In the old days, before becoming an indie author was possible, authors and publishers needed each other. Publishers liked to think that they didn’t really need authors, that we writers would fall all over ourselves and bend over backwards to conform our written works to whatever “hot ticket item” the publishers were pushing at that particular moment in time. Publishers not only believed they did not need us, but they actually had all of the writers convinced of this as well. It’s why writers would sit around silently while editors and agents ripped all of their hard work into shreds and then reassembled it not only into what the publishers believed would pass as a money-making book, but also into a shadow of the book’s formerly written glory.
Thanks to print-on-demand services and vanity presses, these days more than ever, publishers are waking up to the very real fact that authors no long need them for anything. Gone are the days when publishers sent us and our work through the shredder, allowing editors who had failed as writers to go through and reassemble our work into what the publisher thought the readers wanted to buy at the local Barnes and Noble. Gone are the days when authors were made to believe that even after they spent years of their lives hammering out every minor detail of a story, they would still be expected to advertise their own work. As an indie author, we may have to peddle our own wares, but at least we do not have to share in the spoils with anyone other than ourselves. Best of all, it is allowing us to tap into what readers really want to read about and ultimately giving them their hearts’ desire.
It’s a win-win situation for readers and writers alike. Writers are able to keep complete artistic control over their work. Sure they are having to work harder by learning to become better proofreaders, editors, learning how to format PDF documents, designing and creating book covers, coming up with advertising plans and implementing those plans. But in the end, our knowledge base is broadened and we can bask in the glow of having really accomplished something, making our success all the more sweeter for having done the whole project on our own.
In this day of technology, publishers are realizing that authors do not need them. In fact, it is the other way around. Publishing houses are becoming a thing of the past. Authors can now write, format, design book covers, print, market, sale, and implement their own ideas and plans for their novel. Publishers, however, simply cannot exist without authors. While authors can now do everything that publishers and editors are doing, publishing houses are not authors, and without authors submitting their written works, publishing houses may find themselves going the way of the 8-track tape.
The really sad part is that publishers have their heads buried so far in the sand that they are not going to realize that their very livelihoods are in jeopardy until it is too late. They are still demanding that authors allow them control over what storylines make it into print, demand that the novels get rewritten a dozen times, and keep insisting that they, not the authors’ themselves, know more about what the authors’ readers want to read about than the authors.
But that is all perfectly fine, because one day the ostriches will finally come up for air, and when they do, they will realize that books are still being printed and sold and read, only it will be the authors who are in control of the whole project, and it will be the authors, not the publishers, who are making the money and who still have a job at the end of the day.