In a post about how e-books are changing the publishing industry, Timothy Hallinan, author of the highly acclaimed Poke Rafferty series, said: “I’m writing two books I don’t even plan to try to sell through the usual channels; they’ll go direct to readers. I have a list of a dozen more I want to write. It feels as though I’ve been cooped up in a small room for years and the walls suddenly fell down. There’s space to swing my arms. I don’t have to reject exciting ideas because they’re not ideas I can sell.”

This is how I feel!

By direct to readers, Tim means self-publishing on Kindle and Smashwords. And he’s talking about the most liberating feeling in the world for a writer—knowing that the story you’re writing can reach readers, even without an agent or publisher.

I have recently experienced this sense of liberation myself. I have a readership, and I know how to publish e-books. I don’t need an agent or a publisher to put a stamp of approval on what I write. I don’t have to worry that my story is too controversial and will “never get past the sales people.” I don’t need to waste months of time querying people who either aren’t interested or don’t respond. I don’t need to wait a year and half for my book to be published. I’m not sure I’ll ever send another manuscript through “the usual channels.”

I still have to write a damn good story, then send it to beta readers, then rewrite and polish until it’s ready. But I know how to do that too. It’s an exciting time to be a novelist.

  1. Uh oh, another writer realizes she don’t need no steenking agents or publishers.

    Writers who have a following as you do and have already published traditionally, are prime material for going the J.A. Konrath way, bypassing the Gatekeepers entirely.

    It’s not the best way to start, however. If one self-pubs first, then she is forever branded as somehow less of an author.

    The big giant huge elephant in the room is the ability to market. Without that, then a DIY writer will forever remain unknown and unloved. Working with a publisher or agent initially can help the shy writer find herself, learn the ropes. It’s like being an apprentice. When the apprentice has learned all they can, then they open shop on their own.

  2. I have always intended to publish traditionally. However, I am a real lefty: meaning, that if I am having trouble getting there one way I will seek another that gets the same job done. It is not that I am at all trying to avoid traditional publication but I do like that the electronic media makes it easier to network with other writers in a limited way and also to make electronic submissions and even to have put some of my work out there for sale where it has at least some chance of being seen and bought while continuing to find traditional publishers. That is not all I have done; I have also figured out that the freelancing world allows me to make some money and prove myself and gain experience writing other things – doing contract writing.

    Meanwhile, in the background, Rush is playing their song that hooked me into their throngs of fans: Limelight, a song all about the difference between being the real thing and what it might look like or how it is presented from the outside by media. I found a version of playing this song this year as I continue my own quest to be who I really am…to follow what I perceived as ‘sound advice’ from the song.

  3. I agree that traditional publishing has been restrictive. I think that restriction came from economic constraints on the publisher. Publishing has always been a few hits to lots of misses and the only way to eliminate the economic risk was an extreme conservative approach. Yes, authors are feeling the liberation of not having to answer to those conservative publishing enclaves, but economics still govern.

    The problem isn’t being “branded” as a self published author, but rather the author never gets a brand. Konrath has a brand, “the self-publish” brand, which he has been cultivating for a couple of years quite successfully. This is why his books sell. Everyone knows who he is, even people who don’t read his type of books.

    Somewhere there is a happy in-between, a sweet spot where the author has freedom, the publisher allows it and readers get what they want and a lot of books get sold as everyone plays off each other’s strengths and needs. I think that is the future and that the self-publishing pendulum will swing back until it is resting somewhere in the middle.

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