You would think that eventually fiction writers, as a group, would start getting tired of being victims. I mean really tired.
One of the wonderful things that this new world has given all writers is artistic freedom. We’ve talked here about some of the ramifications of how writers use that freedom over the last few weeks.
But another aspect of the freedom writers have is to make choices in the areas of how they will work, who they will work with, and so on. These choices are very much aspects of artistic freedom.
In the old days of traditional-publishing-only, I used to scoff at writers sitting in bars complaining because they couldn’t sell another book. Their editor had left or their first series had poor sales. Even in those days the writers had an artistic choice to change their names, find new editors, and sell another book because all sales records were tied to names. Just as it these days.
But I suggest to writers these indie days to not change names but to stay under one name because of the power of numbers of titles in discoverability.
So let me give you three major examples of how certain choices have changed since the traditional days.
— Traditional: Writer signed a contract or didn’t publish. Today writers aren’t stopped by contracts in indie. Writers can publish what you want.
— Traditional: Writer has zero control of cover or copyediting or book design. Today writers have complete control over all of those aspects.
— Traditional: Writers had no control at all over sales, promotion, and the way money was handled and when the writer got it. Today, the writer has complete control and knows exactly how much money is coming at any moment and when.
So why, with all this new control, do writers constantly put themselves into a place to be a victim?
Some examples of how writers just put themselves into a place to be a victim.
— Writers spend years trying to get a traditional publisher, sign bad contracts and whine about making no money and about a publisher doing exactly what was in the contract the writer signed.
— Writers hire agents and then complain that the agent isn’t communicating with them and money is slow or being stolen.
— Writers sign up with vanity publishers and pay vast amounts of money on scam promises. (Sadly, not far off from hiring an agent these days.)
— Writers put their books in an exclusive arrangement, either a distributor or something like KU and then whine when things don’t go exactly as they hoped.
— Writers think they can get rich on a few short novels and then when they have few or no sales (even though they followed all the advice from baby writers) they whine and quit.
— Writers sell a few things, think they know everything about writing and telling stories and stop learning craft and business and then whine when their career dries up like fine sand in a desert. (These writers never understand what exactly happened because their egos tell them they are good and they can’t accept that they might not be good enough to hold a long-term fan base.)
— Writers write to market (meaning go write something they don’t much like but that they think is hot to make a little money) and then whine when writing is no longer fun and their money slows down and stops.
Take control. Accept the control.
Writers have complete control and artistic choice these days.
And the information is out there to make intelligent decisions if you want. (Yes, you have to wade through some crap… stop whining and wade.)
No one is forcing you to be in KU or sign a bad traditional contract or think you can get rich in five or ten books or stop learning how to be a better storyteller. You have the choice to do all that and end up a victim complaining later.
Artistic choice means the choice to make good or bad decisions.
BUT… DEAN… WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES.
Yup, we do. I sure made a bunch of the ones I listed above back in the traditional days. I had an agent who stole from me, I signed horrid contracts, I wrote for money instead of love in a bunch of places.
But since the real choices suddenly gave writers freedom, the artistic freedom I’ve been talking about in these blogs, I have made none of those mistakes.
I got rid of my agent, haven’t even thought of going to a traditional publisher again for any reason, I write what I love, and I have been hungry to keep learning and practicing to be a better storyteller almost every day.
And I have a long-term approach. Now understand how hard that is considering I started just over three years ago and I am now 66 years of age. I still understand and embrace long-term growth and it’s been working fine.
So stop being a victim, even though you have made mistakes.
Interesting aspect of making a mistake… if you admit it, stop whining, fix the mistake, and move on, no one really notices.
You now have one major artistic choice I haven’t mentioned.
You can stop complaining about the mistakes you made, stop defending them, change course, and build into the future.
In other words, stop being a victim.
Make new mistakes, have fun with the writing, and embrace the control.
Take the responsibility of being in control.
A ton more fun that way.