By now, most any writer on Twitter has heard of #queryfail and the subsequent #agentfail. For those of you reading who have no idea what I'm talking about, #queryfail was a collection of Twitter posts made by literary agents in which they variously railed, joked, complained, and talked about failed queries from writers. Writers shot back with their own Twitter stream: #agentfail, in which they mostly railed and complained about how agents fail the authors who query them.
There have been many, many postmortem articles and blog posts on the matter, and when I come across them I'll generally leave a comment noting that indie authors aren't dependent on agents at all. Following one such comment, on a Guardian UK article, I got the following response:
Could we have a reality check here?
April forgot to mention that self-published and vanity published books don't sell, don't get distributed, don't get reviewed, and don't get recognition. The writer has to take on all sorts of admin and PR duties that should be left to the publisher. It's a waste of money you almost certainly don't have, and time that could be spend reading and writing.
And here's my reply:
1999 called; it wants its attitudes about self-publishing back.
My indie books DO sell.
My indie books are distributed by Amazon, the #1 bookseller in the world. I could also get them stocked by independent brick and mortar booksellers if I wanted to, and in fact have done so in the past, but I've found it's much harder to move those brick-and-mortar store copies than to simply keep selling online.
Anyway, IMO the brick-and-mortar chain bookstore in its current incarnation is an endangered species, and investing heavily in brick-and-mortar distribution is a waste of money for all but the biggest-selling mainstream books. To be clear, yes, I AM saying that it's a waste for MOST mainstream-published books, not just indie books. I blogged about it: Big Chain Bookstore Death Watch.
My books get reviewed on Amazon and elsewhere, and they get recognition in the form of personal recommendations, recommendations on Twitter, blogs, and Facebook, and mentions in publications as well known as The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and The Huffington Post.
Today's indie author is a far cry from the "vanity" author of yesteryear. Today's indie author is an entrepreneur who realizes he's running a business and acts accordingly. It's actually not all that difficult nor expensive to promote yourself and your books in today's web-centric Western culture, but mainstream publishers still seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude, as if the web may yet prove to be a temporary fad.
It's no secret that the publishing industry is dragging its feet when it comes to new technology, and given that new technologies are the best ways to reach and meet readers, authors who have signed with mainstream publishers are actually at a disadvantage when it comes to fully leveraging all that the web and related technologies have to offer. Even if a given mainstream author is willing and able to leverage those technologies himself, he's hamstrung by his publisher, who controls not only his work but his image.
Come, Max. Join us here in 2009.