Some blogging authors and self-publishers spend a lot of time waging war on traditional publishers, booksellers, and agents. It’s understandable—and sorely tempting, too, because many denizens of the old order aren’t handling this disruptive, transitional period in their industry with good grace. They’re doing all the sorts of things that desperate people in old, dying regimes always have done in order to cling to their power and perks.
And, of course, it isn’t working—because it can’t work. You just can’t stop the inexorable march of technology and markets—at least, not without employing the nightstick of the law (which may be their last recourse). The old days and old ways are behind us. As always, we can only embrace emerging technological trends or be left behind in the dust bins of history.
So, I understand full well why many self-publishing writers, facing obstinate and unseemly industry resistance, adopt an embattled posture and focus on what’s wrong with traditional (“legacy”) publishers and their diminishing (“dead tree”) products.
However, your friendly neighborhood Vigilante Author would prefer to focus instead on the incredible opportunities opening up to writers, and to readers, as well. Readers now have a vast array of book format options to suit their preferences and convenience. Authors now can make a living by producing and selling a combination of these products, rather than rely on just a few print book editions.
Writers now can also bypass the entire gauntlet established by traditional publishing and bookselling. They no longer have to run their works past hordes of agents, editors, and marketing teams in order to get into print—only to worry then about how clerks will position and place their works on bookstore shelves, and for how long. They no longer have to satisfy the tastes or meet the priorities of anyone except themselves and their readers. And perhaps best of all, they can be assured that their books will never go “out of print.” Ebooks and “print on demand” books always remain “in print,” because they can stay on a computer forever, waiting for the next order from the next customer.
Which means that we authors can achieve the closest thing to immortality that’s possible on earth. Think about it: Our work can endure into the endless future, to be discovered by new generations of readers living centuries or even millennia from today.
Yet this revolution in the technology of book production and distribution shifts back onto us, the authors, full personal responsibility for our work. That responsibility extends from insuring the quality of our writing, to learning the processes of publication and marketing, to meeting challenges that arise along the way.
I know that when I first faced the prospect of self-publishing HUNTER, I felt intimidated. I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know anything about formatting a book or preparing a cover, or how to find people who did know. I didn’t have a clue about how and where to market the book, either. None of us are born with such knowledge.
What propelled me forward were the inspiring examples of people who were doing this successfully. Very successfully. These pioneers had managed to figure it all out, by trial and error. Many were generously sharing their wisdom and experience. I knew that success would take hard work, but I figured that it couldn’t be overwhelming.
All it required was a bit of “vigilante spirit,” and its source: a sense of self-responsibility.
For many writers, though, full self-responsibility is an intimidating prospect. They would prefer to endure the endless delays, humiliations, and pittances generated by the traditional “query-go-round” process, merely to avoid the psychological terrors that they imagine arise from a career based on personal independence.
I want this blog to help diminish their terror, by infusing them with “the vigilante spirit.”
I want them to know that just as they learned how to write, they can also learn how to reach their readers directly, without the need for phalanxes of protective intermediaries.
I want them to realize that they can dispense with legions of guardians and gatekeepers, whose appetite for huge bites of authors’ royalties is insatiable, and whose editorial interference and marketing blunders can be soul-crushing.
I want to inspire writers to take their careers back into their own hands.
And I want them to acquire the confidence that becoming a Vigilante Author is not only possible: