I had the pleasure of sitting down over a late lunch with Diane Gaston, one of my heroes in romance writing whose books have been published by Harlequin and Warner. I met Diane six years ago at a Washington Romance Writers meeting. Since I’m shy, she’s the only person I spoke to in the two hours I was there. We’ve traded emails since then but hadn’t had a chance to sit down together until this past Saturday.
A lot of our discussion centered around the changing publishing landscape, the impact of emerging ebook technology, and the two camps of writers that seem to have formed. There’s been a growing divide between those authors who have been traditionally published and those who are indies. This divide seems to pit the majority of them against each other, which each having found a reason to resent the other and being quite vocal about it.
Diane and I are a lot alike: good people who love to write. Neither of us has two heads or spews fire; neither of us goes to sleep thinking, ‘if only I had taken a different route to being published’ or ‘screw those indies/traditionally published!’ We’re writers first, all else second, and this understanding is probably why we clicked so well. The main difference between us: we chose different publishing paths.
I find it odd that this personal choice – which is exactly what it is – has caused so much angst among writers and can’t help but think it has everything to do with emotion and nothing to do with reason. If we writers were to unite and demand the publishing industry change to a more sustainable business model that also rewards traditionally published writers and makes its services available to indies, we’d be an unstoppable force. Instead, writers fight each other while the industry as a whole staggers to keep pace with technological advancement and hang onto readers when the shelf space is shrinking and eReaders are quickly becoming the tech toy of the day.
In a philosophical sense, aren’t both camps of writers part of the greater writing machine? Why on earth would I want to see my fellow writers fail? Whether indie or traditional, the options now afforded by epublishing have annihilated the status quo. Indies have a direct avenue to publish, market, and distribute to readers, and the traditionally published have a negotiating tool for rights/royalties and the ability to keep their backlists active as ebooks after their contracts expire. Technology doesn’t discriminate against indies or traditionally published, and neither should we.
Maybe I’ll be considered a traitor to my indie colleagues, but Diane is my friend, the person I credit with encouraging me during the part of my life when I almost gave up on my writing. I’m not going to lose her because we chose different paths, and I’m never going to think poorly of her – or others – who choose the traditionally published path. I’m going to support all my fellow writers, because that’s simply the way it should be.