Semi related link added 08/03/2012: Cat Valente’s terrific article discussing publishing
Semi related link, added 5/02/2012: Ewan Morrison’s interesting article exploring the possible consequences of what he calls the ‘selfpublishing e-bubble‘
If one more person sends me an Amanda Hocking link I will scream. Dudes, yeay for Amanda Hocking. Really, her story is great. Kudos to her. But for every Amanda Hocking there are thousands, THOUSANDS, of self published authors out there with zero or negligible sales whose work will never be read by anyone, let alone bought by millions. Putting your work up on Amazon for 99 cents is not a lifetime guarantee for riches. Anymore than is mortgaging your home and risking everything to fund a two year publicity drive for your sixteen year old son’s dragon book (Christopher Paolini) or setting up your own publishing house (Virginia Wolf if I recall correctly)
BTW I happen to like working with my publishers. I love working with my editors – in particular my beloved Allen and Unwin editor Elise Jones and my AUS publisher Erica Wagner. Working with editors has improved my books. They’ve improved the way I write and the way I approach my story telling because they consistently challenge me do more than just sit around patting myself on the back about how awesome I am. My editors work hard, they work for very little money and they generally get very little recognition outside of the tiny circle of those in the know. Yes, the publishing industry is horribly top heavy with scheisters, assholes and bullshit artists, but I am one of those authors who acknowledges the hard work, dedication and improvement that a good editor and a good publisher can put into a novel. I hope there are others out there who are willing to do the same.
(Forgive the recent silence folks. Please know, it’s likely to go on for another few months. I am currently hacking my way through the first round of edits on Resonance. You’d think it would be hell trying to reduce an 174k book to a slimmer size, but its not. I adore this part of the work: when my (always too fat) manuscript has been read by folks I admire and trust and they’ve given me their opinions and I sally forth – machete in hand – and cut, and cut and cut, murdering many darlings as I go. I love the focus this part of the craft demands, the ruthlessness and most of all the clarity. No-one ever believes me, but it truly is my favorite part of writing.)