Editorial & Giveaway (US/Int): Sci-fi author Sara King on what Indie publishing can do for readers and why to “go indie!”
Please help me welcome the Great Overlord Sara King, ruler of many loyal minions!
Let me start this article by saying that I am a successful indie writer. I just went on a trip to Scotland, all expenses paid by my rabid, screaming fans (who are totally, utterly awesome and I bow to them). [DVK insert: “fans” = the “minions”, totally loyal and adorably enthusiastic in their support of their Overlord! Seriously, check out Sara’s Facebook pages!] I can put food in my stomach and clothes on my back due to the happy-go-lucky babble that comes out of my mind. After three decades, I have finally achieved my dream, and I am currently making more money than I could have made with a traditional publisher and am my own boss, decide my own deadlines and work-hours, and run my own business. That said, I have a point to make about the massive changes that are happening in publishing today:
Everyone knows an aspiring writer. They’re everywhere—your next-door neighbor, your sister, your mother’s best friend. And some of you even know aspiring writers who have taken the next steps to full-blown professional publication (i.e. have finished several novels, enlisted unsuspecting friends or family to give feedback, or have even taken that all-important step of looking for a suitable agent). Unfortunately for those starry-eyed new authors, professional publication is pretty much a good ol’ boys club, with only a bare handful of new authors initiated each year. Getting in has approximately the same odds as winning the lottery.
[quote]…for those starry-eyed new authors, professional publication is pretty much a good ol’ boys club…[/quote]
For you the sci-fi reader, this means that the selection of new novels you get to feast upon each month is limited to that which has passed through a max of approx. 8 editors that more or less control traditional publishing. Everything that is published in the major houses nowadays goes through those eight minds. And, further, those eight minds are catering to the all-important Dollar, which basically means they are going to be chasing fads in order to impress the men and women with the purse-strings. You ever wonder why so many of the books that come out are carbon-copies of each other? That’s why. The traditional publishing business isn’t necessarily looking for good books—they’re looking for books that will sell. They want the next Harry Potter or Twilight. They want to ride trends and make sales based on what is doing well right then. They want books that will fall into a certain set of pre-determined criteria, stuff that has a good chance of going viral.
[quote]They want to ride trends and make sales based on what is doing well right then. They want books that will fall into a certain set of pre-determined criteria, stuff that has a good chance of going viral.[/quote]
How do they decide on what will go viral? Unfortunately, these men and women running traditional publishing—who have to ultimately show a profit in order to keep their jobs—only have history and past successes to look at, so they try to find algorithms and patterns that seemed to work in the past. That, by its very nature, keeps the genre stale, based on history and not potential. And anyone who has looked at science fiction lately has to be utterly blind not to see how stale the genre has become. Science fiction sections that once dominated bookstores, taking up more space than any other genre, now represent only a tiny portion of the present offerings. In some major bookstores with hundreds of bookshelves, it only claims a shelf or two. Most traditional publishers claim this is because sci-fi isn’t interesting to people anymore. I say bullshit.
It is my opinion that, in chasing the Dollar, the traditional publishing system has almost killed Sci-Fi. They don’t bring new sci-fi authors into the Good Ol’ Boys club very often because currently in sci-fi, there is very little money. Because the selection has sucked. Because the editors have been given such a tight budget. Because those with the purse strings can only look at (recent) history and see dismal sales, and thus plan for future dismal sales, and thus only allow a few (if any) new sci-fi authors into the system each year.
Here’s where I believe independent publishers are changing everything. Take small and underappreciated genres like sci-fi, genres with huge potential (just look at the 1960s!!) and very little traditional publisher backing, then throw independent publishers into the mix. These men and women are more often than not extremely hard-working folk who have been rejected time and time again not because their books sucked or their writing was otherwise sub-par, but because their books aren’t commercial (read: like previous bestsellers) enough or the editors just had no space to take on another author that year. These authors are often frustrated, having tried for years—or even decades!!—to get into that club that is traditionally-published writers. To a lot of them, it’s not some hobby or passing whim. It’s something that they’ve been working toward their whole lives, and they’re being passed up for the next Harry Potter lookalike or Twilight copy because publishers think that’s where the money is.
And maybe they’re right. Maybe that’s where the money is. For now. But it’s not where the spirit is. It’s not where the soul of the written word is. You’re not going to expand your horizons by reading 100 Twilight remakes or a dozen attempts to replicate what made Harry Potter great. What the traditional publishers aren’t seeing is that what makes a book great—and ultimately, what makes a book go viral—is originality, life, and soul. Readers appreciate something they’ve never seen before, something that grabs them by the ass and makes them feel every single moment as if they were standing there, watching it, smelling the fields of lavender or shivering in the drizzle of blood. To get books with soul nowadays, you have to avoid the commercial hype, the cardboard cutouts intended to follow some media trend. The best way to do that is to go indie.
[quote]To get books with soul nowadays, you have to avoid the commercial hype, the cardboard cutouts intended to follow some media trend. The best way to do that is to go indie.[/quote]
While they do have some problems of their own (typos, anyone??), independent publishers have one enormous, utterly undeniable thing going for them: They aren’t constrained by the perceived market. The good ones aren’t following the dollar. They aren’t briefed on exactly what’s popular that week or that morning. They’re telling a story, something they feel in their very soul, and that’s going to come across on the page. That’s what’s going to transport a reader to a breathtaking new world, and that is what is going to make characters and scenes that are utterly unforgettable to those who read them. Sure, the traditional publishers are making millions each month on the next Shades of Grey copycat, but they’re not telling a good story. While it’s true that you’ve sometimes gotta dig through copious amounts of trash to find a gem with the independent publishing system (no, a sixteen-year-old’s half-finished masterpiece detailing his last Dungeons and Dragons game is not a good story), when you do find a gem, it’s going to be something you’ve never seen before.
And that, right there, is reason enough to go indie.
About the author
Sara King was born and raised in Alaska, giving her a rather unique outlook on life. Add to that the fact that she has lived a good part of those years “Off the Grid” in the Alaskan Bush, more than thirty miles from the nearest road, and that view becomes even more unique. Adding her brilliant imagination to her life experience in the Alaskan bush, this little writer has brought a marvelous new world to our doorstep in the form of her first book in the Alaskan Paranormal series, Guardians of the First Realm: Alaskan Fire. Never slowing down, this wonderful little Alaskan Hillbilly, fingers flying across the keys of her laptop like greased lightning, brought us the second volume in that world, Guardians of the First Realm: Alaskan Fury, less than two months later. Both are five star books according to the readers responses in The Kindle Store, where they are up for sale. With the first of her many Science-Fiction worlds, Millennium Potion: Wings of Retribution is out in The Kindle Store. Once she finished that, she was off and running on an edit of one she had backlogged, bringing her fans another romance, this one set in the distant future on a world far from earth, in Terms of Mercy: To the Princess Bound. And now, at long last, the first book in the series is out! Outer Bounds: Fortune’s Rising has finally been released.
So, grab a book cover and pop on over to get one of her novels now, or head to our own bookshelf and look through the other novels we have to offer. Interested in what else this little fireball has planned? What story she is going to pull out of her sleeve next? Then click her picture and head on over to her website at KingFiction.com. Her Current Projects are kept up to date, and the rest of her site is there for perusal at your leisure.
About the publisher
Our mission here at Parasite is to help great authors, editors, voice actors, and artists come together to produce novels, graphic novels, audiobooks, comics, and swag. Our theory is that if you get enough great minds in one spot–and pay them all a fair share for the work they do–you’re going to produce something that not only has readers screaming for more, but will allow those with the talent and passion to succeed in the entertainment world to do something that they love, while at the same time making a living off it. Two things that, sadly, don’t often come hand-in-hand in today’s corporate world. Parasite is looking to change that.
Find out more on Facebook
Sara is giving away 5 e-book sets of Forging Zero and Zero Recall (the first two books in the fab Legend of Zero series) PLUS a $50 Amazon (amazon.com or amazon.uk) gift card to commenters today’s post! To enter to win, leave a comment or question for Sara, then fill out the Rafflecopter below…
More Indie Week giveaways and spotlights
Check out our special spotlight of Sara’s wildly popular Forging Zero, the first book in the sensational Legend of Zero sci-fi series, here! That’s also where you’ll find today’s Indie Week Sponsor mega-givewaway entry form.
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