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Friday 9 May 2014

How Do You Do It?

The basic question for any task, anything that is new and unknown, the knowledge of how to do it is critical, sounds pretty obvious, and it is, but what if the way is confused and deliberately obscured?

This summer, August 18, will be my second anniversary as a published author. That was when Iceline held the front page at Smashwords, Control Escape followed it in the early hours of the following morning.

Finding my way to Smashwords and their distribution system was not straightforward, a chance discovery while searching for a book, and then came the dithering, frequent visits to the site until I took the plunge and signed up. Part of the decision to step into the world of Independent Publishing.

The constantly changing landscape of publishing over the past few years has left old definitions blurred and broken and traps baited with promises and sweet words, tantalising images await the eager and the unwary. 

Now and then I'll pass the time surfing, clicking links to see where they go and what is at the other end, and the results are sometimes intriguing. The link usually travel between sites involved in publishing and writing. 
Traditional publishing is often described as being in a state of chaos, unsettled and in retreat from the battalions of newly liberated authors and publisher advancing across the Internet.

In less than ten years publishing has transformed itself and unlikely alliances have been formed, the oddest bedfellows now snuggle up against the cold winds of change. 

Traditional publishers and Vanity Presses now work hand in hand. David Gaughran at Lets Get Digital catalogues the links and Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware chronicles  the misadventures of one of the biggest vanity publishers, AuthorSolutions. The tales told by disappointed authors are many and varied, and yet there must be a good number for whom the experience has been beneficial. It piqued my curiosity and I began clicking the links, playing a game similar to the six degrees of separation, what intrigued me was how in the face of the scare stories why anyone would choose that route to publication.

The links gave me a clue, seldom did the number reach six before the name of AuthorSolutions or one of its many subsidiaries or partners appeared, often tucked into the copyright notice at the foot of the page, and with an email contact link occupying much of the page above.

www.findyourpublisher.com/indie_book_publishing/ the AuthorSolutions website invites you to step into their parlour and asks the question "But I have to pay to get published." Further investigation revealed the price tag being asked of the hopeful author, inviting the customer to  throw significant wedges of money at their favourite project. The traditional mode of publishing where the agent sells the author to the publisher and the publisher takes the risk has shifted and the new alliances invite the author to take the risk, and when the sales indicate it is worth taking the chance then the self-published author is snapped up.

There is another way, where the independence is real, and the pleasure and challenge of publishing falls on the shoulders of the writer.

Lines and definitions are blurred, but underneath it all, the changes and the  shifting  landscape, independence is alive and kicking. Taking the whole thing on their shoulders are new author/publishers, often working on  a tight budget where the price tag of the vanity publishers steers them  along another track. to me, these are the true independents and exploring how to do it without breaking the bank is part of the challenge

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