Saturday, February 25, 2012
Is It Vain to Indie Publish ebooks or apps?
Recently on an internet thread about self publishing ebooks a fellow illustrator wrote, "If I pay, it's vanity and I'm not that vain."
I thought it might make for a good blog post and create good dialog.
[van-i-tee] Show IPA noun, plural -ties, adjective
noun excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.....something worthless, trivial, or pointless.
So I'll start by asking a few questions:
1. If you're working with a traditional publisher don't you PAY with compromises? When we're asked to make changes that we don't agree with aren't we paying by agreeing?
2. If we accept a manuscript that we feel should have changes but must agree to illustrate "as is" aren't we again paying with more compromises?
3. When we sign a contract that stipulates that if a motion picture is ever produced from the manuscript we are ineligible to receive compensation - even though the movie director might use the illustrations as a spring board....are we paying again? (talk to me sometime about a friend of mine who had to watch the movie art director accept an academy award for the look of the movie which looked exactly like his illustrations - he received no compensation either.)
4. Are we paying when we give up 90% of the book revenues to the publisher?
5. And how much are we paying when we wait sometimes years to see our book finally published? (I have a friend who had to wait 9 years from when her book was first bought....didn't she pay?)
Most things that have value come at a cost...I don't mind paying.
A few more thoughts:
What if J.K. Rowling had stopped submitting her manuscript "Harry Potter and the and the Philosopher’s Stone after being rejected time and time again? Bloomsbury was basically her last chance...what if they had rejected it too? Would she have been vain if she self published it and it took off?
Publishers are often right and often wrong. Large publishers usually help make manuscripts and art better. Publishers overlook niche markets. Publishers find and exploit niche markets. Publishers make dumb decisions. Publishers make smart decisions.
Picasso said everyone is born and artist....are you going to let someone else validate your art with a simple thumbs up or down?
I love working with editors and art directors. I'm saddened that editors don't get their names on the front cover along with the author and illustrator. I have quite a few books where the art director or editor's suggestions, ideas, requests, or changes made a section go from good to great. Having said this we are all human and all make mistakes - even editors. I can't afford to allow my value as an artist to be determined by what one or two other people think about my work. We only get better through hard work - trial and error - success and failure. So why not publish it yourself if you can't sell it it to an editor? The market will let you know if you created something of value.
Publishers have many reasons why they turn down AMAZING manuscripts and artwork. I have heard editors give reasons such as: "Our house already had a book in the same genre scheduled to be published even though we liked the new manuscript better" or "All of the editors loved it but the marketing dept. shot it down" or "Our firm decided to work primarily with established authors and we ended up turning down some amazing work." Should all of this amazing work be forgotten about?
If you wait for the validation of a publisher you might be killing your artist, ideas, and genus that's waiting to be unleashed.
Can you have pride in your work without being vain? I think so. I think we all need to have enough pride to submit our work for publisher review. I think we need to take pride in our work to make it better. Without pride we'll cease to innovate. Without pride we'll stagnate. In order to see success in indie publishing you better have pride in your work - and a lot of it if you want to be noticed.