Somebody asked me what it felt like.
“Like a hypodermic full of adrenaline,” I replied, “shot straight into my heart.”
This was down inSan Diego, the last few days of October, at the World Fantasy Covention. And what we were talking about was the indie e-publishing revolution that’s going on right now.
Frankly, I already feel like I’m coming late to the party. I’m racing to catch up with the people who clued me in on the revolution, writers such as Michael Stackpole, Dean Wesley Smith, Kris Rusch, J. A. Konrath, David Gaughran, etc., etc. Google any of those names and you’ll be quickly steered to their blog pages, at which they’re laying down all sorts of eye-opening information and opinions about the biggest changes in the transmission of the written word since the invention of movable type.
I’m more and more convinced that’s just how big it is. The real advantage of talking about it so much down at World Fantasy Con, both with in-the-know types such as my pal Mike Stackpole and others who were just beginning to hear the buzz, is that it clarified a lot of my own thinking and feelings about this e-publishing thing we’re all looking at now. Before I went down to WFC, I had done a guest posting over at Dean Wesley Smith’s always useful and inspiring blog page, about how exciting I considered the indie e-publishing to be. And now I can already see that I was wrong –
It’s more exciting than that.
That’s what I mean about adrenaline to the heart. At World Fantasy Con, there were no official discussions of e-publishing on any of the panels or events – but it was Topic A everywhere else. And what I saw and heard was veteran writers, who had grown old and tired fighting the traditional print publishing industry, and writers just starting their careers, all of them getting excited about the new possibilities that are opening up for us.
(Well, not everybody, admittedly; there are still plenty of writers, and there very likely always will be, who haven’t heard about these changes or who fear them. The latter is what Mike Stackpole refers to as the “house slave” mentality – and I think he’s exactly right about that. Go read what he has to say about it at his http://www.stormwolf.com blog.)
The phrase I heard the most coming from writers was, “I can’t wait.” Like me, they couldn’t wait to get home from the con, couldn’t wait to get started writing again, couldn’t wait to e-publish more books that they hadn’t been able to squeeze through the increasingly narrow pipeline of the traditional publishing industry, couldn’t wait to connect with their readers in a way we’ve never been able to before.
That’s my first takeaway from all that buzzy talking about the indie e-publishing revolution. It’s not about the money; it’s about the excitement. Yes, it’s great that more and more writers, at all levels of experience, are going to be able to make a living from their writing. But it’s even more important that they’re going to be writing the books they want to write and getting them into the hands of the audience that wants to read them.
My second takeaway is about the money. What else is significant about the e-publishing revolution, IMO, isn’t the number of writers who are going to become millionaires from it, a la Amanda Hocking; it’s the number of writers who will now be able to support themselves from their writing. The traditional publishing industry has largely decided that it can do without its midlist writers; we’ll see if they’re right about that. (My take? They’re not.) In the meantime, the indie e-publishing revolution re-connects the midlisters with their readers. The economics of e-publishing are so intrinsically advantageous that there’s just more money left on the table for the indie writer, who doesn’t have to carry the hideous overhead costs that the traditional print publishing industry does. The indie e-publishing writer doesn’t have to establish a fan base of millions of readers in order to scrape by; a mere ten thousand faithful readers, or even fewer, could support a writer putting out a couple ebooks a year.
Does a couple books a year seem like an awful lot of writing? Yeah, it does – if you have to carry the increasingly dispirited and demoralizing traditional publishing industry around on your back. But when you offload that dead weight, it’s amazing how fast and productive you might become. In my case, it meant launching a whole new thriller series and doing each of the first three books in less than two weeks apiece. How did they turn out? Well, there are plenty of people already saying that my Kim Oh thrillers are some of the best stuff I’ve ever done. You can check them out for yourself here.
And that’s ultimately what I mean by adrenaline and excitement. The third big satori I got from talking with other writers about the indie e-publishing revolution is that we might literally be at the beginning of the real Golden Age of popular fiction. There might never have been a better time for writers than the one that has started now for us. Will we all get rich? No; the world doesn’t work that way. But will we have a better chance of writing what we want and getting it out to our readers than ever before? I think we will.
So now’s the time. Check out those people I recommended, read what they have to say – and get to work.
From Pure Textuality – I want to thank Mr. Jeter for making an appearance here on PureTextuality.com. For more information regarding his work and what he is up to these days, you can visit his website at http://www.kwjeter.com/ You can also catch him on Twitter – @kwjeter