When I Met Beau Biden

For those of you not from Delaware, or who don’t follow the news, Vice President Joe Biden’s son, who had the same name but was called “Beau” to distinguish himself from his father, passed away yesterday at the age of 46.

Whereas his father is known for being bombastic and outspoken, Beau was more reserved and cordial. I actually met Beau, and given who he was and how he affected my job responsibilities, I want to use my blog to share a few thoughts about him.

As Delaware’s Attorney General, he made government accountability a staple of his administration. As Caesar Rodney Institute is, at its core, a government accountability and transparency advocate, it was important to us to use Delaware’s FOIA laws to access information. In news which will not shock the world, some of Delaware’s state agencies made turning over information at our request tedious and painful, or cited reasons they weren’t going to. Beau, however, affirmed CRI’s right to obtain the information we requested, and in the years before I came to CRI, helped us get the information we wanted, with a phone call from his office to the agency in question.

In 2011, Beau made it clear to CRI the AG’s office would support CRI in our public records request if any state agency tried to prevent the release of any information we requested under our rights under Delaware’s FOIA law. This support helped me personally, because I utilized Delaware’s FOIA law several times while Beau was in the AG’s office.

Knowing that Beau would side with CRI over state agencies when it came to the majority of open records requests made my job easier and on one occasion I did call his office to report an issue and someone (not him, but in his office) spoke to the agency in question’s representatives and reminded them of his support for our rights. This came despite us generally being at political odds with one another. I sincerely mean it when I say that knowing we had Beau’s support for these public records made doing my job easier.  I felt confident during the roughly two and a half years he was AG that I was able to submit FOIA request and have his office on speed-dial (not literally, but you get the idea) should any agency give me an unnecessarily hard time. This kind of respect for the public’s right to know is important for government accountability.

The first time, and the only time, I actually spoke to him was in 2013 when my then-boss sent me on a mission to the University and Whist Club in Wilmington where he was speaking at a public event about, fittingly, Freedom of Information Act requests. Some Delaware-based reporters and nonprofits were unhappy by how certain agencies were moving in responding to these requests, and Beau had a roughly 40 minute Q&A presentation about how he respected journalism and organizations like CRI (He did not mention us by name) who are involved in holding government accountable to the public, and he said he wanted to be that bridge between the government agencies and the people they serve. I filmed him from the side of the room, and one several occasions he looked like he was afraid of ruining my shot even though it was he I was filming.

After he was done talking and the room broke out into multitudes of conversations, he came by to ask who I was and where I was from. Knowing him only by reputation, I introduced myself, wondering if Beau, upon hearing the name of the Caesar Rodney Institute (which liberals generally do not like), would awkwardly shake my hand and hastily move on. Instead, he shook my hand with confidence, and we talked for maybe half a minute about what I was doing and I told him I appreciated his office’s efforts to support FOIA requests. He thanked me for my words and said he was happy to help any organization which was just “trying to do your jobs serving the public”. Yes, I know it was not some epic words we said to each other, but it still was cool for the younger me to be able to talk to a high-ranked elected official, and the son of a Vice President, at a public forum where he was relatively unprotected and was candid about walking around and speaking to people.

I will conclude by saying I actually liked Beau, to the extent I knew him or dealt with his office. He was taken from the world tragically too soon, and at this time I offer my condolences to the Biden family and wish them well.

Is writing being devalued?

Yes, if you ask Roxana Robinson, head of something called the Authors Guild, of which I am not a member. Heck, I’m not even sure how I would be eligible for this; I guess I need to sell a lot of copies when I finally do get published.

From the article:

“Writers are contributing to the fall in their incomes by penning free pieces for large companies in the hope that it will raise their profile and lead to book sales, Roxana Robinson, president of The Authors Guild, has told The Bookseller. She also said that Amazon was devaluing books and writing.

Robinson right, a novelist and short story writer who has also written a biography of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, has been president of The Authors Guild—the US equivalent of the Society of Authors—since March 2014. She said that “it is clear that writers’ incomes are declining”, claiming a drop in the number of people reading books and “struggles over royalty and prices” were among the reasons for lower incomes.

“Amazon discounting book prices means that there is a movement toward devaluing books,” she said. “And I think that has an impact on the way people look at writing. If Amazon keeps pricing e-books at very, very low prices, people start feeling, ‘well, actually, writing isn’t a valuable product’.”

But, she added, authors were not helping themselves by writing for free. “People write on Huffington Post, they write for Goodreads, they write for Medium.com: valuable sites owned by big tech companies that make a lot of money for those companies. Writers choose to write there for nothing and to provide content for nothing. That’s another issue, and that is something that writers are doing deliberately.”

Robinson said The Authors Guild would not advise any author to stop writing for publications, but argued that an article by an author on a website may not lead to book sales. “I don’t know that anyone has figures on sales that result from this kind of writing (for free),” she said. “Everyone says, ‘get your name out there’, but does that really translate to connecting to the hard mental presence of the book? We want writers to recognise what is happening, to be aware of this trend, that writers themselves are contributing to the idea that their writing doesn’t deserve to be paid for.”

Okay, here’s the rub: She is not completely wrong, but she writes from a different position than the rest of us.

Where she’s right: Digital content has basically been devalued to zero. The top selling mobile games are all free. How many people actually pay for music? You can stream free via Pandora or Spotifly, or just listen on YouTube. Sure, artists make some money, but not a lot.

A lot of this is because since anyone can get in, everyone can get in. And as the polar opposite in sports, where once an owner decided to pay top dollar for the best athletes and thus drove up the athlete’s salary, the moment some people decided to give away freebies because they were in a position too, people began to expect it. Woe be that writer who wants to make even a dollar off his/her work, when most of the public doesn’t mind paying $5 for a Starbucks grande latte. So in the sense that it’s become harder to make a living, let alone money, I think she’s on to something.

She is also correct that sites like Wattpad, Goodreads, Medium, etc., make money by essentially getting people to post free stuff, without being more supportive of indie authors who want to earn an honest buck selling their work (Wattpad is particularly unhelpful). While it does build exposure for some, it encourages people to expect to never pay for anything, because if you see all stories as merely words on a screen, and not anything with meaning to you, then it’s easy to just read free books. Look at all the folks who only ever go to the free-book section to download work.

However, suggesting that it’s bad to post free content to build a following is nuts. What am I doing now? How about your blogs, which I follow and read from time to time? How about Kboards, or Goodreads, or Wattpad, or any other place? The big advantage of these sites is that they allow anyone, even those without a “platform”, to get one. How can one get a platform if one isn’t already famous or well-connected? These sites, and the entire concept of self-publishing, do just that. It isn’t like I have a published op-ed column in a national digital newspaper with tens of thousands of views per article. So what to do if Oprah doesn’t know your cell by heart, or Bill O’Reilly can’t announce in on his show? Only via social media can some of us reach an audience.

The big question for anyone who writers, whether indie or trad-pubbed, is this: Will the market for paid books at least hold steady, or will we turn into the music industry, where a few megastars make tens of millions from sales of everything, while most indies struggle since no one wants to pay for their music?*
*I have bought indie albums before, so don’t blame me.
B&B: I enjoy reading posts from other bloggers, so don’t be a stranger, follow my blog and I will follow back! I also like featuring authors here. If you have a book and you’d like me to interview you, just message me and we’ll talk.

The Sign You’ve Hit Rock Bottom as a Writer

As your humble B&B writer continues searching for his first-ever publication, paid or not, as a fiction writer, I decided to enter some short story competitions, to earn recognition and pick up a little extra money here and there to pay some bills.

In February I submitted an 800 word short story to Highlights for Children, since they offer $140 for published stories. Now, the story I wrote isn’t going to win me a Pulitzer or Coretta Scott King award for literature, but I really wanted to pay my electric and cable bill this month with the earnings.

Three months later I got the response back (truncated for length):

“Dear Author:

Thank you for sharing your manuscript with us.

When you send a manuscript to Highlights, you compete with hundreds of other authors. You win this competition when your piece seems to be the best fit for our present needs. All editors have preferences…many a noted writer has climbed to success on steps built with early rejection slips. Don’t get discouraged!

We are returning your manuscript because:”

Now, this is some fun for ya. There were 17 possible reasons for rejection, multiple reasons possible. Here are 5 of the 17. Choose all the reasons I was rejected:

A. It lacks a fresh approach

B. It is not suited to our present needs.

C. it lacks a strong plot.

D. We do not believe the subject would appeal strongly to our readers (kids 8-12).

E. We have on hand, or have published, a similar piece.

You were correct if you chose only Choice B.

No explanation was given for what “present needs” was. Given the magazine and reader, I thought the story would work, but oh well. S/he who figures out the exact definition what they meant by choice B shall win a gift card prize from me. Offer not available to Highlights staff or their family members or any past employees.

Believe it or not, I’m not mad at them or anything…it was a one-time shot and it was worth my time to try. I understand they have so many options, and like all publishers, deciding who you shall grant favor to is a tough art. having said that, there IS a way they choose, but I won’t reveal my research until my debut novel comes out…

Now I mean no disrespect to Highlights; I read their magazines in the doctors’ and dentists’ offices, at least in the days before smartphones and iPads, and I enjoyed the Goofus and Gallant section. But seriously, If I can’t get even a short story published there…ouch. Woe is me. That brings me up to 33 total rejections for 2 book pitches and short story submissions, all since last July.

B&B: Short story submissions are a great place to try to a. get published in a low-risk setting for both you and your publisher, in terms of money and time; and b. practice the art of storytelling when your word limits are constrained.

I have short story submissions outstanding in: Baen Fantasy Adventures Award, L. Ron Hubbard Writer’s of the Future Award, and We Need Diverse Books Short Story Contest. As responses come in, I will share my experiences and what I learned from entering these contests and tips for how you could win, should you write in those fields.

Until next time, ladies and gents.

Are there any good reasons to self-censor your work?

Not too long ago, there was a controversy with DC Comics and their Batgirl #41, where the cover shows the Joker threatening a frightened Batgirl with a gun, with “Joker makeup” on her mouth. From CNN:

Batgirl is menaced by the Joker in a comic book cover that was pulled after criticism on social media.

 “Following that was a viral trending hastag on twitter, called #changethecover. Shortly thereafter, DC Comics pulled the cover created by artist Rafael Albuquerque.

Regardless if fans like Rafael Albuquerque’s homage to Alan Moore’s THE KILLING JOKE graphic novel from 25 years ago, or find it inconsistent with the current tonality of the Batgirl books — threats of violence and harassment are wrong and have no place in comics or society,” they said.

“We stand by our creative talent, and per Rafael’s request, DC Comics will not publish the Batgirl variant. “

Albuquerque said in his own statement, “My Batgirl variant cover artwork was designed to pay homage to a comic that I really admire, and I know is a favorite of many readers. ‘The Killing Joke’ is part of Batgirl’s canon and artistically, I couldn’t avoid portraying the traumatic relationship between Barbara Gordon and the Joker.”

He concluded, “My intention was never to hurt or upset anyone through my art. For that reason, I have recommended to DC that the variant cover be pulled. I’m incredibly pleased that DC Comics is listening to my concerns and will not be publishing the cover art in June as previously announced.”

It was just the latest brouhaha involving portrayals of women in comic books and variant covers in particular. In September, Marvel Comics canceled future variant covers from artist Milo Manara after a “Spider-Woman” No. 1 variant cover caused an uproar for being “over-sexualized.” (The company later said there was no connection between the two events.)”

Censorship isn’t just about politics, though. Censorship is about when you have some artistic value in your work, but you silence yourself because you’re afraid of who you’re going to offend. For example, you write something critical of a powerful God-like company like Facebook or Google, but you stop yourself because you’re afraid if you make your masters unhappy, someone at the company might “accidentally” close your Facebook account or post personal data you thought was private to the public domain so all can see. Believe me, white extremely rare, this has happened. That’s why I switched from Google to DuckDuckGo for most of my search engine results, though I still use Google Maps, Gmail and some level of searching (disclosure: I’m slowly moving away from them). You should use DuckDuckGo if you don’t want your searches tracked or saved for all eternity. So you simply refrain from heavy criticism because of the fear of being embarrassed or crushed via SEO rankings or search results.

Or, perhaps you wrote an article critical of JK Rowling (and I bring her up since I was just at a senior thesis presentation today where a girl talked about Harry Potter and its Christian message), who has her seat reserved in Heaven already next to Steve Jobs because she is so awesome like he was, and if you criticize her in any way I can only image the mob fury which will come down on the poor bastard(ess) who criticizes her or Harry in any way whatsoever, legitimate criticism or not. Good luck.

Woe be the writer (book, screenplay, or musician) who creates a piece critical of a group with a lot of money, power, influence, or members, or some other topic which is generally considered taboo and would get you uninvited to the A-list parties. Death threats, hate mail, and boycotts are becoming an increasing common staple of our society by extremists on all sides, who use the internet to essentially form “mob rule” to keep dissenters in line.

Most performers like to keep their politics and religions under wraps as not to offend anyone, so they go along with the flow in order to make sure everyone likes them. For example, what is Aaron Rodgers political preference? Or Stephen Strasberg? They don’t usually discuss, so you know then as entertainers and they keep their brand apolitical and clean. Those who take stands risk pissing off the other side and having them boycott your work or harass you.

This is of course, different than hate speech, where you may have the right to say it but doing so means a legitimate loss of business or boycotts. Don’t expect much sympathy if you write “Heil Hitler” on your blog, or if you talk about murdering gay rights advocates or pro-lifers. Just as censorship is wrong, there are consequences to taking freedom of speech too far.

B&B Tip: consider what you say before saying it, but do not let censorship shut you down.

Disclosure: I’m not suggesting any of the above examples are my own opinions, but ones where I can see problems being caused if you did write about them.

How I Sold Fifty Thousand E-books Without Spending Money

character: Lazy Sal, Futurama.

This the kind of click-bait/low-quality post you see on author boards like Kboards and elsewhere. Basically, some author wants to brag about how s/he banged out a book in two weeks, bought a stock image book cover, added their name and book title on it, and uploaded the completed file to Amazon with no editing or formatting, and then saw the book go to #1 on the Amazon bestsellers list for three straight weeks. It’s tough to know who’s telling the truth and who’s just looking for attention, but they do bring up a good question: How much should you spend on a self-published book? Estimates vary, with some people going all out for about $1500-2000 a book and some people saying the spent $5 on a stock photo and otherwise no editing, no formatting, just plopped a cover on there and soon it was making them tens of thousands within a month.

I honestly cannot figure out how any serious author can produce such low-quality work and expect to be successful. Yes, maybe once or twice someone spent, like, ten bucks on a cover, threw a book up on Amazon, and sold 100,000+ copies and is now seeing their movie being made into a Hollywood film. Maybe. Realistically, those people with the shortcut attitude will be lucky to sell more than 500 doing that. But who knows? Apparently you can write Justin Bieber fan-fic and get a million or billion views, or write a poorly written book and sell 100 million, so why not?

The answer should be, there is no “right” answer. If you can barter for editing services, good for you. If you’re a natural artist and you can make a great cover, good for you. Otherwise, any good book should have 1-2 qualified editors (people with a background in editing, at least one of them an actually book editor), at least three reliable beta readers (helps you test plot holes and pick up anything the editor could have missed), and someone who can actually create a book cover. Whether you spend $40 or $400 is irrelevant, whether your total is $300, $500, or $2000, as long as you get the cover you want and can make sales with the best looking product you can make. It’s not the cost, it’s the quality.

The bottom line: You don’t see major publishers or bestselling indies skimp on every process of book creation any more than Rolex skimps out on producing a luxury watch. Wouldn’t you rather emulate the successful than the bragaholic cheapskate looking for clicks?

I can’t answer for you, but I know A LOT LOT LOT of people with that kind of attitude. They want to show off how cheap they are or how little effort they can put in. It’s like someone saying that, instead of producing a great video, they just farted on their webcam, uploaded it to YouTube, and had 500,000 views in a month. Oh wait, I think that did happen.

They put in the minimal effort into everything, and then wonder why they aren’t successful. Hm.

For the record, on one of my just-completed novels, I hired an editor with six-plus years Big 5 experience. She actually was reasonable, in the triple digits for a full development and line edit (the line was the major cost). I will let you know how she does after she finishes work, but so far I’m very enthused about working with her.

What about you? How much do you spend on producing your book? Do you do any marketing?

New Author Earnings report. And…very good for indie #authors

The friendly folks at Author Earnings have taken it upon themselves to measure how much we’re making-at least if you’ve published anything, which I have not (yet- stay tuned, yung’ns). And a look at this says that if you’re an Author Going On Your Own (AGOYO), the bag is mostly good, but some data is still incomplete, IMO.

First, the bad: Indie book sales per title dropped from a high of $4.26 in October 2014 to $3.87. Some people might say this is great, lower prices=more sales, even if you give away the occasional freebie.

BUT (and there’s always one of these) the average e-book sale price of:

small/medium publisher- $9.53, down from $10.81 in October 2014

Amazon Imprint- $4.29, up from $3.95 in February 2015

Big 5 publisher: $9.83, higher than $9.58 in February 2015.

So while the authors who actually had their book published “legitimately” saw there average price per sale go up, indie sales went down. This isn’t great, because this is the average price for what people actually paid, sans freebies. A lot of this is due to authors who can “box” their books, 3 for 99 cents. This may drive total sales, but the cost per e-book is dropped way down. So what’s the actual sales volume?

may-2015-combined-titlecount

Small and medium indie publishers really took it here!

may-2015-combined-unitsales

201505-marketshare-trend-unitsales-datefix

This chart is significant. For the first time ever, 2015 saw the year where Indie sales actually surpassed the collective sales of the “Big Five”. But this is what happens when you charge $12.99 for an e-book, which is merely a digital file. B&B understands the need to pay for more than one editor, book cover designer, etc., but that is a LOT for an e-book. The authors least bothered? Those who earned success in the pre e-book era (pree-book)

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 3.28.19 PM

This is one of the charters I was looking for. Rather than a pie chart which just compares slices of pie versus the total sum, this one shows that every day, indies are selling about 370,000 books, about 100,000 more than “Big Five” published authors. Figure in the high pricing of the e-books.

Author Earnings has their own take on it, which you can read on your own. Here’s the B&B spin:

First, AE is missing one thing- total sales split between the bestsellers and total. The reason we need to see this is to know how much bestsellers are bringing up the market. While 370,000 a day is insanely good, what if the top 25 indies are selling 60% of that. Suddenly the numbers don’t look so appealing to the rest of us. The same with the other published- how many sales are by the bestsellers, versus the rest? I’d like to see that. I have a feeling more than half of total Big Five sales are from the big names and not the midlisters.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, the trad-pubs still have a lot to offer. Since many people still buy print books, medium and larger publishers still have that market cornered since most indies are not very good at handling their own shipping and distribution network. Book translations? Big pubs can take care of that faster than you can, and at no immediate cost to you (though the QUALITY of translation remains to be seen). Want to see your movie on the big screen? While a small number of indies have made it, the largest share of books-to-movies comes from trad-pubbed books. The biggest blockbuster franchises, besides 50 shades, are all trad-pubbed. Indies make a lot of money by quantity more than the other models have.

But the reality is in: cheaper, affordable e-books, written by people who have great stories and were simply not given the time of day by lit agents or publishers, are what readers crave. Authors who can connect with a loyal audience do much better than those who barely acknowledge their fans, except maybe for the occasional retweet or Facebook like. Authors who offer some promo item, whether a “buy 2 get 1 free” deal or a piece of merchandise with every print sale, can engage much faster and more efficiently than when your work is being managed by someone who has one too many authors to promote, and all of them are more famous and respected than you. Also, I am still amazed by how incompetent the publisher’s marketing is. The number one challenge is not to redistribute the wealth, but grow that pie of people reading for pleasure. Put me in charge and you will see book sales increase as I go out to engage kids and adults who might try a book 5 hours a week instead of more Netflix shows.

Finally, to  quote from Author Earning’s October 2014 report:

“What the data tells us, then, is that self-publishing is just as viable as any other form of publishing. Perhaps more so. No one can halt your career because an early title underperforms expectations. You get to hire the editors and cover artists you want to work with. You get to write whatever you want and publish whenever and however often you like. And you can publish every which way. Self-publishing used to close you off to other avenues, now it simply opens them up. Many authors publish in several ways simultaneously.”

“Every author will need to find their own path. There is no one right answer. If there’s anything the data tells us, it’s that readers are starving for great stories at fair prices, and whoever can deliver that consistently has a chance at earning income doing something they love. Maybe not a great chance at earning a full-time living, but a better chance than at any other time in human history. And that must be celebrated, however you crunch the numbers.”

So if you are indie or represented by a small/medium publisher, you could pop the bubbly right about now. While I do not cheer for the demise of the larger publishers, they had it coming. Without being able to tell the reader why one story was better than the other, their high-priced model faltered. Without being able to properly measure quality and an author’s ability to generate sales volume, rather focusing on the already-built “platform” which the author had without the publisher’s help, they struggled to move books. Without the appearance of customer-friendliness as opposed to selling to bookstores and wholesale distributors, they saw their numbers fall.

So if you’re indie, congrats. If not…I sincerely hope your book is getting turned into a movie or tv show soon. Like this author, whom I like a lot.

all graphs in this blogpost were originally published by AuthorEarnings.com

Self-Pub or Trad-pub? You’re asking the wrong question, Lil’ Fella

The never-ending discussion of whether it’s better to go indie or go traditional when it comes to your book’s publication just keeps on going, kind of as a way I think for those who are not big-time to get some consolation as to why you can’t get a book deal. Believe me, I’ve been there.

Now I personally do believe that indies have a lot of advantages in terms of control, flexibility, and freedom to write what they want without being cencorsed by corporate interests. However, let’s not kid ourselves: With the exception of 50 shades of grey, which was a once-in-a-lifetime strike of lightning, the A-list trad-pubbed authors outearn and are better-known than the A-list self-published superstars. It’s the trad-pubbed authors whose bestsellers are more likely to be turned into movies, maintain just about every blockbuster franchise, and sell the most merchandise and products (if that’s your thing) over indies, who don’t have the distribution, marketing, or credibility that comes with an established, big-time publisher. Yes, I know there are indie success stories. Bella Andre, whose twitter feed says she’s sold over 4 million books, mostly as a self-published author, just followed me on Twitter and she has the requisite 135k needed to land a major publishing deal, which she did.

However, I doubt Bella is reading my blog right now, and I doubt Hugh Howey or J.A. Konrath are either (howdy y’all, during National Teacher Appreciation Week 2015 in case you read this in the future- and please don’t unfollow me! It hurts my feelings). So let’s talk about why if you’re deciding to self-pub or find an agent to traditionally publish with, just stop.

First off, the odds are astronomically impossible that you will get an agent to request your full manuscript, let alone agree to an exclusive contract with you, let alone actually find a publisher who wants to buy your work, unless you have a major “platform”, meaning either online or terrestrial. So if you can count big-name talk show hosts or celebrities as BFF’s who will promote your book, then congrats. Here’s your contract.

  • If you have a column in a national newspaper, or you’re a reporter for a big magazine or newspaper, or some other well-trafficked outlet, that’s a solid platform and if your book is at least solid, if not spectacular, then here’s your contract.
  • If you can count millions, or apparently billions, of Wattpad reads for your stories, or you have publicity on another high-trafficked site, stop. Here’s your contract.
  • If you can pull out a list of at least fifteen thousand e-mail subscribers to your blog or website, who are clamoring for your next book, and it’s good if not great, here’s your contract.
  • If you’ve won major (and I mean MAJOR) literary awards, like a Hugo or Corretta Scott King Book Award, and you have at least some type of web presence, you can probably snag yourself a book deal.
  • If you have already self-published and can show at least fifty thousand sales, preferably in the $2.99 or above range, hold on there little fella, you just might land yourself a book deal from a publishing house.
  • On some occasions, if you are lucky enough to get noticed by a small, independent publisher willing to take a chance on you, you can get your book published by an actual company, with or without representation. Just don’t expect your book to end up in bookstores nationwide, because many small presses don’t have much better print on demand (POD) access or distribution than you could get on your own.

If you are still reading this and didn’t get your contract yet, then you don’t have a massive platform, don’t have enough A- or B- list celebrities who can endorse your work, don’t have tens or hundreds of thousands of e-mail subscribers asking for your next book, don’t have a major literary award, and you can’t show indie sales in the mid-5 figures or above, then exactly why are you spending your time trying to query agents? Unless you have a masochistic fetish, you will be hurt when those rejection letters come in. And the worst part is, you will never know if your book was rejected because a) it’s been done ten thousand times before, b) it just flat out sucks, c) your attitude was unprofessional, d) your platform wasn’t considered big enough to sell enough copies to justify the agent spending her time trying to place it, or e) the agent was just overwhelmed with reading too many queries when they have to promote their current list of authors, or go to YouTube conventions/reality TV show sets to find their next writer. You will get a friendly letter of “thank you for your book, but I’m going to pass” with no explanation why.

So what is likely to happen is, you will automatically end up self-publishing as an indie. You can either just go it totally alone, or get published with a very small, truly independent press, which I will count as self-pubbed since you will do a LOT of your own promotion, and you will still have to be on top of your publisher to make sure the book was edited and produced to high standards. You simply won’t be able to do that with a major publisher.

IF you are good/lucky/persistent, you might be able to sell enough copies that some agents will call or e-mail YOU and talk to you about whether you’d like to sign a contract with one (agent) so s/he can help you with traditional print publishing rights, overseas rights, movie rights, etc. You may yet get that traditional publishing deal, which does have advantages over going alone. Namely, the ability to sell and collect money in foreign countries, get your book translated (well or poorly, I have no comment since I don’t know) into multiple languages as opposed to finding translators or learning a lot of languages really quickly, the ease of having your book sold in bookstores and having distribution handled, the increased likelihood of seeing your book turned into a movie (unless you have great connections), the increased odds of winning the very book awards which keep you contracted, and the ease of having other productions like audiobooks handled, which leaves you free to write, do social media, and maybe sell some merchandise on the side if you don’t have a licensing deal in place with a company.

Given that the barrier between indie and traditional is blurred, and that you can still get that book contract if you want it, why even consider otherwise? Even if you don’t want a traditional book deal, for many reasons like loss of control, no compete clauses, mediocre or poor advance, lack of trust in the publisher or agent to properly handle matters, or any other reason, circumstances can always change your mind.

So go indie. It isn’t like you have a real choice now anyway.