Insecure Writer's Support Group

A Decade of Writing #IWSG

It’s a new month and time for another posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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July Question: There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

You know that Quick-Quotes Quill Rita Skeeter has in the Harry Potter books? I would love something like that – it’s like thinking and writing all at the same time without the carpal tunnel.

When I started out in this industry a decade ago, one had to jump through so many hoops if one wanted a traditional publisher (as a South African, I would have to submit my manuscript to UK or US agents in the hope that they’ll look past the fact that we’re not even in the same hemisphere and that they’ll love my book enough to represent it to a traditional publisher). And let’s not get into the hoops you had to jump through to publish on Amazon (these hoops had mostly disappeared and turned into a single form you have to fill out).

Ten years ago, the traditional publishing houses consisted of the Big Six. They shrunk to the Big Five by the time I started publishing my own books. If rumour is to believed, it is now just the Big Four…

Self-publishing (going indie) became a respectable, profitable choice for authors and along with advances in technology, changed the industry forever.

But we can still do with some changes.

Ebooks have taken the publishing industry by storm. Image credit.

There have been strides to make the publishing scene open to all countries, yet I still find as a South African that I have to jump through several hoops just to get on the same playing field as my international cohorts. And sometimes that isn’t even possible… It would be awesome that if in the next decade, equality would be the watch word in indie publishing. (I’m not even getting into other types of equality here, just the right for all citizens of the world to publish on all publishing platforms. If I can buy on your platform, then I should be able to publish on it as well.)

Tip: if you are having issues with publishing your ebooks directly on certain sites, try Draft2Digital. They have the power to publish your work on many sites that refuse to deal with your country of origin.

Technology has made the book industry a place for everyone with a computer and internet access. Image credit.

Though being indie has come a long way to become respectable, I still find ignorance in many local writing groups (and international book blogging communities) regarding the choice to be an indie author. There is this misconception that all indie authors failed to get their work traditionally published and thus their writing is inferior. As an industry, we need to work harder to get the message mainstream that it isn’t true: the publishing path (traditional, indie or hybrid) you choose is a personal decision based on your personality type, your vision for your career, and how much control you want over your books.

Tip: shout it from the rooftops. Don’t be afraid to correct people when they are running around with these misconceptions. And check yourself: do you have these misconceptions? Are you hurting the sales of indie authors because you have legacy publishing snobbery? Yeah, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Being an indie author is running every aspect of your business. It’s empowering. Image credit.

Personally, I would love to see the rise of indie bookstores. Not just independently owned, but also shelving indie books – at competitive prices that doesn’t leave the author in the red.

Talking about being Indie: there is this new book club especially for Indie books. You can add your book here and check out the books on a list on Goodreads here.

I love browsing in brick-and-mortar bookstores. Image credit.

And though I would love an AI to help me with my writing (especially nonfiction and copywriting that takes up a lot of time), I’ve watched Terminator one time too many and will rather opt for the magical quill.

Any changes you like to see happen? Any changes you would like to disappear?

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28 thoughts on “A Decade of Writing #IWSG”

  1. Thanks for the tip about Draft2Digital. I have four books with a small-press publisher and am dipping my toes into indie publishing with my next project. As indies, it’s up to us to make our books just as polished as what readers would find from a Big 5 (4?) publisher. By the way, the Wild Rose Press publishes several international authors, if you ever choose to go the small press route.

  2. Really interesting post. Your best line–‘self publishing is empowering’. Oh it is, master of my fate. It matters less that I make money than that I am free.

  3. Good post. I hadn’t realized the issue with publishing from other countries, since I live in the one possessing the Ring of Power (i.e. Amazon) (and I just thought about our country right now having the One Ring and started to shake, given that we seem to have something like a cross between Voldemort and Bozo the Clown in charge, but we won’t go there…). Does Smashwords have barriers to you? They also handle the publication to all platforms, aside of course from the boa constric—er, Amazon.

    1. Thanks, Rebecca. Love the comparisons 😉 When I compared Smashwords with Draft2Digital, the latter was just much more user-friendly and had fewer hoops to jump through concerning tax and authorisation.

  4. It would be great to see Indie bookstores make a comeback and for Indie paperbacks to be priced competitively.
    I hope the extra hoops you have to jump through because of your location dissipate.
    Great post!
    Stay safe. Stay healthy.

  5. I’m in Canada and even here there are hoops. The tax paperwork has improved significantly in the five years since I started, but now with the pandemic I can’t get author copies or proofs from Amazon. They stopped printing them in Canada when they merged with Createspace, and Amazon US isn’t shipping to Canada right now.

    1. I hear you! Where it comes to getting copies of my paperbacks published through Amazon, I just go with blind faith that the files I sent work as well with their printers as it does with my local printing company.

  6. I would love one of those quills too since my handwriting is abysmal – well, my everyday handwriting is, I can do calligraphy when I put my mind to it, but my mind is usually occupied with other things 😂.
    I would like to see other sites come up to be able to challenge Amazon, so that they can no longer get away with simply changing things and shafting the little guys.

  7. I would *love* to see a world where brick and mortar bookstores stocked small press and self-published books! And thank you for pointing out the extra struggles that authors who aren’t in the US or UK have to deal with. We can definitely forget that world is larger than our border over here.

  8. That’s rough you have problems publishing because of your location.
    I’ve read excellent books on both sides of the equation. It’s not the route that determines that.

  9. Yes, things have definitely improved since I started, but it sounds like we didn’t have as many hoops in the UK as you did. I more or less gave up on Createspace when I found Blurb, but they aren’t perfect. My orders usually arrive the same day they tell me they;ve despatched them, though, unlike the three month wait from Createspace. (Where I’ve just moved from, I’d get the email from Blurb just after I’d got the parcel from the delivery guys!)
    I must have a think about my mental attitude, though. Writers groups where I used to live looked down on me (at first I didn’t undersatnd why). I’m looking forward to finding out whether my new county is not so tainted.
    Great post, Ronel!

  10. It’s really interesting to hear your perspective as a South African author. Definitely didn’t realize the privilege that authors from certain countries enjoy! Many great tips about indie publishing as well.

  11. Yes, it is frustrating. I’m in Canada, which you’d think would be great because I’m next door to the United States. It’s not. The distribution costs are outrageous, that’s if there’s distribution. If you self-publish a hard copy novel in this country, you can’t afford to ship it anywhere.

    1. Shipping costs are ridiculous. I imported an out-of-print copy of a rare book from Australia last year for my dad’s birthday and the shipping cost was twenty times as much as the book itself. Definitely not a good business idea. I know that a lot of authors send signed bookplates to readers who send proof of purchase of the particular book’s paperback to them — much more affordable.

  12. Yes, global equality in the publishing industry is sorely needed. It’s time to level that playing field. I’m sure we’ll get there. The question is, how much longer will it take?
    From an educational perspective, I’d like to see more of a three-way collaboration with authors, libraries and schools.

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