e.books and self-publishing: point and counter-point

POINT: Joe Konrath has posted the text of his long and informative, even fascinating discussion about e.books and self-publishing with Barry Eisler. Summary: traditional publishing is dead and the future is indie digital.

COUNTER-POINT: John Scalzi has posted an electronic publishing bingo card, which lifts up the rallying cries of the e.book and self-publishing proponents much the way clay pigeons are lifted up at a trap shoot. Summary: traditional publishing is dead and the future is indie digital, my ass.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Is it me, or is the debate getting stale already?

  2. I don't know what to do, and I'm tired of going over it all, both in my mind and here on my blog.

    There's a supercilious, dismissive tone that some published authors take toward the idea of independent publishing, i.e. you poor innocent, how little you know of the way books are made! However, "you irritate me" does not mean "you are wrong".

    OTOH, there is an exultant, orgiastic tone that some indie authors take toward traditional publishing, i.e. throw off the chains of your servitude, the revolution is here! However, "your vision is all sparkly and beautiful" does not mean "you are right".

    Keep writing, I guess, and face the issue when it becomes real for me and my novel.

  3. Here's my humble opinion. I love traditional publishing and hope it thrives. I have a bookshelf full of hardcovers because if I like a book I buy it at any price. However, the realities of the marketplace mean that the mid-list is shrinking. Publishers and agents are not taking risks on new authors like they used to. With The Soulkeepers, I had an editor at a major writing conference tell me the writing was the best he'd seen at any of the conferences he'd done so far. But as I queried agents I heard the market wasn't broad enough to support a novel like mine (i.e. it would be hard to market.) Indie publishing through an artist collective was the right avenue for me because I knew I had a quality work that would appeal to a specific market niche. But I think someone like yourself would be silly not to try traditional publishing first. Maybe give it six months. But if someone doesn't bite, don't throw that manuscript in a drawer, get it out there and share it with the world.

  4. I'm going at it from a business perspective. At this point, I perceive that traditional publishing offers stuff that I would rather delegate such as professional editing (although I realize that's not always a given), book design, and the formatting for the many types of electronic readers out there. So, I'm querying my novels. Or will start doing so again soon. Someone kick me in the arse, please, so I can get over this whole rejection hangup? :)


  5. @ G.P.: I'm guessing that my current novel WIP would be fairly straightforward to market - the plot is conventional, it's a fairly well defined genre, my writing style isn't bizarre or inaccessible.

    However, I'm not a marketing guy. It has superheros, supervillains, chases, escapes and fight scenes, but it also has adults reaching out to establish emotional connections, surrendering independence for the sake of affection and being in the loving intimacy of a trusted other. Should I market this to men or to women? Or both? I'll have to see what the beta readers say.

    @ Cecilia: All of the other stuff - editing, typesetting, formatting, cover design, etc. - is what the publishing houses provide. Those are the sine qua non of really good books that the "Indie! Indie! Indie!" proponents forget about, or dismiss. One misspelling per 5000 words is enough to leave a lasting taste of schlock in the reader's mouth.

    Oh, and consider your arse kicked. I know you know how to do this.

  6. I'd say that ebooks and self-publishing, except for a chosen few, are not the way to make a living as an author. Yet. I don't think it'll be too long, however, before it is a viable option. (I'm not going to guess how long--6 months? A year? Two years?--I have no clue.) Until then, and likely even after, I think the best route is to do what G.P. suggests: market the book to agents and publishers, and if they don't bite after a set period of time--I'd agree with her time-frame of six months, though each author is different--put it out yourself.

  7. I have to agree with GP on this one. I'm going to query my supernatural YA when the edits are finished - partly because I'm curious to see how far I can get on a traditional path, and partly because I still don't think YA is a big ebook market yet. Considering how many people still buy books, I don't think there's any real harm in still trying the traditional route for the time being.


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