If you pay attention to industry news, you’ll know that there are a lot of people panicking, claiming that the “golden age of self-publishing” is over–that the bottom has fallen out. The bubble has burst. The sky is falling. Hugh Howey, as ever able to grasp the self-pub zeitgeist and turn polarizing debates into well-reasoned hope, responds to this theme in a new blog post titled “Sky Gazing”:
Which leads me to my final conclusion: The sky isn’t falling. The world is turning.
The sun goes down on one person while it comes up on someone else. This is a profession of cycles, of constant change. Hang around long enough, and the sun will come up on you again. People are freaking out largely because we’re seeing the first real revolution, the first time around. It got dark. That’s scary, but it’s normal. The sky falls, but it’s just as prone to rising.
Mr. Howey recently wrote another wonderful post concerning the related popular viewpoint that the “glut” of self-published work is somehow bad for authors. It’s not. More books means more diversity, more opportunity, and more reading for everyone. Channeling Gordon Gekko, Howey contends that the glut, in fact, is good:
You mostly hear about this glut nonsense from book producers, and they aren’t worried about an infinite number of books, they are worried about the finite number of wallets. They see every one of those ten trillion llama books as taking money out of their pockets, because they think every reader would enjoy their work if there was nothing else to read. They think if they could just limit the number of books, they’d sell more. They’d be richer. So is there any way to shut down the spigot? Any way of shaming people who write too fast, price too cheap, give ebooks away, serialize, participate in subscription services, etc? That’s the goal. To have more wallets spread among fewer people.
The tools you see employed to reach that goal are shame and fear-mongering. Ignore it. It’s all insane. These people miss the point, which is that the glut is good. The glut is golden. There’s never been a better time in history for literature.
Go work in a bookstore for a few years, and you’ll see what I mean. Even with tens of thousands of books in stock, you’ll encounter customer after customer who will walk in, browse for a while, and feel like they’ve already read everything that appeals to them. “When’s the next book from so-and-so coming out?” they’ll ask. “Why doesn’t anyone write such-and-such type of books anymore?”
Both posts are more than worth your time, and both send a message that we here at Evil Toad Press firmly endorse: don’t give up. Don’t believe the claims that the sky is falling. Don’t quit on your dream just because you didn’t become Stephen King or Anne Rice or, indeed, Hugh Howey overnight. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and in the end those who kept a steady pace and endured will see the greatest rewards. As Howey says in “Sky Gazing,” “The next big opportunity is right around the corner. No one knows what outlets will be available in five or ten years. With self-publishing, you own the rights to your work. Everything you write will be ready for the next big shift in the marketplace or in reader demand.”