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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Indie v.s. Traditional - War of the Words

For anyone who doesn't know - which I imagine is 99% of anyone who doesn't write and publish or is somehow involved in that world - there's been a steadily escalating war between two camps for a while.

In Camp One, which I'll call the Trads, we have the traditionally published authors. Got at least one book deal, might or might not be in print yet, loves traditional publishing with all the validation and trappings that entails.

Over here, in Camp Two, we have the Indies. Self-published, usually through Amazon, often Smashwords, Nook, all the e-friendly stuff. Some of them making big money, most of them not so much, but still slogging away at it.

Some have crossed over, from one camp to another, and been branded traitors, sell-outs, and every other insult two warring groups can come up with.

Lets have a look at what the war is about, shall we?

Indies: I've decided to self-publish. I'm tired of getting rejections/not earning out my advance/simply want control over my cover/story/want to earn more than the percentage traditional publishers give me.
Trads: Indies suck! They have no quality control, can put up as many books as they want as fast as they can write them, and some of them earn more money! EVIL SWINE!!
Indies: You are mind-controlled by the Axis of Evil Publishing. Come, join us, before it's too late, and they start sacrificing your kittens! Also, some of us earn more money than you, nyah-nyah!
Trads: EVIL! EVIL! You have no SOUL!
Indies: MINDLESS! MINDLESS! Here, have a banana.
Trads: AAAARGGHHH!! Bring me the head of Joe Konrath!
Joe: Here, have a banana.

See the problem here is both sides seem to have embraced their method of publishing the way certain religious sects embrace their holy texts. If you aren't doing it my way, you're hell-bound. This is so ultimately and fundamentally stupid that for me, it's gone past interesting into the realms of black comedy.

Traditional publishing undoubtedly works for a number of authors. Nothing wrong with that; the same way self-publishing works for others. There are more than a few combining the two as well. So why, in the name of Stephen King's striped pyjama's are authors - any authors - taking time to throw mud at each other?

Why is it so important to you that someone several thousand miles away chooses to switch to traditional? Why the gasps of horror when a traditional author decides to self-publish? I follow Joe Konrath's blog because the man makes good sense and gives damn good advice on the self-publishing route, and I self-publish. I also follow a couple of traditional agents and writers, because the advice on quality and writing is the same no matter which route you go.

The saddest thing about this little war, which is tip-toeing out of mud-slinging and sneaking into even nastier territory, is that readers don't care.

Readers want books. They want good take-me-out-of-this-crappy-commute stories, or let-me-leave-my-boring-life-for-an-hour-adventure stories. Some of them don't buy Indies, because they think the quality sucks. Some of them only buy Indies, because they like the fact that a lot of those writers push boundaries in a way they couldn't with traditional publishing. They don't care that Author A thinks Author B is a soul-less architect of evil, or that Author B thinks Author A should put their big-boy pants on and take a chance, and why should they? All they care about is that when they open that book, or push the next page button on their e-reader, the story takes them away for how ever long they read for.

Put the mud-pies down and write, guys. That's all your readers want.