Chatting with Shannon Mayer

I was shocked when I read Shannon Mayer’s blog post about quiting her agent and going indie – not shocked by the act itself, but the information she divulged about traditional publishers.
Me: Hey Shannon, could you please tell us the inside scoop about what’s going on in the publishing industry, from a writer’s pov?

Shannon Mayer: The industry is changing so fast Anne, that by the time this blog post goes up, it could have turned us on our heads once more. But here’s what I know. Agents are getting out of the agenting business, they are setting their clients loose to pursue self publishing because they CAN’T compete.

I mean, if you knew that a Traditional Publishing House (TPH) was only going to give you an advance of $2500 IF it was a really good day, then they would only give you a print run of 6-8k which isn’t even enough books to “pay out” your advance, and now you’re labelled as a “bad selling” author, would YOU do it? If you knew that you could Self Publish (SP) as an Indie Author, make the same $2500 and then some without having to wait to see your book on the virtual shelves, PLUS have complete control over how your book is presented, what is there stopping you? Fear? Yes, I think that is the biggest drawback to being an author, we want validation that we are good enough. I say, let the readers decide what is good and what isn’t.
Agents will be squeezed out by the trends that are happening right now, that is my opinion. They are no longer needed. Authors can self publish and when they do well enough, the TPH will come to them with a deal, no agent involved. There are lots of blogs out there right now that explain how the agents are no longer the gatekeepers to the publishing industry, its a fascinating trend. And really, it only benfits authors.
Me: Self-publishing is amazing, but so many authors out there are badly representing the trend by not having professional editing done on their manuscripts, publishing its first or second draft, promotting themselves as amateurs by having friends rate 5 stars when obviously, the work isn’t. Don’t you think that bad apples will rot the barrel?
Shannon Mayer: It’s like any business. Those that don’t treat it with respect, WILL be weeded out. Even if they have their friends 5 star for them, readers who don’t know them will star their work appropriately. The down side is then the readers may think that ALL indies are so sloppy with their work.
Do I think they will rot out the system? No, but I do think there needs to be a way to SHOW readers who is taking a responsible view of the industry. I wrote a post about dividing Amazon into edited and un-edited Indies for this very reason. Those who take the longer, more difficult road shouldn’t be put in the same barrel as the rotten apples. 🙂 In my opinon.Me: So you do believe there should be a structure for Indie writers? Other than having different categories on Amazon, have you thought of other ways for those who put in the work can get recognition?Shannon Mayer: I think structure would be very good. I think its fabulous that anyone can now publish a book relatively easily, that’s great. BUT, as you pointed out, there are a number of bad apples out there. Okay, more than a number. And the biggest complaint I hear from readers is that the indie authors have books that are riddled with typos, bad grammar, POV shifts, plot arcs that go nowhere, and so on. They aren’t ALL like that, I’ve seen a few that are very well written and obviously have had a lot of care and time put into them.

I think one way might be that when people review a book, there could be a spots where you would star them. Quality of work, Engaging, Satisfaction with story, Unique plot and such. Then, if a book maybe has some poor editing, but is still a unique plot with a story that pulls you along, you might be willing to try that. Some people don’t care about typos, others hate them. If the rating system was broken down, you could easily see where the writers strong points are and judge whether it was worth your time or not.

Me: Famous last words?
Shannon Mayer: Hmm. Famous last words? This isn’t the end of the shift in the publishing world. We, as authors, need to be on top of the changes that keep coming our way, just look at the KDP Select through Amazon and the hububb around that.

It IS a great time to be an author, we just need to remember that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier of a road. Getting published, whether you go with a TPH or SP takes dedication, hard work and most of all, good, clean writing.

Shannon Mayer blogs and writes and tweets @TheShannonMayer

About Anne Michaud

Author of Dark Tendency View all posts by Anne Michaud

14 responses to “Chatting with Shannon Mayer

  • Kaitlin

    Wow – great post! This is interesting insight Thanks!

  • Colin Barnes

    Interesting interview. I’m hearing this almost on a daily basis now, even from some agents. It seems the traditional approach will eventually only be viable for the top few percentage ‘big name’ authors already established.

  • Marianne Su

    Technology changes media. Radio changed the newspaper industry. TV changed radio. It was inevitable that e-books would change publishing, the question is how much and in what way. This post helps steer us in the way toward answers. Thanks for the very interesting post, Anne.

  • T. James

    Thanks Anne and Shannon, this was really informative – a no nonsense this-is-how-it-is heads up.

    As a newbie to the world of writing last Feb. when I looked at self-pub it all seemed so much better. No waiting around, better %ages, control of your own distribution and pricing, artistic control of the cover…

    I’m not saying I wouldn’t accept a publisher’s offer, but the indie route has a lot of appeal…

  • Shannon Mayer (@TheShannonMayer)

    Thanks Anne for having me on your blog, loved the straight up questions! Can’t wait to see what the next year brings us in terms of the publishing world, should be an interesting ride! ;p

  • Anita Howard

    Shannon and Anne, excellent insights from an obviously savvy author. Thank you so much! I agree, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens over the next year or so.

  • Painkillers

    Yup. Agents ‘telling’ authors to self-publish is a new trend. Gotta stay on our toes though, be flexible, and keep our options open.

    Shame about the Ivory Towers though, I would have like me one of them.

  • Angela Addams

    Hmmm, it’s interesting that this topic has been surfacing in my circles more lately.

    At the moment my dream is to be published with one of the big guys…via my agent. But I am finding the arguments for self-publishing to be very, very enticing as of late.

  • Tymothy Longoria

    “Getting published, whether you go with a TPH or SP takes dedication, hard work and most of all, good, clean writing.”

    INDEED. No matter the road we take…the work must be done.

    Pst…Shannon…I’m watching you…


  • D. D. Syrdal

    Lots to think about, that’s for sure. I’d like to see some stats on how many self-pubbed authors actually make that kind of money. I see so many on Twitter basically begging (and when that doesn’t work, abusing with rants) followers to buy their books because they can’t sell them… Interesting times.

  • Matthew

    Those simple statements are exactly why I chose to go the self-publish route. Also Borders closing was another big component. Publishers traditionally would get you into book stores. But the reality now is that the indie stores can’t buy let alone continually stock all the new and mid-list works, and Barnes & Noble can’t either. B&N churns its stock fairly frequently. After that, it’s sold only online. And one can do that themselves – as well as the promotion that would have been their responsibility in a typical trad-pub situation for most people.

    I sort of like having a bit more control over the covers. Even a lot of traditional-published covers are not exactly the greatest.

    I definitely agree with the comments about quality and editing. And even though editing is pretty much hit-and-miss in traditional publishing, it does fix most grammar and spelling problems (although not always all – even for bestsellers). Self-pubbed works have a far wider range of this.

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