December 21, 2011
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