Sometimes I like to bitch and moan about writing. The hours are too long I tell myself, the rewards too few. I’m not the only author who does this I’m sure. Sometimes when we put out a new book it’s like hitting a baseball into outer space in the hope that somebody might catch it. We do it again and again and still, nobody catches.
What’s the point? It’s like nobody cares, right?
Well, yes. Truth is, most people – friends and family included – don’t give a damn about what we’re doing no matter how much we pour our heart and soul into it.
But believe it or not folks – I’m not actually here to moan today. I’m here to reiterate the point that it’s still without a doubt, theeeee cockadoodie best time to be a writer.
Every day I thank my lucky stars that I’m writing in the early twenty-first century. Thank God for the opportunities afforded to us in the digital era where our stories have a real shot of finding the right readers, thank to multiple publishing options. I thank my lucky stars that the age-old oppressive, tedious and unfair submission process to traditional publishers is no longer the only route that authors have towards building a legit career.
We are so lucky to be writing right now. Seriously folks. Think of all the writers in generations past – those poor bastards who weren’t around to experience the digital revolution in all its glory. The hard-working, big-dreaming, imaginative authors who never had the opportunity to see the likes of KDP, Createspace, Kobo and all the other platforms that give us what they never had – a choice!
And this is what bothers me. As well as the plight of the authors, what about all the great stories that were never told? It’s not like these authors didn’t have a good story to tell. We all know that traditional publishers are afraid to take a chance on something risky or unconventional that doesn’t tick the right marketing boxes. These old manuscripts weren’t rejected because they were bad books. They just weren’t the right fit because maybe they were too short, too controversial, too non-formulaic and so on.
And maybe the authors didn’t want to self-publish the old way – paying a fortune for a vanity publishing company to publish their book, then trying to sell their paperbacks out of a pile of boxes gathering dust in the garage.
I feel so sorry for these people. Countless, great and interesting authors who missed the digital revolution.
You’re a writer in 1985 and the publishers won’t give you a break. You don’t have the money or will to vanity publish. So you put your story in a drawer or somewhere else that represents story limbo, believing that it’s no good because enough people said no. And there it lingers, this great story that would have moved, inspired and been devoured by so many of us readers. I have no doubt there are great ones out there that in this era, would have found an audience if the authors had chosen the indie route (and honed their marketing skills just like we have to).
These people were born too soon. What a shame.
I can’t be only one who thinks about this, am I? About the lost pre-indie stories? Possibly, I’m weird that way.
So anyway, let’s not moan about how hard it is. At least not too much. This little post is all about being thankful. I’m thankful that I live in an age where we can send our work directly into the marketplace, irrespective of whether a literary agency or publishing house thinks they’re the right fit. Or that a book can be published via crowdfunding or something like that.
Historically speaking, most authors didn’t have many options. We do.
It is without doubt, a great time to be both an author and a reader. Let’s be thankful and continue to share great stories in honour of those authors and the indie books that never were.