I’ve pitched a lot of media: movies, books, tv shows, series, specials, documentaries, dramas, comedies. I’ve been in the room with a raucous band of comedy writers riffing off my every word. I’ve met with studio heads who excused themselves to use their executive wash room – with the door open – just to make a visible and noisy point about their personal power. I’ve been on the receiving end of early morning phone calls from producers who were not in a good mood at all.
I have developed a thick skin, as the expression goes, when it comes to writing, but I am glad to see the power of institutional gatekeepers eroding.
This redistribution of power started with crowdfunding. Once upon a time, if you wanted to get your movie funded, you had to go to a studio development executive and get them to like it. Or you had to sell your rich uncle on the idea, or your rich dentist, or both, and then you had to get a distributor to like it. If you wanted to get your book published, back in the day your only option was to write a proposal, get an agent to like it, get that agent to get a publisher to like it, talk yourself into a contract, if you were lucky, that left you with some rights, and then become depressed when the whole deal fell apart. Or you could write a book or a movie on spec, as the expression went, which meant for no money, and convince your agent to shop it around.
Labor intensive. Rough. Not very productive. It’s not easier now, but there is a lot more creative control, more connection with your work, more freedom. Simply because you don’t have to deal with gatekeepers if you don’t want to.
Crowdfunding has created a direct connection between creator and backer. Indie publishing on Amazon and other platforms is a direct connection to your readers.
Drawbacks? Yes, of course there are. Amazon has a near monopolistic grip on the indie world, and they exploit their advantage using price and distribution manipulation. They do, however, pay my royalties regularly. Just as crowdfunding requires you to gather a crowd, indie publishing shifts the burden of publicity from the publisher and on to you, the writer. You have to do your own heavy lifting. To successfully crowdfund or publish independently, you have to learn about things like marketing and publicity. You have to take a holistic view of your work, which is not at all a bad thing.
There’s a pervasive fiction, pervasive as any novelist’s storyline, that a traditional publisher will do everything to get your book ‘out there,’ in stores, promoted, sold. Traditional publishers do carry clout with old guard critics and some reviewers, but they are playing by the same rules as everyone else when it comes to promotion and even distribution. No publisher thinks of your book in physical form on a store shelf as their sole asset. In fact, that’s a small part of things now. A traditional publisher makes a lot more money on the digital e-book version of your work. Just as you would stand to do if you published it yourself.
If you want to increase your domain authority, become better known, get more people interested in what you do, think and feel, without gatekeepers, indie publishing starts looking good. Crowdfunding has broken down barriers for creators, startup culture has broken down barriers to business, and indie publishing has broken down the barriers to publishing your book. Since publishing my own book, with another in the works, I’ve decided to offer a free class, along with two other experts, about getting published. It’s online, so you can attend from anywhere in the world. Check this link for more info.