The publishing industry has undergone tremendous changes over the years. “Mid-list” writers who relied on decent advances from their publishers have found themselves shut out of the big publishing houses — not through lack of talent, but because they have yet to write a blockbuster. This has led to confusion and disillusionment among many authors who fail to see this as an opportunity.
The bottom line is that as writers our goal is to create a body of work. When we confuse the number of people reading our work with its quality or value, we risk endangering our voice. And when we fail to see our intrinsic power as storytellers, we grow disheartened and stop writing.
I receive emails regularly from authors, both published and unpublished, who have grown disheartened with the industry. It’s become like Hollywood. They are not the bad guys, but it’s important to recognize their function and not interpret their rejection as a lack of validation. When Random House bought Fifty Shades of Grey it was not because they recognized it as a towering achievement in fiction. This is not a comment on the quality of the writing (I haven’t read it), but a statement that quality was not a factor in its sale.
The music business, the movie business, and the publishing business have all changed, and will continue to change. As artists, if we are to survive and flourish, we must educate ourselves and take advantage of the new opportunities afforded us. We must recognize this time for what it is: the most exciting time in history to be an artist! But we must be willing to let go of the old paradigm and recognize our intrinsic power.
In 2010, I published The 90-Day Novel. Had I published it with a traditional publisher I might have received a few thousand dollars as an advance and a paltry 10% of the profits (and more importantly, I can guarantee you that they would have balked at the format which encourages process rather than result). Instead, I started The 90-Day Novel Press and released the book myself, along with two others and a third by Linda Jenkins (The 90-Day Play). As of today The 90-Day Novel has sold over 40,000 copies and continues to sell well.
With the advent of the Internet, it is now possible to take the power into your own hands. You do not need to wait for permission.