Pantheacon starts tomorrow. I will, again, not get to go this year. That makes me extremely sad because there are many friends, and even family, who will be going. My reason for not attending is I have just started a new semester to finish out my degree. While I am excited about that, I feel a like a hungry waif with her face pressed up against her computer monitor, gazing at my scores of friends on Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal, Dreamwidth and other venues where I write get to meet each other and attend some pretty wonderful classes at P’Con.
I would like to give a shout out to my sister, godmother of my son, and spiritual Mother, founder of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith, Tamara Siuda a shout out for a very successful Kickstarter campaign for her Ancient Egyptian Book of Days book. She has more than made their goal, but going past the goal with support for a really cool project is always well received. Congratulations to her and I cannot wait!
I have a penchant for reading all things even remotely connected to Ancient Kemet and right now I am very much an enthusiast of putting titles that I already own on my Kindle. Recently, I purchased Jeremy Naydler’s Temple of the Cosmos on Kindle since I liked the hard copy so much. As I opened it up, I noticed that there was a distinct lack of quality in the book. By this I mean, as a reader, I got the short shrift because there were no illustrations as there were in the hard copy. Since the illustrations make up a large part of the book (25 -30 %) the book was rendered absolutely useless without them. Egypt is all about symbolism, especially with a hieroglyphic language and metaphor that is incorporated into the culture. Amazon’s policy is to refund any Kindle book that dissatisfies, no questions asked, within seven days of purchase. Would you believe I had the book on my Kindle Fire for under five minutes?
Most eBook consumers will just shrug and settle. My advice? Don’t. I will be contacting both Jeremy Naydler and Inner Traditions. I think Mr. Naydler is being entirely shafted by his publisher. With the advances in eBook formatting, there is absolutely no reason why a zero sum proposition, such as formatting his current manuscript for digital publishing should ever have been delayed or mishandled. Maybe if I point Mr. Naydler toward some self publishing blogs, such as those of Kathrun Kristine Rusch, Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, he, too will walk away from his publisher. As a book consumer and an avid reader and researcher, I am furious. I am more than willing to purchase every Inner Traditions title that I own in digital format as well because I want the portability. I am not willing to do this if there is such a glaring difference between what is offered in print and what is offered digitally.
This touches on the very sensitive issue of the wide proliferation of PDF files of published books floating around out there, from which the author does not make a dime. As an author and small publisher, I know that this is unethical. Let me more direct: It’s stealing. Conversely, however, if a publisher does not give enough of a damn about either its authors or it’s paying customers to give them a true facsimile of what they have put in hard or soft cover, that publisher, in my view, has absolutely no business representing the author, or bringing their works to the marketplace. Inner Traditions, up until very recently, had some rather vociferous staff members who went as far as to blog their opinion that they hoped that Inner Traditions did not see fit to participate in this “eBook thing”, since it was ultimately killing publishing, books and bookstores as we know them.
This may be true. Technology has a way of making obsolete that which has gone before, or opening up other avenues that the public likes and eventually demands. However, publishers, agents and even writers themselves are ultimately complicit in the demise of their own industry because they have not reacted well enough to the industry wide changes. Books are not obsolete, there are just other ways to get content delivered. The cost of a book in digital format is often priced less than one that is in physical form, however, it should not mean that a consumer should be happy with an altogether inferior product. Because of the tools that are available to the consumer and prosumer markets, and the endless books, blogs, articles and news stories in broadcast media, it is now possible for anyone (and I do mean ANYONE) to put together their own book, movie music video, you name it. With social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr, people can promote their work. With the explosion of crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the creative projects of millions of authors, artists, filmmakers, and musicians has seen the light of day. The publishing industry and its gatekeepers can no longer justify not being able to do what individuals and small groups of people can accomplish. The creatives are ready to take back what was always theirs, eliminating the middle men who would cut into them actually profiting from their own works. The castle has been stormed. The revolution is well under way and there is no turning back now.
That is not to say that anyone can get away from needing the feedback of a good editor or the services of a good cover artist, if you are not too handy with Photoshop, or non-linear editing yourself, for instance. However, the days of absolutely needing an agent or even a publisher are over. With the incentives being offered by online venues such as Amazon.com, or even iBook, why would you put anyone who clearly does not care about their established writers enough to put out a decent digital copy of their extant work in charge of yours? Think about it: What is a better return on investment or return on the sweat equity you undoubtedly put into your creative projects Would you prefer to receive 25% of list price or 70% of list price. Would you like beer money in a check at the end of the year whenever your publisher gets round to sending it to you (less any advances or “costs” they tack on, of course) or would you prefer to get a direct royalty payment that pays your car or house payment or student loan payment or more every 60 days?
Think about that one very carefully and then get back to me. I think I know what most people will choose in the end. I know which one I chose, and it was the one where I get to be the control freak and tell people where to go when it comes to my creative work.
The bottom line in business is really always the bottom line. Pagans and authors who have a good head for business are not necessarily selling out. We watch trends, we are as aware of the mundane as we are of the spiritual. That is what it means to walk between the worlds. You have to keep your head about you, or like doing spiritual battle, you are going to fall on your literal if not magical ass. You have to be smart and think about your resources; the greatest of which is YOU.
Below are some of the best links that I know of for folks who are thinking of going their own way. If you choose to go the traditional route, that is certainly a time honoured way of going about getting into print. If, however, are careful about weighing the pros and cons and want to have more control over the entire process, then some of the listed blogs, websites and books are a great way to get into the game.
The Passive Voice Blog – Passive Guy, an attorney, keeps on top of what the industry is doing both from a business standpoint and often a legal one. Readers of the Passive Voice tend to have some great discussions and are very aware of what is going on.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch – A very successful author across many different fiction and non-fiction genres, Rusch has an excellent insight to indie publishing vs. going within the industry. She and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith easily make their living by writing.
Joe Konrath – Other than Amanda Hocking, this man is the top folks doing it to follow. He and his friend, Barry Eisler debunk many of the myths about epublishing, including the legends surrounding their own successes.
There are many, many more and if I were to list them all, this blog post would be endless. I will hopefully have a page of these links and others to share with folks. In spite of things being scary economically, this is a time where innovation can offer opportunities we have never even imagined before. It’s largely unexplored territory. However, it is the possibility of discovering something that may possibly allow us to carve a life of our own out of that wild and unknown place that holds the most promise.