Living In The Past

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From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Three things happened in quick succession recently, that forced me to write this blog now, not, say, months from now.

First, a writer friend astonished me by saying they have finally gone indie, after being urged to do so for more than a decade. They’ve been unable to sell a book traditionally for that entire decade, but they’ve kept writing.

Only…they’re not really ready to go indie, because they want to pay someone to design the book’s interior for both ebook and for paper. They want to pay someone else to design their cover, and they want to pay yet a third person for marketing.

I’m afraid my hair was on fire as I answered them…as gently as I could…informing them that they could do most if not all of these things on their own. They were looking at a cash outlay per book of a minimum of $5,000—and they wanted to publish a book per month.

I have no idea if this friend is wealthy. I do know that as a start-up, with zero track record outside of nonfiction and short fiction, this person would not earn back the full $60,000 they spend on this plan for years and years. I warned them about scammers, I gave my writer friend links, and I know that I overwhelmed them. But Good-freakin’-God, this person and I had the same conversation in 2012, when doing everything they discussed was a lot harder.

Then I sent them to a service…that went out of business, like every other service. (Except this service did not steal the writer’s IP in the process, like so many others had.)

I know other writer friends are trying to triage with this poor person, but I’m thinking, just let this writer spend the money. They’re actively refusing to learn modern publishing and have actively avoided it for 12 years. It’s not going to matter how much most of us yell; that person will not take the leap into indie.

Then, at lunch, I mentioned an older writer friend of ours, a writer in his eighties who declared fifteen years ago that he was retiring from writing because he was about to hit seventy. He crept into indie publishing with some unpublished backlist titles, then published all of his out-of-print titles and finally, about eight years ago, published a brand-new newly written book.

Yeah, this writer has help, because he’d run a business in the past, so he built a new business (after he retired) that resembles WMG. Someone else handles most of the publishing details, and he has social media folks because he can afford them. (He is wealthy, having had movies made from his work and because he’s a good money manager.)

Lo and behold, this guy, who fifteen years ago said that the words have dried up, has published at least 10 newly written books since that first one eight years ago.

I got a newsletter from him on the same day as I had gotten that other email about the writer who wants to be taken care of. Dean got the same newsletter and we discussed it at lunch.

I mentioned how this eighty-something writer had secretly unretired, and Dean said, “If he had stayed in traditional publishing, he wouldn’t be writing anymore. It’s indie that brought him back to life.”

Completely true. Not only has indie brought his fiction back to life, but he’s doing all kinds of creative marketing things, like limited editions and special editions and fan-favorite editions. He’s participating in bundles and is talking about a Kickstarter, but worries that he lacks the time, because he doesn’t want to take time from his latest novel.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

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