Control Issues

While I’m mostly caught up in the traditional publishing world right now, I keep poking at the idea of doing some self-publishing. It’s the punk rock thing to do these days– except, well, no, it’s gotten to be pretty common. So maybe it’s more just the college-rock-alternative thing. Anyway…

I hesitate in trying it, though, because of the work involved. Self-publishing means not only do you have to write, you also have to be your own editor, copy-editor, publicist, publisher, and cover artist. Or you have to contract those things out. It’s either a lot of work, money, or some combination of both. That’s all a bit intimidating. Something happened recently though that might have edged me a little further toward trying it.

The publisher Angry Robot put up a post Friday, in which they announced today that they’re closing two of their imprints, Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A. I happened to know a few people (hey guys! Sorry…) who had sent books in to Strange Chemistry’s open call. So their work just came bouncing back after a long wait.

That announcement’s a reminder that there is so much about this industry that an author has no control over. You can write a great book, get an agent, get a publisher and then– your imprint is dropped. Your editor transfers/quits/explodes, and the new editor hates your book. Your publisher is bought out by another publisher, and they want to move in a different direction, i.e. they hate your book and aren’t going to do jack to promote it. These are all things I’ve seen happen to people. Well, technically not the one about the editor exploding. But it wouldn’t surprise me.

These are all things that were beyond the authors control. Self publishing, meanwhile, dangles this carrot of control out there. Yes, it’s more work, yes, there are upfront costs, but it’s you, not some corporation, in control of things.

Self-determination is tempting.

Thing is, that concept of self-determination is also some what illusionary. There are still plenty of things that can happen when you self-publish that can yank that control right back out of your hands. You’re still dealing with corporations– Amazon, mostly, and Amazon…

Well, Amazon seems to have its own control issues.

I guess this means that I’m still on the edge of that cliff, staring down at the drop. Considering. In the mean time, write, write, write.

‘Cause no matter which way I go, the words are the only thing I have to take with me.

Well, the words and my dreadful feeling of indecisiveness.


1 Comment

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One response to “Control Issues

  1. blair

    Hey, if I can take the plunge to join SFWA (which you helped talk me into, mind…), you can take a stab at self-publishing. 🙂

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