Scott Sigler Sez It’s Good: Indie Publishing for Aspiring Authors

Greetings, my interwebby minions! How are things out in the intertubes? Sweet ass sweet, I hope.

So just recently I took the advice of a friend of mine and started subscribing to podcasts from the folks at Nerdist.com. What is this “Nerdist” I speak of? Well, friend, Nerdist is a sweet site created by Chris Hardwick, this dude who hosted some dating show on MTV. I’m not so stoked on MTV, but seeing as there’s twenty-thousand pounds of all-things-nerd packed into the site (twenty thousand is actually rounding down, FYI) I can forgive his music television shenanigans.

The bit from Nerdist I’m most stoked about is this super-duper dope interview of author and indie publishing master, Scott Sigler! Hardwick asks the tough questions, by which I mean the questions I’m interested in, about how Sigler got his start. Apparently Mr. Sigler went from unsuccessfully shopping his books around for about nine years before finally giving the publishing industry the finger and releasing his books as serialized podcasts. Since then the guy has become a NYT best seller and has had a story optioned to be a movie. Pretty successful so far, right?

Despite all these bitchin’ little facts about how he’s succeeded in the indie publishing world, I was way more stoked on his advice for aspiring authors. Here’s what he says in an interview from his website, which is pretty much the same thing that he said in the interview:

“There is no blueprint, things are changing too fast. The first piece of advice is get used to the fact that you are in the minor leagues, there is clearly a minor-league system, and in the minors you have to give your content away to build up a following. Be prepared to do that for three to five years before you have enough people to make a difference. It will not happen overnight for you, nor do you want it to, because audience feedback will help shape your storytelling style.

The second piece of advice is that the days of ‘just writing’ are gone. You may hear the old guard talk about how a writer should write, and how they ‘let other people handle those other things.’ Well, that was because these guys signed their publishing deals fifteen, twenty years ago, when there weren’t 500 channels, when there weren’t metroplexes, when video games were nothing like they are today and the internet was basically non-existent. People have so many entertainment choices now, you have to fight for your customers’ time. You have to market AND write, you have to be a businessperson AND an entertainer.

Third and final bit of advice, understand the fact that readers want to connect with the author. Embrace social media, reply to emails, to blog comments, interact with them whenever possible. Don’t be an arrogant douchebag. You are not important. Your work is not important. What’s important is giving people value for the time they spend with their works — write great stories, and be accessible. The days of the author’s ivory tower are long gone.”

Holy crap, I love this for so many reasons. Sometimes I think writers forget that in this age of social media, everyone is accessible. Got a Twitter account? Then you better get used to people directing questions and comments straight at you. Look at /r/ama and you’ll see tons of celebrities willingly answering direct questions from normal schmoes out here in the interwebs because they know that interacting with fans gives you, like, at least twenty-five XP for a fandom level-up.

So my question to all you webby minions is whether you’re down with the indie publishing scene or are you holding out for a “real” book deal? I’m a little on the fence about this thing, mostly because I don’t know which is going to be the best in the long run. I feel like legacy publishers would just as soon give me a kick in the ding-dong as give me some sweet publishing deal, so why not get out there and do this thing on my own?

Oh yeah, and here’s those links again for Nerdist and Scott Sigler. Both of them are wicked awesome and guaranteed to make you better looking.

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Why Self-Publishing Works the Same as Everything Else

Self-publishing is not a magic trick that will make you a million dollars. I wish it was, but it's not.

I read an article from the Guardian this evening about the benefits of self-publishing via e-books and it got me thinking I should do a blog post about it. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the whole self-publishing route that so many authors have been pursuing lately. Despite a whole slew of success stories from the e-book world, literary jerk-offs still snub their noses at anyone who decides to go solo and put their work out on their own. These clowns say that if everyone can put out a book then the book market is going to be flooded with crap and somehow ruin everything that is great about reading. To this, I call “shenanigans!”

Think about it like this: when you buy a $10.00 pair of shoes from Payless you are doing so with the expectation that those shoes are not going to last you all that long. That’s why they’re cheap, right? But let’s say you go to Nordstrom and buy a $100.00 pair of shoes that crumple like tissue paper the first time you wear them. I guarantee you are going to be wicked ticked off because you expected them to last. You paid for them to last.

The book market is guided by the same sort of principle. When people buy a book they are doing so with the hope that the book will meet their expectations of what a book should be. If a book only costs a buck and it’s a decent enough read then they will be more inclined to buy another book like it, possibly even by the same author. However, if the book is trash then they will be less inclined to buy one like it again and thus the author will be less inclined to write one like it again, unless he or she is someone who enjoys failing. You keep this going for a while and you start to see who is doing well–the writers who are still selling books–and who is not–the writers who are going back to their day jobs. The great writers will rise to the top with or without a publishing house as long as they’re willing to work to get there.

So yeah, that’s what I think about that whole deal. But what do you think about it? I’m eager to know, especially if you disagree.

[image sourced here]

Dear Writer, Amazon Is Not Your Friend

I'm glad my wife bought me the regular Kindle, rather than the new Kindle Poison pictured above.

In lieu of a blog update on my novel’s progress (I spent too much time playing Star Wars pinball at the arcade down the street from my house) or an insight into the learning process that occurs in the course of writing (again, Star Wars pinball is to blame), I decided to show you all a link from a guest post by Cat Valente on Charles Stross’s blog. The post details her experience in the publishing industry and explains why she does not see Amazon as the messiah of publishing that so many people claim it is. Sure, she says that Amazon has forced the big publishing houses to rethink how they treat their writers, but Amazon is not the superhero that many people think it is. I mostly like the post because she touches on what so many seem to forget: Amazon, like all corporations, are bound by law to turn a profit. It doesn’t matter how friendly and hip companies like Amazon make themselves out to be, they still exist for the sole purpose of increasing shareholder wealth. That goal to increase shareholder wealth probably played a part in why they cut 5,000 independent titles from their Kindle store recently, and why they’ve opened their own publishing house. I could be wrong, but it’s something to think about.

That’s it for tonight. Be sure to check out Cat Valente’s website here. You can also follow me on twitter @ScottJClemons.

[image sourced from this lovely little blog]