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25 Hard Truths About Writing

23 January 2013

According to Chuck Wendig

As I write this sentence, 50,000 more books will be released into the world like a herd of stampeding cats. By now, I think the books are actually writing other books in some self-replicating biblio-orgy of books begetting books begetting books. All in a big-ass mash-up of ideas and genres and marketing categories (MIDDLE GRADE SELF-HELP SCI-FI COOKBOOKS will be all the rage in 2014). Between the publishing industry and self-publishing, I think more books are born into the world than actual people (and just wait till one day the books become sentient — man, forget SkyNet, I wanna know what kind of Terminators Amazon is probably already building). Your book is sapling in a very big, very dense forest.

Self-publishing is designed in a way to allow for anything to be published at any time. That’s not to say there are not wonderful self-published books. I’ve read many. And will read many more. But while some will tell you, “cream will rise to the top,” I’ll counter with the reiteration that book discovery is broken. You’re just as likely to discover some great new novel as you are some dude’s (BLEEP!) Tolkien rip-off (“AND THEN THE HARBITS ASSENDED MOUNT DHOOM AND THREW HTE WIDGET OF SARRONG INTO THE SEA”). And until that’s fixed, the mighty morass of the indie-pub world will be ever-present.

Language alert (seriously) if you go to Chuck Wendig to read it all and have a good time.

Guest posted by Barbara Morgenroth

Hat tip: Tracy Dunham

Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing, Writing Advice

80 Comments to “25 Hard Truths About Writing”

  1. I think he has a pretty fair point about book discovery. But I’d counter by saying it’s probably also broken across the gates, they just have people who are paid money to figure out how to make it work anyway.

    That said, my next novel will be called HTE WIDGET OF SARRONG.

    • What he doesn’t mention is that book discovery for tradpub titles is broken, too. How do readers discover new titles from the big five? By the spines of the books on the shelves? Some. Probably not many. If Harper Collins were to put out my next book tomorrow, what exactly would they do, except put it into some Barnes and Noble stores for a few weeks and tell me to create my own fan page?

      • Among other things HarperCollins might do, they certainly would submit ARCs of your books to newspapers, magazines, and websites for review purposes. And reviews increase discovery. They might also get an excerpt published in one of those media outlets.

        Despite the recent review of Alan Sepinwall’s self-pubbed book in the NY Times, newspapers and magazines will not consider reviewing self-published books.

        • The NY Times reviews a teeny tiny percentage of tradpub books. Even fewer books of first-time authors, and only when they’ve achieved a lot of buzz and/or the publisher is pushing the author, hard, to the media. But they don’t push every one. Many they let die on the vine.

          • When did the NY Times become the only periodical that reviews books?

            Granted, most traditional books never get reviewed, but some do. Whereas, with the exception of Sepinwall’s recent book, self-published books never get reviewed by newspapers, magazines, and highly ranked websites, as a matter of policy.

            • I didn’t say self pub gets reviewed in trad media. I mean most tradpub books don’t get reviewed ANYWHERE, just like self pubs, unless the author hires a publicist and busts his/her butt, or the publisher puts weight behind it, which they often will not.

      • I don’t think I’ve browsed in a bookstore once since I became an internet user. It was honestly never any good anyway. I don’t judge books by their cover and I certainly don’t judge them by their blurbs. The internet allows me to connect in many different ways with lots of other people who read the same things I read. I ALWAYS go by word of mouth. Have for at least a decade.

        However, since getting my Kindle Fire, I have actually spent more time browsing titles than I ever have before. Because it’s so easy to sit comfortably at home and scroll through hundreds of titles. And if something catches my eye I can read reviews or google it and get plenty of opinions about it within seconds. Despite the overwhelming amount of titles, I think this is a much better way to achieve discoverability than a bookstore. I’ve taken more chances on books I’ve never heard of before browsing than I had in the last decade or so.

      • Well, I will say that a Harper Collins, Penguin, or Tor symbol stamped on the spine leaves me completely unmoved, but a Baen spaceship-dragon has my fingers moving by reflex to check it out. I don’t like everything they put out, but I like enough that an unknown is worth pulling, reading the blurb, and checking the first page on the strength of the house alone.

        As for discovery, Baen has a habit of pairing their new authors with established authors – so the massive fan following of Ringo, for example, will pick up his book with Michael Z Williamson, and then many will go on to pick up at least one of Williamson’s books to see if they like the rest of his stuff as well as or more than the collaboration. It works well, too, let me tell you.

        I haven’t seen any other house or imprint try that, or really anything else besides an occasional blurb in the back of a book to promote intra-house discovery. Have you seen it among any indie authors?

        • I do cross promotions with other indies. One way is mass giveaways. I pick a genre and put out the call and then compile a list of all the interested authors and their books with links to the product pages at Amazon and author websites and formats the book is available in. And then I host a massive giveaway through my website. Everyone Facebooks and Tweets the contest, including many of the entrants. Last week for my 1-year anniversary promo we gave away over 100 books, across 89 titles. We had over 2,500 entries. Lots of people hungry to read indie work!

    • Well, MY next novel will be called “The Harbit”.

  2. Bartholomew Thockmorton

    The Vassal of the Viscount, Part One: Boldly into the Fray.

  3. Well that’s depressing.

    • Nah. It just means the challenge is ongoing. One of the trade-offs, when technology makes something more accessible, is that it makes it accessible to *everyone*. Music suffers the same problem, and back in the early days of MP3.com discoverability was also a problem. And it still is, but that doesn’t keep people from using YouTube like companies used to use MTV–to showcase their talents and build a following.

      Infrastructures take time to develop, and its the infrastructure around something that makes discovery happen. Self Publishing really broke loose around, what, 2008? That’s only five years. I started a webcomic in ’96 and the really *huge* success stories on that side of the fence (stories that do not include me in any way) didn’t really start getting particular notice till 2001. Five years. That’s about the time the print comic syndicates started bad-mouthing webcomics, too. Funny thing, that.

      So basically Chuck isn’t really saying anything new. We all know self publishing is doable, but there are problems. Chuck is being blunt and saying the problems are not easily dismissed, and I think it’s good for people to be that blunt about it.

  4. LOL!

    He mentions that just reading a lot and writing a lot aren’t enough for success, but I was relieved to see that his end recommendation was: know your industry, then focus on writing.

    Great trip through all the crazy-making thoughts that can plague a writer!

  5. 26. And then there’s the little problem of the increasingly rapid shifting of the meanings attached to words, memes, norms, along with the fact that those meanings are, collectively, both less definite in character and more widely diverse to begin with.

    (I’d be hard-pressed to prove those assertions, it is ‘just my opinion’ derived from my perceptions across the decades.)

  6. You know, we haven’t had a really good dust-up between Chuck and Joe Konrath lately.

    Chuck: The *bleep*ing glass is half empty.

    Joe: Chuck, you *bleep*bleep*er! I’m telling you it’s half *bleep*ing full!

    Chuck: Joe, you’re a *bleep*Bleep*bleep*!

    Joe: Well, *bleep* to you too!

    In the end, the measure of the glass means absolutely nothing. If book discovery was really broken, I wouldn’t have a huge stack of paper books in my TBR pile on the dining room table and I wouldn’t have a hundred files sitting on TBR folder on my Kindle.

    • I have never understood the glass is half-empty/half-full thing. There are many meaningful questions that could be asked about this glass:

      What’s in the glass? (This is first and foremost)
      How did the substance get in the glass?
      Why this glass and not some other glass?
      Who put the glass here?
      Who filled the glass?
      Does the amount vary over time (evaporation)?

      I don’t get it. Why would any ever have an opinion about half full vs. half empty?

      • A very pragmatic friend once said:

        “I don’t care if the glass is half empty or half full. The question is, can I drink it?”


      • Comedian Demetri Martin has a great skit on this very subject. “What if the cup has baby blood in it? Then it would be bad. Unless the baby needs a transfusion and you happen to have a half a cup of baby blood handy, then it’s a good thing.”

        Love that guy.

      • An engineer would say the glass is twice the size you need. 🙂

      • William,

        You forgot “Who paid for the glass?”

        Hell, I’d make that question number one.

      • Why would any ever have an opinion about half full vs. half empty?

        Exactly, my friend. The half-glass/discoverability debate means nothing.

        OTOH, I have a 16 oz. Mason jar glass that has approximately 8 oz. of Pepsi Max sitting next to me. If I add more ice and a splash of Jack Daniels the liquid would reach the 16 oz. line. That’s about the only time I care.

    • Book discoverability is TOTALLY broken! Not enough people are discovering MY books! Thus, it’s broken. QED!

      😉 😀 😉

  7. Have a good time? Indeed?

    Couldn’t this guy have used the time he spent writing this screed to work on his fiction, instead of using it to infuriate others? One thing I agree with is the uselessness of blogs as a way of boosting sales. Unless your blog is killer entertainment, and then, again, why wouldn’t you use that talent and time toward fiction?

  8. I didn’t see anything new. All the same stuff re-hashed.

    Later – I’m going to shoot some zombies.

  9. Suzan

    Yes, the Konrath-Wendig Inde vs. trad shoot-out was pretty epic. Another one would be entertaining to watch but I think those two are done with each other.

    I actually like reading Wendig. I think he has a lot of good writerly advice gleaned from his experience, though he still leans decidedly to the traditional side, which is fine with me. His “Gonzo” style does get a bit tedious about halfway through most of his posts though. May be the reason I’ve never read anything of his.

    About the discoverability issue:

    If Harper Collins were to put out my next book tomorrow, what exactly would they do, except put it into some Barnes and Noble stores for a few weeks and tell me to create my own fan page?

    Exactly. At best you may see a poster in the window and a single stack of books somewhere up front intermingled with the retail nick-nacks and the Nooks no one (apparently) is buying. Is that “presence” better than just another tweet or blog post, of course. Providing you ever get to see it with the big name authors hogging what little (and shrinking) premium space is left in B&N stores?

    I love how discoverability has been dragged out in the recent rash of “trad-pub is still the best” posts. No one will notice your indie book because of the volume now! Howey and Andre are lottery winning, freaks of nature, you’ll never do what they did, so don’t bother trying. Keep querying agents and editors, it’s still your best bet!

    All the sudden we’re supposed to believe that a publisher stamp is a guarantee of sales sucess and always has been. As if now that every writer is a thumbnail on Amazon, the publisher logo on the spine (that you can’t see at all anymore) is supposed to make some big difference?

    As if it ever did?

    • Maybe I’m wrong but I didn’t think his main point was to hype tradpub as much as he was saying how sucky it is to be a writer and earn a living, and that selfpub is just another avenue for pain. Sort of like everything our practical family and friends have “helpfully” told us over the years (assuming those friends and family have potty-mouths – my Grandmother sure did).

      • Larry

        The second half of my post wasn’t an argument against Wendig. I agree with what you said, he’s commenting on writing in general. I actually like Wendig. In small doses.

        If anything I like how he’s incorporated indie as a more viable avenue this past year or so wheras he used to trash it.

        It’s the “you can’t be discovered as an indie” meme that’s getting old. Like, choosing poorly and drinking from the wrong Grail and aging 5 centuries in 5 seconds old.

    • If Harper Collins were to put out my next book tomorrow, what exactly would they do, except put it into some Barnes and Noble stores for a few weeks and tell me to create my own fan page?

      Oh, and just for fun, I went to a SF&F convention. I went to the writing track panels a lot. An audience member asked how to get those “all important” first five-or-so reviews. One panelist — a traditionally published one, whose name and gender I am NOT going to reveal — said, “Friends and family members who do not have your last name.”

      Yeah, tradpub is just so good at getting people the reviews so they don’t have to stoop to friends and family members.

      • You COULD have said hi.

        (I was at WorldCon last year. I went to a LOT of writer track panels. Mostly to be a disruptive innovation.)

        • (But I wasn’t at WorldCon, this year or last! This one was more local. And extremely recently.)

          I was only disruptive on the Self-Publishing 101 panel! “Actually, if you look at the set-up, you make more using Smashwords to publish to B&N, if you are in the 99c bracket for short stories.”

          I am so gonna be on panels next year. Then I can disrupt from the front of the room.

  10. I am about to kill the “book discovery” beast once and for all. There’s never been a more pernicious idea in the narrative industry than “book discovery”. You are about as likely to discover a book as you are to discover a planet.

    • Yay.

    • I discover planets all the time.

      Or did you mean real ones?

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    • The only way I sell books is by people discovering them. My work is swimming in a sea of other authors’ books, and until I get close enough to the surface, the people trolling the waters of the virtual bookshelves at Amazon will never catch me in their nets, let alone see me. In my world it *is* all about discoverability and visibility. Without it, I’m a ghost.

      • I beg to differ. No one discovers your book. People are sold your book. If your book makes an Amazon best seller list or the “also boughts”, that’s because Amazon is actively selling your book. If a friend recommends your book to me, your friend is selling your book for you. When you put your book in a genre category, you are marketing your book to fans of that genre. When you have a nice cover, you are selling your book.

        We all like to believe the myth that the reader is the active agent, seeking out new material, but that is b.s. For the most part, people want to read something new that just like the stuff they read before. Readers, like all other humans are creatures of habit.

        Believing in discovery will induce a learned helplessness that will kill writing careers.

        • Beg all you want, but I stand by my statements. Readers regularly tell me they “found” or “discovered” my work online or through word of mouth. I categorize my book and use keywords so people searching in the genres where I write can “discover” or find my work. So I can be visible for those hunting for new reads. Readers downloaded my book when it had zero reviews and no one recommending it, hoping to “discover” a new talent. You can call any of these things I’ve described whatever you want. I call it discoverability and/or visibility. To be discovered I need to be visible. It’s not a myth. It’s fact.

          • I don’t doubt that people believe that they discovered your work. It is a comforting myth. It just isn’t really true except in the rarest of cases. In one sense, everyone who reads you for the first time “discovers” you. My contention is that the moment of discovery, even though it feels like the thing that matters to the individual reader, isn’t what you need to focus on. For a book to find an audience, it has to be found, but more importantly a decision is made to read your book.

            People aren’t just walking along and trip over your book. They are on Amazon’s site where there are a million other books (actually more than a million). Those people who “discovered” you, “discovered” a whole bunch of other books that day. But they downloaded yours. What you need to know is why they downloaded yours instead of some other book. You can’t ask readers that, they generally don’t know. You have to figure it out.

            Even more important is you have to figure out how to get those readers to sell your book for you through reviews, recommendations, and talking to friends. No book is successful without that.

  11. Well, I’ll say the discoverability issue is something to be considered. I’m not sure if its broken in the trad-pub world. It is for me, but NYBR seems to help sell/hype up plenty of books… and quite a few people are willing to read those books just to read them. I do think something new will come along (besides word of mouth, which is truly the strongest one, and is truly the hardest to harness…) that will mimic word of mouth (with minimal effort) online. I don’t think algorithms (on Amazon, since they’re the best that I’ve seen so far) are all that good… at least not for me. But it seems to work to get your cover on the ‘people who read this also read’ and so forth (as per sales).

    Also the only way to say one works better than the other (indie vs trad pub discovering) is to see the numbers. And overall numbers sold/titles will help. (there might be a more efficient formula, but I can’t think straight). My guess is the limited shelf life of tradpub provides a push for them.

  12. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me like most people that are bemoaning the issue of “discoverability” are looking at it from a trad pub point of view. They seem to think that if they can just be “discovered” then they’ll instantly be rocketed to bestsellerdom and fame and fortune will follow. And they also seem to think that this is the only way to be a successful indie author.

    Which is odd, since there’s so much evidence that this isn’t true. I just read Lindsay Buroker’s 2 year perspective about how slow and steady growth (continually adding to her virtual shelf and making efforts to reach out to her fans) led to milestones like 50,000+ sales and the ability to write full time. And there are countless examples of writers following the slow and steady growth path to success.

    It just seems like some people have been so indoctrinated by traditional publishing’s mindset that they cannot conceive of anything other than the path of suddenly winning the discoverability lottery and they don’t seem to consider anything other than massive fame and fortune to be success. Honestly, I feel sorry for them. I hope they don’t stay trapped in that mindset forever.

    • I agree with you, Sarah. While it’s lovely to dream about instant bestsellership, and it does happen to a rare few. The truth of it for the majority of us unlucky ticket holders is that we need to write and publish, write and publish.

      The difference now is with self-publishing at least we can control when and how fast we do both. Eventually, things can and will reach a tipping point. One year, five years, ten years? Who knows. But I do know this. I’m writing. I’m selling. And I have fans. Not a million of them, but more than if I was waiting to be picked up by a broken trad. publishing system.

      And my income the last three months pays for my coffee. Which keeps me writing. Which buys me more coffee. Which keeps me writing…

    • Two years to reach 50K sales sounds pretty quick from where I’m sitting. I would take that gladly. Considering it takes two-plus years from sale to the shelves in tradpub…

      • Larry

        That’s fantastic! And a great point for being an indie.

        But be careful where you mention it! You might get a lecture from an indie-hater that you’re missing out on better distro as a print author, or better quality control, or the benefits of the “collaborative team”, or…

        • Oh I didn’t mean that I have reached 50K yet. If only. Was referring to the Lindsay Buroker milestone. My novel has been out for six days.

          50k sales two years from now, that would be great. By then I’ll have four more out, at least. So word of mouth may have built by then. Highly possible, but I’m not expecting it.

          • Gotcha, best of luck with everything.

            If it’s inspiring at all (and it should be) the incomparabel Ms. Elle Casey posted here earlier. She has a thread over on KB where she started fresh a year ago and is now writing full time.

            Granted, she wrote over a million words and released thirteen novels this past year…but she’s doing great after only a year.

    • I think Lindsay is a bit of an outlier. Her first novel was selling 300 units a month after a mere 5 months.

      More typical (I think) is the story Dean tells of putting up a half dozen stories (an experiment, at the time) and then discovering he’d sold a half dozen units 6 months later. But he’s making good money now. And his co-teacher, Scott (now making his living at writing), sold one unit of his first novel after 12 months.

      The start can be amazingly small and the growth glacially slow, but still add up to success over time.

      • You’ll have to give me a good reason to consider Lindsay an outlier. To me she appears to be an author who used smart business strategy and tools to reach out to readers to steadily grow her sales and her fanbase. I don’t see any reason why anyone couldn’t have done the same.

        • Lindsay herself says that the main thing that helped/helps her is writing the next book. Next runner up: writing a series and keeping the first book on perma-free. But even she wonders: why was was it The Emperor’s Edge that took off? Why not Encrypted, released at the same time? And why did EE1 take off? She doesn’t really know. Once it took off, she capitalized on it.

          I agree she’s a savvy author who used smart strategy and tactics once she achieved lift-off. But how did her lift-off come to pass? I say she hit a cultural nerve in a subset of readers at the right time with the right material. That’s not something you can plan. Thus my conclusion: outlier.

          Certainly she’s doing everything right to maximize her chances. I admire her. But I don’t think emulating her business strategy will produce her results.

    • Actually, Sarah, I think a lot of indie authors mean “I have this great book out – now why isn’t anyone buying it? Ever? How can readers find me amidst this sea of other titles?”

      Seriously, it’s not waiting for lightning to strike, it’s waiting for a reader, any reader. 😉

      • I think you’ve hit the problem of “discoverability” on the head, Anthea. When an author releases a book & no one buys a copy, can the author be certain the problem is with the writing — or that it can’t be found by any potential readers? Word-of-mouth advertising can’t function without that first person to read it & speak the first word.

        On the other hand, the system of discovery is broken for readers: they can’t find what they want to read without a lot of work. Until someone is willing to sift thru the countless books without reviews or buyers, buy one & offer a useful review, these books will remain undiscovered & unread.

        It would be desirable if software could be used to resolve this problem of discovery for both parties — but I doubt this solution will be soon coming. It’s an Artificial Intelligence problem, & AI has been failing to arrive for something approaching 20 years now.

      • Well, I guess if you publish a book and NO ONE is buying it, you’re probably doing something wrong. I don’t think “marketing” is necessary, unless finding ways to reach out to readers is considered “marketing”. I do think you have to put yourself out there a bit if you want people to find you.

  13. Seemingly O/T, but maybe not so much, the idea of

    “Attention Trusts”:

    “…But what about this whole idea of mobility, as mentioned on the AttentionTrust.org site? What’s the benefit of making this stuff mobile? Dave Winer provides a nice example: suppose you could share your Netflix attention data with a dating site such as Match.com, so you could find possible partners who like the same movies as you? For that sort of thing to be possible, you’d need to be able to get your attention data back from any service which collects it. (As an aside, this also means you could share your Netflix queue with any new DVD rental service that comes down the pike – so my guess is that smaller, up-and-coming sites will be more willing to share attention data than the more entrenched sites will.)…”

    taken from:http://nick.typepad.com/blog/2005/08/attentiontrusto.html

    Now apparently, the idea didn’t get off the ground that time… at least, the attentiontrust.org site doesn’t answer.

    But answering the attention trust issue would be in part to answer the issue raised on the above issue.

  14. I would add #26: Staying productive is often a matter of being able to wrangle depression/frustration into subservience to the process of creation. Not always so easy.

    Or as E.B. White said, “Writing is hard work and bad for the health.”

  15. Discoverability is broken?
    And when was it actually working? The 19th Century? Melville would disagree. The 18th?
    All the talk of “discoverability” assumes readers are sheep that couldn’t tell a good book from a bad one if you hit them on the head with one.
    Granted *some* people will buy anything promoted by a certain talk show host or a certain listing of “popular” books.
    But most people are careful how they spend their hard-earned money and they can tell junk a mile away. Readers above the age of, say 12, know what they like and quickly develop a personal strategy for finding content that suits them. Starting with identifying the genres and sub-genres they like.
    It doesn’t matter how many total books get published because what they will be looking for will reside in only one corner of the shelves. If you don’t read romance novels it doesn’t matter how many come out; you won’t look at them to start with.
    On the other hand, if you’re a romance novel reader (like my mother) you’ll know what a Regency romance is and what makes for a good one. Or a Christian Romance or a Paranormal one.
    The same for Mysteries, Fantasies, Science Fiction, and even (oddly enough) lit-fic.

    Most avid readers are experienced consumers of books. (like, duh, right? Do something enough and you figure out what works for you.)
    We learn to judge blurbs and promos, match them to the covers, and even (gasp!) read the provided samples. They know what *they* like and how to find it.

    It’s part and parcel of life in a modern consumerist society; there is *always* somebody trying to sell us junk.
    Starting with traditional publishers shipping out orphan titles or three-chapter specials or poorly-edited crap. A critical consumer always starts with: “What’s the catch? What’s the hidden agenda?”

    The whole discoverability thing is just another boogieman trying to scare readers away from self-pubs and authors back into the gate-kept corral like meek little sheep.

    Writing has never been easy and quality has never automatically risen to the top. It has *always* been a crap-shoot.
    It’s tough and unfair, yes. So what?
    Life is tough.
    And then you die.

    The only thing that matters is making the most of what you get: Time, talent, friends, family…

    • Melville enjoyed considerable success at the beginning of his career. The failure of Moby Dick doesn’t represent his entire career:

      “His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first, Typee, became a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime.”

      “The whole discoverability thing is just another boogieman trying to scare readers away from self-pubs and authors back into the gate-kept corral like meek little sheep.”

      Too many self-published writers suffer from a persecution complex. Discoverability has nothing to do with the BIG BAD 6 trying to convince you from publishing yourself. The only self-published books trad publishers care about are the ones that sell well enough to attract an offer from a trad publisher. Traditional publishers couldn’t care less about the gazillion ebooks sitting on Amazon’s servers that don’t move the needle.

      • As far as *I* am concerned, the issue isn’t traditionalist versus self-pub, but traditionalists versus *readers*.
        The legacy publishers and BPHs talk as if readers are a bunch of brainless sheep that need to be led by the nose to be sheared; that we can’t figure out how to spend our money wisely without gatekeepers and reviewers telling us what to buy. That we won’t notice scams like the Price Fix Conspiracy or Sargent’s three card monte move.

        I. Disagree.

        Your mileage may vary.

        But me, I can walk and chew skittles at the same time and I can easily discover good reads without gatekeepers or endorsers.

        The ebook evolution isn’t *just* about writers and publishers, folks.

        We readers have a say in it, too.
        “Just sayin’.” 😉

  16. Wendig’s piece is a classic. Thanks for posting it, Barbara. Wendig is a very amusing writer. Thanks for introducing me to his writing.

  17. What I got from the article is a truth that so many people dismiss, which is that neither system, trad or self publishing is perfect. Both have flaws, advantages and disadvantages. Yet despite this, too many writers jump on one side or the other, either saying self-publishing is worthless or for losers, or trad publishing is tantamount to getting mugged. Neither is true. What we now have is a choice and those authors I respect the most when they discuss the industry, are those that embrace both systems. It is not an either or situation. Some people have success trad publishing, some have success self-publishing, some have success doing both. Only a fool would dismiss one or the other publishing option as by doing so you are limiting yourself. An unsuccessful trad published author may find self publishing their next novel brings better success, while vice versa could also be true. I don’t think self published authors should rule out the traditional route for certain books, nor do I think traditional published authors should rule out self-publishing. Horse for courses.

  18. I got sidetracked at the description of stampeding cats. His exaggerative style is so fun, haha, and I’m an easily distracted person.

    In all seriousness, though, I need to work on #25 more. I spend too much time reading publishing industry blogs and not nearly enough time writing.

  19. We will know book discovery is broken when people stop buying them.

    • Exactly!
      Readers don’t have a discoverability problem
      Writers have a *visibility* problem.
      Publishers have a *marketting* problem. (Starting with the fact they rarely do it.)

      But readers don’t have problems finding content at all. There’s plenty of good stuff all over.

      Pretending there is a discoverability problem is just projecting onto others your own problems instead of looking for things *you* can do about them.

      ” ‘Hope’ is sitting around, doing nothing, waiting for somebody else to fix your problem.” Geoff Johns.

  20. My next book will be titled “Book Discovery” (finally, some sales). It’s the biggest mystery out there and the most contentious if you believe Wendig’s hilarious post and these retorts.

    Not so sure I agree with Felix about readers not having a discoverability problem. I’m often asked by friends for reading suggestions (oblivious to the fact I’m hawking three well-written books of my own, but I guess most are above reading YA!). It’s clear that many of them have no good idea–outside a bookstore—how to find books they’d like to read, books that would specifically fit their tastes.

    I recently watched a well-educated teacher pal search her Kindle for nearly half an hour, looking for something suitable for her book club. She was bamboozled by all the choices and long past listening to me. I could almost empathize with her dilemma: Too. Many. Books. (And been burned too many times.)

    • This! This! THIS! I’m one of those readers who still has a hard time finding what I like. My primary strategy these days? Re-read Bujold, Willis, Hambly, McKinley, Moon, Brust, Heyer, Herriot, Sayers, Diana Wynne Jones. Rinse and repeat! But I’d like some new reads. I’m beginning to explore the indie world from a reader’s perspective, but find it dizzying.

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