One interesting thing about making the shift from traditional to indie publishing is that it changes your perspective on what it means to be “published,” and not in ways that you might expect.
Before I made the shift, I felt as if I were at the base of a giant mountain, where climbing to the top meant getting published and that was all I could see. Sure, I knew there was more to it than getting that first book deal, but I figured I’d learn all about that at some point later–and besides, there’d be people along the way to help me.
Once I started indie publishing, though, my paradigm changed completely. Instead of focusing all my efforts on trying to land that lucky break, I started thinking in ways that were much more concrete and practical, like “how can I build my readership?” “how high (or low) should I price my books?” “how can I improve my ebook formatting?” etc.
All of a sudden, it was as if I were on top of that first mountain, with a whole range of even taller mountains to climb. And while that’s a very daunting place to be, it’s also quite encouraging, because I can see what lies in front of me and figure out what path I want to take.
One of the side effects of all this is that “getting published” is no longer a big deal to me. Whenever I see aspiring writers obsess over getting an agent or a book deal, as if that’s the single greatest thing that could ever happen to them and all their hopes and dreams hang on the balance, I have to stop and scratch my head.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a big deal to get picked up by a major publisher, and kudos to everyone who is. It’s just that that is not and shouldn’t be the end of your publishing journey; it’s only the beginning.
For this reason, I really don’t like the words “published” or “author” anymore. People throw those terms around as if it makes you part of a select elite, one of those godlike beings who lives up in the clouds and periodically descends from On High to grant blessings to all the poor unpublished wastrel folk on the surface. That’s complete and utter BS, and I never ever ever want to buy into it, not for an instant.
The problem is, so many people still do. They still think that there’s some kind of a divide between them and Big Name Authors, like peasants in the face of royalty. They labor endlessly over their manuscripts, terrified that one misplaced comma will forever their chances of fulfilling their hopes and dreams. And whenever anyone tries to tell them that there’s a better way, that it doesn’t have to be like this, they cling to the old paradigm like battered women who refuse to get help–or worse, like religious zealots who dream of being martyrs for their cause.
It used to be that self-published writers were the ones who constantly obsessed about being “published,” but now, I think it’s the exact opposite. Sure, there are crazies in both camps, but it seems that the balance of aspiring professionals–the ones who actually treat writing like a business–are turning to independent self-publishing.
The point is, I don’t like to think of myself as an “author,” or as an ”indie published” whatever; I like to think of myself as an “indie writer”–or better still, just a “writer.” All the other terms are just too misleading and destructive.