Today I am going to go off on a little bit of a tangent. I like to keep my blog about my books and me for the most part, but I also know and am approached by a lot of writers. I am always happy to help and I believe in being really transparent about my experiences with publishing. You see this is a business. It isn’t a business that I feel like I am in competition with any other writer, but one where we can all learn from other people’s experiences. Because of this I like to read and pay attention to industry articles. I would also like to say, I don't buy into this who indie vs. traditional mentality. We are all just trying to do what we love and it doesn't matter what roads we take to get there.
When I first started self-publishing the trend was for most industry articles to 1. Ignore self-publishers or 2. Ridicule us. I never let it deter me because I have never sought anyone’s approval in my life, why would I start now. After indies could no longer ignored, the trend moved to villainizing us. We were single-handedly destroying the publishing industry by not following the rules the traditional houses had laid forth. We had the nerve to publish books in genres they had deemed to be dead and make money doing it. Now, I find that it has shifted once again. This time they like to report incorrect information. I read things like 1.8% of self-publishers make over $100,000 (Digital Book World). What are they basing this information on? No one knows, but speaking to my own personal experience I am willing to say they are not basing it on the facts.
Here’s the deal (bear with me, I am a writer. Math really isn’t my strong suit). Let’s say there are 4,000,000 books on Amazon (I am sure the number is higher now this was just a number I heard a couple years ago that made me feel better about my first book being ranked 25,000). In an article by the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/04/amazon-kindle-ebook-sales-indie-publishers) Amazon says that 25% of their top 100 books are self-published. Let’s say that the percentage holds true to all books (though I imagine there are far more indies out there than 25%). That means that 1,000,000 of the books on Amazon are self-published. That would mean that 18,000 indie authors have made over $100,000 in a year (I am assuming that they are talking yearly and not over the course of a career). That would mean that two indie authors in every 100 are making a living (remember that they are probably more indies than this so this number is probably even less according to Digital Book World’s survey.)
Personally it feels like I know a lot of indie authors, but honestly probably not more than 100 who are actively publishing and not just working toward publishing. Not counting myself (though I fit into this 1.8%) I know 18 other authors who are making six figures or over self-publishing. That is at least 18% of the people I know who are making a living at writing (and I don’t know how much everyone makes. It could still be higher.) When I was at the RWA conference in Atlanta last year I was at one of the self-publishing panels and the question was posed to the room about how many of us were supporting ourselves with just writing and about 10-15% of the room held up their hands. No this isn’t a scientific measurement, but it’s real life. I know author who aren’t making a living and I know authors who are. I bet the same goes for traditional writers.
So what is my point in all of this? The point is if you want to publish then publish. If you have your heart set on being traditional then chase it. If you want to be an indie then do it. Don’t let anyone discourage you from living your dream. . I believe that there is a group of people out there who feel threatened by what we do and are trying to dissuade more from joining us. The fact is we aren’t writing to impress editors, agents, or publishers. We are writing for our readers and ourselves. We don’t need anyone’s approval. Write what you want to write, be professional, hire editors, and make your own dreams come true. Writing is the only art form that does not support its indie talent. Musicians aren’t threatened by indie musicians, mainstream actors do independent films, but publish your own book and the world is ending. Don’t let any websites, articles, or publishers convince you that you are not good enough because you don’t fit their mold. There is lots of room for success in this industry.
Prove them wrong with every breath you take and take what you read with a grain of salt