So my first full week as an indie author, the week my novella is available for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as Smashwords, is also the week that Barry Eisler makes his announcement that he's saying no to a $500k deal from a traditional publisher and is going to self-publish his next novel. A huge turning point, right? A best-selling author saying that this indie thing may not be such a crazy venture afterall. Hooray! Validation!
Except this week was also the week we learned about Amanda Hocking, indie publishing's uber-successful poster girl, and the seven-figure bidding war between traditional publishers to sign her up. Oh, no. The indie standard-bearer ditching the indie life and going traditional. Failure! Un-validation!
All of this has me thinking a couple things. First, I think it's great for both of them. Both moves make a lot of financial sense for each. Eisler has a base of fans already built. Indie success should come easily. I doubt any of them are going to care whether his next book came from a traditional publisher or not. They just care whether or not they can get a copy. He can get the book in their hands faster and keep more of the money for himself. And for Amanda, it's a seven-figure deal. That's crazy money.
But the bigger thing I was thinking was, "Who cares?" I mean, really. I think both stories paint a very interesting picture of where the publishing world is right now. But who cares how someone publishes? We all make our choices. Decide what path is best for us and then pick up our bags and start walking down it.
I made the decision that I was going to give the indie thing a shot. I don't feel better or worse about that decision because of Barry Eisler or Amanda Hocking. I also don't feel like Eisler is some kind of better guy now because he's trying the same thing I am. And I don't feel like Amanda is a worse person for attracting the kind of attention she has from the traditional publishing world. But the reaction of some folks, especially to Eisler's announcement, was one of vindication. And, really, who cares? Walk your path. Walk it as straight as you can, no matter what your final destination is.