Home » Big Publishing, Books in General, Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing » From Novel Publicity & Co. – An Inferiority Complex?

From Novel Publicity & Co. – An Inferiority Complex?

10 August 2012

The Indie Revolution Inferiority Complex, by Lenore Skomal:

“When I moved to Erie, Penn. from the New York metro area, I quickly recognized one thing: my new cityhad an inferiority complex.

“Even though this coastal town has stunning sunsets, affordable and abundant lake front property, low cost of living, an excellent environment for raising kids and could very well be the best kept secret in the country, the people who live here don’t get it. The natives make fun of Erie, slap it around like a used mop and jump at the chance to denigrate it.

“I don’t get it. Where I come from, you’re proud of your hometown, warts and all.

“It didn’t take long for my husband and me to realize that the pervasive putdowns common among the residents went a long way to stigmatize this once bustling manufacturing city. And now, not just the folks who live here believe it, so does everyone else.

“The same thing is well on its way to happening to the independent self-publishing movement.

“Being a newbie to self-publishing (one and a half years), I can clearly see the similarities. The movement already suffers from an inferiority complex. Underlying our rally cry, ‘We are Indie, hear us roar,’ I can’t help but sense the word left unsaid at the end is, “Right?”

Read the rest of the article here.  It’s an interesting take on our Indie view of self:  Novel Publicity & Co.

Contributed by J. R. Barrett



Big Publishing, Books in General, Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing

35 Comments to “From Novel Publicity & Co. – An Inferiority Complex?”

  1. “We are Indie, hear us roar … Right?” Hilarious.

    But there is a reason for the insecurity. So many Indies have blown it for others. Indiscriminate Tweeting every minute, unedited writing given away for free, straw-man reviews, etc. I posted 5 FREE Tips on Book Promotion which assails some of these practices. The bad apples obscure great books like RE McDermott’s soon-to-be-released “Deadly Coast”, Amy Rogers’ “Petroplague” or Joanna Penn’s “Prophecy”.

    There are many great Indies out there, and a lot of noisy wannabes making them hard to find. Ah, democracy.

    The Big 6 are hamstrung by their 20th Century profit model. The wave of consolidations that took them from 100 publishers to 6, left them saddled with M&A debt that must be paid into 2020. They can’t afford to take risks. And they can’t afford not to.

    Peace, Seeley

  2. If you find somewhere wonderful to live and tell everyone how wonderful it is, what do you think happens?

    Everyone wants to move there, house prices explode, traffic becomes insane, crime goes through the roof and everyone who thought it was a wonderful place to live now has to move somewhere else.

    So be careful what you wish for.

    • Good observation – like those lists Forbes publishes about the best places to live…
      But I think her primary focus is the fact that Indie authors do suffer from a major inferiority complex. Which, if it’s true, sometimes causes complications. Not quite sure yet how I feel about the article.

      • Sure, I just think it’s a poor analogy. Indie writers want everyone to discover them so they can raise prices and be swarmed with fans. Few are going to say ‘oh my God, a million people bought my last book at $9.99, I’m going to start a new pseudonym and sell books at $0.99 to get some peace and quiet.’

        • Sorry you think it’s a poor analogy, Edward. I obviously thought it was quite appropriate, which is why I used it when I wrote this. The point behind the post is that writers can be their own worst enemies. As a published author and now an self-published author, I have seen this on both sides of the fence, so to speak. I hope everyone can read the entire blog post.

          • Thanks for stopping by, Lenore. I very much enjoyed the article.

          • I do agree with your point, but I still think it’s a bad analogy. People who run down their town are not ‘their own worst enemies’ if they like that town because it’s a cheap and pleasant place to live.

            For example, the town where I grew up was cheap and pleasant, but everyone said what a nice place it was because they wanted tourists to visit, and as a result so many people have retired there from richer parts of the country that the house my parents bought on a single blue-collar salary would now require a household income of about $150,000. It’s certainly no longer cheap and not very pleasant after so many houses that were previously owned by blue-collar workers have become multiple-occupancy rental homes full of people who can’t afford to buy a house and no longer care about their neighbourhood because they know they won’t be there for long.

            • I understand your point but that’s not really germaine. My point is that Erie-ites, unlike those from your hometown, have a collective inferiority complex even though they don’t need to. Like a lot of writers. Erie natives will privately acknowledge that ‘yeah, it’s a nice place to live,’ but they are the first to make apologies or, worse, agree when out-of-towners poke fun or deride it. I just was pointing out a similarity. Thanks for engaging in the dialogue.

  3. The rest of Lenore’s essay is actually pretty positive. Indie writers are some of the most creative and business savvy people I know, but she’s absolutely right about the self-doubt.

    Ironically, the insecurities hit a friend full-tilt AFTER her indie book hit the NYT List.

    • I don’t normally comment after each comment, but wow, Suzan, that is really interesting.

      • Um, interesting is NOT the word I’d use, Julia. LOL Our families are getting together tomorrow for dinner. I have a feeling I’ll have to take my friend outside and smack some sense into her head while the lasagna is baking.

      • “Impostor Syndrome” is the term I’d be using for a search term in your search engine of choice.

        (Stars know that I’ve got it myself right now… But at least I recognize what it is and can mostly ignore it or only let it out amongst people who know to ignore it…)

    • Oddly enough, I totally understand that–you worry that your next book won’t measure up.

      • In some cases, you worry that your current book doesn’t measure up — that people will start reading it and realize that it was rubbish all along. The feeling of being an impostor is insidious, irrational, and sometimes ineradicable; and anyone can fall prety to it. Kipling once described the feeling he had after his first successful book came out: ‘Lord ha’ mercy, this is none of I.’

        • Unfortunately, you’re very right when it comes to my friend, Tom. DH compared her to Kurt Cobain–perfectly happy in a garage grunge band (indie writer) until Nirvana hit the top of the charts (NYT Bestsellers List). I just hope she doesn’t decide to deal with stress the same way Kurt did.

  4. Here’s a comment that you don’t have to respond to, PG. Pressure’s off now.

  5. I have no idea what this person is talking about, from the self-doubt to the idea of a “movement.”

    I don’t self-publish as a means of expression or as a manifestation of personal identity. I self-publish because it offers me the best way to monetize my love of writing. This is distinct from the fact that the terms of self-publishing offered by KDP and similar platforms actually allow me, for the first time, to consider making a decent living at the thing I love under my own power. That is extraordinary, but it says nothing about politics or identity or feelings of self-worth.

    I can’t help but think, every time I see writers talking about indie movements or whatever: well, I guess it’s not a business to them. All of that stuff is really personal.

    To me that seems like a disadvantage, when running a business, but I guess everyone works differently. It does seem like a lot of time spent away from writing, though.

    • But that’s just it, Genevieve. So many writers, both trad AND indie published, feel it IS personal.

      “OMG, I got a rejection from Big 6/Super Agent! I’m a worthless human being!”
      “OMG, no one’s buying my book on KDP! I’m a worthless human being!”

      There’s really not much difference. (I’d like to point out I don’t believe that weirdness applies to PG or his commenters. I like hanging out here BECAUSE y’all aren’t like that.)

      I’m with you. I’m so happy being able to monetize what I LOVE doing!

      • Right? I guess I kinda feel like if you’re stressed / feeling crappy, you’ll find something to be stressed and feel crappy *about*, no matter what.

        I know that’s, like, a completely unfair generalization…but it’s the vibe, for sure.

      • If you’ve sold 10 books on KDP, there are 10 more consumers of books who know your name than know the name of any “super agent”.

        Quick, name me the Big 4 accounting firms.

        Give me the name of any law firm in the AmLaw 100.

        The average consumer of books doesn’t know the name of any publishing company, save MAYBE Harlequin, any better than the above examples.

        Publishing companies have zero brand awareness to the book buying public and they are ripe for complete disintermediation by Amazon. Amazon will sell you editing services, cover design services, an ISBN, distribute your book, collect the money, and pay your royalties. What purpose does a NY publisher serve? None. They don’t have mindshare in the public. They are invisible middlemen without a brand.

        Amazon will drink the publishers’ milkshake, break the empty glass over their head, and shank them with the shards.

        And we should cheer on Amazon while watching KDP royalties direct deposit into our bank account.

        • “Amazon will drink the publishers’ milkshake, break the empty glass over their head, and shank them with the shards.”

          Just quoted you on my FB page, Jeremy. :-)

    • In terms of ebooks, the deal offered to authors by publishing companies is INSANE.

      Publisher: You write a book and we’ll publish it and split the money.

      Author: So what will you do?

      Publisher: You spend a year writing an entire novel. We will edit the novel, design a cover, give the book an ISBN and list it on Amazon.

      Author: What’s the revenue split?

      Publisher: A very fair 93-7.

      Author: I suppose I can live with giving up 7 percent, afterall, I’m not great with computers and you can convert my book to Kindle format.

      Publisher: HAHAAHA! WE keep 93 percent, you get 7 percent. Payable six months in arears. You should be thrilled we’re willing to work with you.

      Author: *cries*

      • Exactly. Self-publishing offers the best deal, by far. That’s all that’s relevant to me.

      • Self-Publishing Author: …BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA *gasp* AHAHAHAHAHAH *gasp* heeeheeheee *coughing fit*

  6. Is passive guy OK?

    • Yup! Vacation.

    • PG is off enjoying a few days celebrating a fanmily birthday and eating cake (here’s something you should know about me: while I do like children, I like cake more, and would not hesitate to steal it from their sticky little fingers, so I’m really jealous that PG is having cake!) I expect he’ll pop in now and again, but for the most part, some of us who do NOT have cake will be offering up juicy morsels for your entertainment, education, and discussion until the middle of next week or so.

  7. I’ve been to Erie – Grew up just west of there in Ashtabula – it’s a nice city.

    Now that there aren’t as many manufacturing jobs the air and water is clean. So if you want a lake shore city with all the advantages of the Great Lakes and none of the pollution from the 50′s and 60′s…now is the time to buy.

    We could start a writer’s colony there – and take all the business from Manhatten in no time.

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