying about publication and master your craft. If you have a good story to tell and if you write it well, the Universe will come to your aid. Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.
She goes on to say more, even referring to indies as “wannabes.” This got us thinking. Do indies put in less elbow grease than trads?
It would be too easy to write Ms. Grafton off as an out-of-touch elitist whose industry is in desperate need of preservation. Way too easy.
Sue Grafton only shared what many writers, editors, and publishers believe: self-publishing is for the “lazy.” The crew who can’t cut it. The 99% who haven’t honed their craft and earned their place among the ordained by way of one hundred rejection letters and “the Universe.”
But here’s the thing, on top of writing our books, we indie authors hire our own staff, learn the publishing industry, figure out our own distribution, all while researching, marketing, networking, and of course selling our books –much like indie musicians and filmakers. Lazy we are not.
Here’s what we know from our experience:
1. Many indies have had traditional book deals
That’s right. We’ve worked with several indie authors who decided they can do as well or better on their own, especially as it relates to marketing and sales. They tasted having a book deal and chose indie publishing as the better alternative.
2. Indies are aware of the stigma and therefore work very hard
So many authors fear the “lazy” label and criticism that they’re almost obsessive about their book being perfect. Of course we know there is no such thing. But several authors we know–who spent years writing–tirelessly edit and revise their work to ensure its high quality. Most indie authors we’ve known over the years spent a lot of time (and money) with professional copy editors, developmental editors, and writing coaches. We witness the hard work of indies every day and the rewards they reap as a result.
Not every author wants to be Sue Grafton. But most see their book as an investment and reflection of themselves, thus put one hundred percent into making it the success that they define on their own terms.
It seems that by now all authors (both indies and trads) should see that this divide is good for no one. Most writers work hard. The ones who don’t shouldn’t define the ones who do. Simple. When a poorly written traditionally published book gets scathing reviews, no one ever says, “Geez those traditionally published authors should stop finding agents and scoring book deals.” Lazy traditionally published authors don’t define the great ones. It should be the same for indie authors. We’re all authors, doing our best to get our work to readers who will hopefully find it worthy. Some of us succeed. Some of us fail. What we don’t need on top of the trauma of exposing our work to the world, an author who “made it” spewing divisive negativity disguised as advice. How much beating us up before the Graftons of the world move on?
What do you think? Is the divide justified? And are you tired of the traditional versus indie author debate?