Indie publishing and the Impressionists - a parable

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angelisa fontaine-wood

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I don't quite know if this goes here, or anywhere, but this came to me and I thought I'd share, as it was helpful to me. Like many, I am mired in my own preconceived ideas about talent and the idea of trade publishing whereas I'll pbly be going indie sometime this year or next, But then I thought of this:

The Impressionists, you likely know, were all rejected from the Salon, that authoritative institution that made and broke artistic careers - the way the Impressionsits did things hadn't a chance in hell of ever having that imprimatur. So they decided to have their own independent exhibitions (it was Pisarro's idea by the way, from Anarchist principles learned during the Commune). The rest, as they say, is history

Consider my mind changed and greater peace with the idea of going indie in the end.

I hope this also helps anyone hesitating to jump into the Indie fray. You'd be in good company.
 

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I don't quite know if this goes here, or anywhere, but this came to me and I thought I'd share, as it was helpful to me. Like many, I am mired in my own preconceived ideas about talent and the idea of trade publishing whereas I'll pbly be going indie sometime this year or next, But then I thought of this:

The Impressionists, you likely know, were all rejected from the Salon, that authoritative institution that made and broke artistic careers - the way the Impressionsits did things hadn't a chance in hell of ever having that imprimatur. So they decided to have their own independent exhibitions (it was Pisarro's idea by the way, from Anarchist principles learned during the Commune). The rest, as they say, is history

Consider my mind changed and greater peace with the idea of going indie in the end.

I hope this also helps anyone hesitating to jump into the Indie fray. You'd be in good company.
Not sure what you mean by 'indie'. Do you mean self-publishing? Or going with a small independent publisher? There are pages devoted each in these forums. People have had lots of success - and sometimes not had lots of success. Whatever works for your work is legit, as far as I know.
 
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lizmonster

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A lot of people do both self and trade. They're both good paths.

I do want to caution, a bit, against the "the big mean gatekeepers" characterization of trade publishing, although I know that view can be a balm of sorts, and is maybe necessary to survive the journey now and then. But trade publishers aren't "mean," and the only gatekeeping they do is choosing (sometimes poorly) what will make them money.

All publishing began as self-publishing, but it's never been easier and less expensive than it is now, and that's marvelous. As someone both reads and writes self-published books, I would only add that I expect a self-published book to be as polished and well-presented as any trade published book. Self-publishing is an excellent path, but IMHO, if you're going to ask people for money, don't cut corners.
 
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angelisa fontaine-wood

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Yes, I don't mean to portray trade as a big bad meanie, only there to drive us poor strugglng creatives up a wall of despair, I am still a bit starry eyed over trade and given that I will sometime soonish go self publishing, this helped me make that paradigm shift for myself, and I thought it might do the same for someone else. This will be for a collection of shorts. For the novel I still would like to go trade, because I want a pro editor grappling with it to make it the best story possible and I don't have the means to fund that myself for a project of that scale. For shorts I feel like I can guarantee quality control and therefore am less skittish about going the self publishing route.
 

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Yes, I don't mean to portray trade as a big bad meanie, only there to drive us poor strugglng creatives up a wall of despair, I am still a bit starry eyed over trade and given that I will sometime soonish go self publishing, this helped me make that paradigm shift for myself, and I thought it might do the same for someone else.

You're absolutely right about this. Self publishing isn't a "lesser" way to go, it's just a different way. The whole process comes with a set of issues, of course; but so does trade. (Spoiler: they both suffer from the same big problem, which is targeting and finding readers.)

And I know I can't dissuade you from being starry-eyed about trade. Everyone should be starry-eyed about their dreams! But publishers are just businesses, and authors are freelancers. A book deal is just a gig, and more often than not it doesn't lead to much.

No matter how you publish, a writing career involves...writing stuff it's very possible nobody else will ever read. Honestly don't know if it's better to figure that out sooner rather than later.

This will be for a collection of shorts. For the novel I still would like to go trade, because I want a pro editor grappling with it to make it the best story possible and I don't have the means to fund that myself for a project of that scale.

Having an editor was the best part of trade publishing for me. He was amazing, and I learned a great deal. I'm much more confident in the work I'm self-publishing because I had that experience with him.
 

angelisa fontaine-wood

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You're absolutely right about this. Self publishing isn't a "lesser" way to go, it's just a different way. The whole process comes with a set of issues, of course; but so does trade. (Spoiler: they both suffer from the same big problem, which is targeting and finding readers.)

And I know I can't dissuade you from being starry-eyed about trade. Everyone should be starry-eyed about their dreams! But publishers are just businesses, and authors are freelancers. A book deal is just a gig, and more often than not it doesn't lead to much.

No matter how you publish, a writing career involves...writing stuff it's very possible nobody else will ever read. Honestly don't know if it's better to figure that out sooner rather than later.



Having an editor was the best part of trade publishing for me. He was amazing, and I learned a great deal. I'm much more confident in the work I'm self-publishing because I had that experience with him.

I do have some sense of this, I swear, the pitfalls and lures of either way and the difficulty of snagging readers in a world glutted with the written word, much of it for free and even sometimes of quality. Yes, a gig is a gig is a gig (by any other name) and I freelance the rest of my financial existence so this is really not terribly different; It just /feels/ different.

I envy you the relationship with the editor. That must have been a fabulous thing to be able to have someone fully engaged with your story that wants it to be all that it can be and knows how to help it get there. So glad you were able to add some of his skills to your own tool box. So I do aim trade for the novel as I don't think even my wonderful stable of betas could really help me whip a novel into shape.

:)
 

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I envy you the relationship with the editor. That must have been a fabulous thing to be able to have someone fully engaged with your story that wants it to be all that it can be and knows how to help it get there.

He got my work better than my agent ever did. I was lucky, in that I agreed with him about 98% of the time.

I do think a freelance editor is a good idea for self-pub...but having said that, the editor I worked with chose to work on my books, and I'm not sure I'd be as lucky being on the same page as someone freelance. OTOH, I'm currently doing final revisions on a novel I'm self-publishing, and I feel quite isolated and anxious.

Trade was overall a horrific experience for me. I'll probably try again, just because I liked working with an editor, but there's not a lot of other upsides there.
 

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I envy you the relationship with the editor. That must have been a fabulous thing to be able to have someone fully engaged with your story that wants it to be all that it can be and knows how to help it get there. So glad you were able to add some of his skills to your own tool box. So I do aim trade for the novel as I don't think even my wonderful stable of betas could really help me whip a novel into shape.

:)
There are some truly excellent freelance editors available for hire, if that's something you want to try. It's an investment in the book which (depending on sales) may or may not pay off, but it's also an investment in one's own writing skills.
 

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Yes, a gig is a gig is a gig (by any other name) and I freelance the rest of my financial existence
You're ahead of the game then - you probably already have some muscles and scar tissue. I always feel terrible when new people come is all bright-dreams-and-new-self-belief because they finished the book, and now want to know which publisher will be the best one for them (and what's her address please?).

Stick around. For your stories, you'll find heaps of info under Self Publishing. And I look forward to hearing about the novel which will be a whole different journey.

Welcome to AW!
 

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Trade was overall a horrific experience for me. I'll probably try again, just because I liked working with an editor, but there's not a lot of other upsides there.

Is there a thread where you talk about what happened? I don't want to make you rehearse all of that on my account (gd knows you have enough going on right now, as I saw in one of your other threads) but I think this might open my eyes a bit going in. I am really sorry to hear it was so horrible.
 

angelisa fontaine-wood

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You're ahead of the game then - you probably already have some muscles and scar tissue. I always feel terrible when new people come is all bright-dreams-and-new-self-belief because they finished the book, and now want to know which publisher will be the best one for them (and what's her address please?).

Stick around. For your stories, you'll find heaps of info under Self Publishing. And I look forward to hearing about the novel which will be a whole different journey.

Welcome to AW!
Thanks so much for the kind welcome!
 

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Is there a thread where you talk about what happened? I don't want to make you rehearse all of that on my account (gd knows you have enough going on right now, as I saw in one of your other threads) but I think this might open my eyes a bit going in. I am really sorry to hear it was so horrible.

The TL;DR version is this: My work was mis-marketed, my agent did not defend me, my sales were bad, and (so far) my sales history has meant I can't sell another book to a trade publisher.

The main thing I've learned since this happened is it's incredibly common.

A trade deal is not like stepping on to an escalator leading to an ever-steadier writing career. It's just a paycheck. The degree to which you have absolutely no control over what happens is...disorienting.

It's absolutely the best way to give your book a chance to find its readership. There's no equivalent in self-publishing services to the pre-release marketing and overall distribution a trade publisher can access. But the things that can go wrong are legion.

It's often said around here that a bad publishing deal is worse than no publishing deal at all. That's absolutely true. What's also true is that bad publishing deals don't always come from scam publishers or vanity outfits. Bad publishing deals can happen when the usual machine doesn't do the right things for your work - and you can't always see them coming.
 

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