Conniving propagandists and apologists for the establishment always think they are the smartest people on the Internet and can peddle lies. I have yet to meet an author/journalist/broadcaster who could sustain themselves on their pay check alone. That is the dirty little secret the braggers keep to themselves: no one in the business has one job. They must supplement their income teaching, doing PR work, shilling, holding a secret less-bragworthy and/or ethically sketchy second job, or marrying some braggart with money and a superhero delusion who is willing to “save” them by supporting them, honestly believing they are making a shrewd”investment” and will get richer once the purchased spouse “makes it big”. If they are in Canada, there are also piddly welfare checks known as government writing grants.
That alone tells you what a fantasy-enabler publishing is and is a true chaotic sucker circus, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Reading fees are now considered normal. Unpaid interns run places. Contracts completely skew in favour of publishers, many of whom put the financial onus on authors when it comes to having to take a cut with reduced pricing or having to shell out their own money with publicity and things such as having to pay to make book covers. Authors are told flat out not to expect an advance and when the average income is less than a thousand dollars a year, then, hello! the industry has a problem.
But we don’t have #bookssowhite because the Industry is in any way functional or current. It is stuck in the past. Fiction in North America has a single structure and it is Patriarchal where anyone who disagrees with the protagonist is a villain to vanquish. Mature, functional, and progressive it is not. Heroines are written through a misogynisitc lens and if an author dares to object or just proffer an alternative idea, then hello personal attacks, lies, and the threat that “you are burning your bridges in this business!”
Publishers love the system because it is stacked in their favour. Authors endure and eat dung because they got suckered in a greed scam: get a little paper crown that says “Author” and you keep quiet about your measly cash flow and that you shake in your boots if the publisher decides you are getting too full of yourself — but you can’t let go because you get to tell the little people that you’re an author! Take that, flatulent grade seven boy who wouldn’t sit next to you on the school bus!
So that is the real reason self-publishing has a contrived “stigma”: it is the abusive dynamic that you cannot live without the publisher if you demand to be treated with respect or just want to exercise your democratic right to try sometime brave, different, and new. It is a line in the sand used as a threat to keep the scared pigeons in place, nothing more, but few people have the courage call it that.
It is like your grandpa telling you that he’s got your nose and you actually believe him.
Of course, many authors get published by having connections in the business, not because they have talent, meaning they are self-published by proxy. No difference but a little sleight of hand.
I have been in the business my entire adult life and I know about paywalls and how writers lie through their teeth about how much they are making to make their fake friends jealous, not realizing there are people who actually know the pay scale. It is a joke.
It is a business with no imagination, innovation, or creativity: it is all a by-the-numbers assembly line and keep your mouth shut if you want to get published.
In 2013, I had a decision to make: do I want to go with traditional publishers yet again or do I want to have complete control and freedom? After I rejected three publishers with one novel I wrote called The World’s Most Dangerous Woman, I thought I would strike it out on my own with my own publishing studio. I don’t need a middleman for my art, and I don’t need one for my writing, either.
I have not looked back. In less than three years, I have put out over seventy of my books, novellas, short stories, and magazines and have no intentions of slowing down. I write Matriarchal stories where there are different spoilers and surprises depending on which stories you read and in what order you read them. Supporting characters in one series are main characters in others. Stories can be re-read multiple times in different combinations because different things pop out and change meaning, depending on whose perspective you choose to follow. It is a literary jigsaw puzzle, illusion, and magic show rolled into one. While some stories are us versus them, others are us with them.
No publisher on the face of this earth would have given me the freedom to be epic in vision or let me write that kind of ongoing magnum opus. Not one. And the heroines in my story are strong, eccentric, outrageous, and fun. I can write feminista like nobody’s business and have the time of my life doing it.
I had no idea I could do such a thing and if I stuck with the old system, I never would have known, and that tells me everything I need to know.
However, I do have serious issues with the structure of independent eBook publishing, but these days, when iUniverse can give you a better deal than the biggest Canadian publisher could ever hope, that tells you something disturbing.
The stigma of being an independent author shouldn’t be there, but it is because traditional publishing suckers people into accepting the “Royal Taster School of Reading”: your fragile and brainless majesty cannot like or even pick up a book unless someone such as the all-knowing publisher validates your choice first, as if making an independent choice based on your own instincts, curiosity, and tastes is going to kill you. Nice try.
That play-it-safe attitude is not helping anyone who is a reader or author. For a progressive society such as North America, that mindset is antiquated and mimics a confining caste system that keeps people down for no good reason.
Authors need an non-exploitative outlet to release their own works on their own terms that is genuinely profitable to them. There is nothing inherently logical or necessary with the current model of publishing. It does not have to operate that way: it is merely a habit of the publishers’ convenience and authors should be bold enough and self-respecting enough to seek more control, not less.
True independent authors who do not write the same structure as the taken-for-granted patriarchal-there-can-only-be-one-way style are better off putting out their own work because the system is primitive and after all these decades, grossly undeveloped. For those who copy the same format and formula that have been churned out for years and are silly enough to think writing is a get-rich-quick scheme, they are in for the shock of their sheltered and inexperienced lives.
Publishing is not the only robber baron industry: music operates in much the same way, and I always admired Prince for standing up to Warner Bros. and fight for a more equitable bargain. I always said I will not be a desperate chump who swallows horse dung just to make pretend some fake point, and I have lived up to my vow.
But anyone who says publishing is fine the way it is and is fair and equitable to authors either is a publisher who is exploiting their pigeons, is not in the business, or is an author too scared to say ‘enough.’
I know I will not stick with the independent eBook reader venue because it is not without its serious flaws, but I am not going back to the archaic ways of traditional publishers, either. The system is sanctioned insanity that grossly favours one side more than the other and there is no logical reason why any self-respecting, capable, creative, or thinking person would ever agree to it in this day and age.
People can parrot the same lies and personal attacks they wish when confronted with reality, but they get nothing for their temper tantrums except more exploitation. Publishing is in a bad place and as it has no reason to overhaul itself as there are no shortage of suckers gullible enough to take it, but those rebels with true grit ought to make a system that bypasses the old one no matter what. I never shied away from taking on a Goliath: I wrote exposés on journalism while being one, and I have never had trouble accepting reality and facing it honestly. You could not have a worse system for putting out books than we do, and it is about time we got things started to keep the exploiters out of the equations once and for all.