The Different Drummer

I was disturbed by a thread on Twitter today. The discussion involved Traditional publishing versus Indie publishing. I've seen this type of "Us vs Them" conversation before, but it's always been indie authors speaking out against Big Publishing. I've never read anything where indie writers bashed traditional writers. (I've read attempts to lure them to the dark side, yes, but no bashing.)

Which is why I was saddened to see writers who are pursuing traditional publication saying things such as "they're lazy," "they can't take criticism" and "they can't handle rejection" about those who choose to go Indie. What?

I'm not lazy. I'm not even going to go into that further. This is just a fact.

I take criticism in the usual way - as in, sure, blunt criticism can hurt my feelings, and I have to wade through what to absorb and what to throw out when I get it. But I have trusted critique partners and beta readers, and they give me honest feedback, good and bad. When it's negative, I consider the source, the advice, and whether or not it goes against what I feel is right for the story/ character/ genre/ my own personal beliefs. If I hear the same thing from two or more people, I've been known to make changes even against my own leaning, because I trust the source of the criticism.

That leaves "can't handle rejection." Hmm. It's true, I've bypassed agent rejection. And, I suppose, editor rejection and publishing house rejection, because they'll probably never see my stuff. But I'm not bypassing what I consider to be the big one: possible reader rejection. I can bypass agents all I want, but if I put out a book that never sells, where am I?

Indie authors, like traditional authors, deal with rejection every time someone puts a bad review on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads or a personal blog. No one is immune to having their work called "kinda crap," no matter who they are - and 99.9% of readers don't give indie authors a pass on editing, grammar or style just because we didn't get the benefit of an Big Six editor. Why should they? Readers pay good money to read something interesting, not to coddle the writer.

My opinion of all of this: Bitches, please. There's no reason for authors to fight. Yes, Big Publishing has been a bully, and it's getting some overdue comeuppance. However, I don't believe for a second that it's going down. It will evolve, as it should have been doing all along. And hopefully, with lower book prices (thanks to the digital marketplace), all authors capable of making sales to the general public will benefit.

I support great agents, editors and publishers, and of course the authors who climb the mountain of traditional publishing. But I decided that for me, personally, it wasn't worth my time to pursue. It's not unusual for me to sidestep the usual way of doing things. I'm my own different drummer, after all.

“If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Tammara Webber

New York Times and international bestselling author of contemporary romantic fiction