Sue Quinn: It's a Great Day to Be a Writer

Dude.

Sue Quinn is here today.

SO TOTALLY STOKED!

If you haven't sampled Sue's books, you've got to give them a read. Open Minds is the first in the series, followed by Closed Hearts. I own them both and they're spectacular--smart, intriguing, and just super cool, like Sue herself. She's also wicked savvy when it comes to indie publishing, as you'll see from her post below.

In today's publishing world, we have more options than ever. It's definitely a great day to be a writer. As you probably know, Angela and I are self-published authors; we're clearly indie publishing believers. But we're also both pursuing traditional publishing for other projects, so we embrace the benefits of going that route, too. Both paths have value, and the advantages of each have evolved because of the fact that there are options now. Sue chose the self-publishing route, and she's thriving--with the YA audience, no less, an area of indie publishing where success is as evasive and fickle as the muse herself. So I'm excited to share her very experienced thoughts on self-publishing with you.


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I knew that Amazon had announced their new Kindles last week - one went straight on the wish list for my mom, who is desperate for a touch reader, her original 2010 Nook 1st Edition being ancient technology now.

What I didn't realize (until the awesome folks at The Writer's Guide to E-Publishing pointed it out) was that Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) gave a press conference. Amazon-loathers of the world, you should skip this part, because this video clip is pure love fest - Bezos loving writers and writers loving him back.


If you're skipping the video, here's the parting scene: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, leading applause of KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) authors in the audience, saying "This is transformative stuff."

Why? Why the love from a man whose vision is not to publish books or support authors, but to "be the earth's most customer centric company?"

Clearly, authors make money for Amazon. Before you dismiss that as hopelessly self-interested on Bezos part, think about what that means, when 70% of sales go directly to the indie authors themselves: authors making money for Amazon means they are making a lot MORE money for themselves.

This is an inversion of how publishing has worked in the past, when authors made far more money for their publishers than they did for themselves. This isn't a slam on traditional publishing, but a simple fact: the infrastructure of print (which meant the infrastructure of all publishing, in the past) was an upside down pyramid, with the creative efforts of the author having to support a mountain of rocks, known as paper distribution. With the advent of ebooks, that distribution system became much more efficient. Delivery is instantaneous and extremely inexpensive. There are no middlemen required between the author and the reader, no mountain of rocks the author must support. For the first time, the author is able to keep the lion-share of the earnings from their own creative work.

My mom has been following my writing career, since I first put fingertips to keyboard in pursuit of writing fiction in 2008. She's always been amazingly supportive, no matter what I've done with my life, but she's been flat astounded watching my self-publishing adventures. She told me one day, after one of the many articles I sent her, that she finally realized authors could actually make a living now at what they love. They are "living their dream to dream their livings" as Bufo Calvin said on WG2EP.

And that rocks in a major way.

If all this talk of money feels slightly sordid to you, as a person who does creative work, please understand what this means: making money enables authors to keep writing, write more, and write what they want.

THIS is the true reason why now is a great time to be a writer. For the first time, authors have true freedom to write whatever they please, as frequently as they please, in whatever genre at whatever length they please, without regard to whether it will sell - because the only one taking the risk is themselves. And my observation has been that writers are much greater risk-takers than publishers: it's the nature of creative workers vs. businessmen (of course, the most successful businessmen are also big risk-takers, but that's a different blog post).

I can't self-publish, because I don't want to spend all my time promoting. Then don't. Simply write and publish. The rest is optional. If you don't believe me, let me tell you the story of a short ebook written from the POV of a goat that made it big. There's no guarantee that your book will be widely loved; the only guarantee is that readers around the planet will have access to it. From there, it's up to you as an author to produce something that people want to read. Or to adore the five fans that "get" your work. Either way, you've done something most writers crave: connected with readers.

I can't self-publish, because I've always dreamed of being in bookstores. By all means, keep pursuing that dream. For some people, it will pay off - this has always been true, and continues to be. But there are choices now that were never available before, huge unexplored territories in the creative landscape that have been opened. Write a novella from the POV of a secondary character, just for fun? Do that. Write a series of novellas and publish them mere weeks apart? Try that. These are things you can't do in traditional publishing, and if you're not careful in the contract you sign, may be prohibited from doing on your own. If exclusively traditional publishing is your dream, pursue it, but understand the choice you are making and the freedoms you may be giving up to do so.

I can't self-publish, because that's the last resort for hacks who can't make it in traditional publishing. If this is still your reason, I can't help you. This has been disproven again and again. With 27 of the top 100 books on Amazon being self-published, there's a whole lot of holes in that bucket, and it's just not carrying water anymore.

Here's the plain truth: for the first time, your writing career is in your hands, something that's terrifying to many writers.

But I have faith in you.

If you're brave enough to put pen to paper in the first place, if you have the courage to pour your heart and soul into words on the page, if you dare to share your work with others, taking the slings and arrows of critique in a single-minded devotion to crafting the best story possible: you can handle the challenge of self-publishing in the ebook era.

And if you choose not to, the choice will still be there tomorrow. And that's a very good thing for all writers.
~*~



Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack series. You can find all her books on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and iTunes. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she spends most of her time writing, because she loves it even more than shiny tech gadgets. When she's not writing, you can find her wasting time playing on TwitterFacebook, and her blog.




In case you're not convinced that Sue is the reigning Queen of Awesome, she's giving away an e-copy of Open Minds to prove it. For a chance to win, leave a comment. And to double your odds, subscribe to her newsletter and indicate in your comment that you've signed up.

Thanks, Sue, for sharing! You have been and continue to be an inspiration to so many. And thanks for hosting me at your blogtoday. Musers, if you've got the time, please pop over and see what I've got to say about Change Begetting Growth.

35 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I absolutely loved when Jeff gave a round of applause to self published authors! I thought was pretty cool. And you're right, Sue. There are so many holes in that bucket!

Beth said...

A thought-provoking post -- and I don't think there's anything mercenary about discussing money. We have no reason to be embarrassed about wanting to make money from what we do!

Crystal Collier said...

Wow, 27 out of 100? My hubby keeps telling me to go that route, but I often state, I'm a chicken. Literally. If things don't work out in the next couple months though, he's going to publish me with our without consent, so I'm buoyed to hear those statistics. Thanks for the awesome post Sue. You're an inspiration.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Laura - wasn't Bezos's applause line great? :)

Thanks again to Becca for hosting me today! I know many author-friends who are doing both trad-pub and self-pub, or exclusively one or the other. I respect the writer's choice, and I think each path is valid. What's most important is for a writer to 1) have an eyes-wide-open approach to whichever path they're taking, and 2) know their goals/objectives so that they put themselves on the right path FOR THEM. I also think the right path can vary for books as well as individuals, and I still hold out hope that I'll one day be able to trad-pub my middle grade works (because I think that's still the best path for that genre). But I don't think I'll ever be able to give up self-pub: I enjoy it too much.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@Beth I completely agree, but some people seem to get uncomfortable about it, so I threw it in there - I think more writers need to embrace their inner businessperson! :)

@Crystal Your husband cracks me up! Whatever you decide, just remember: if fear is all that's holding you back, take that seriously. Look deep into that fear and figure out what it truly is. Name it, sit it down, have a conversation with it. Then take some kind of action (not necessarily self-pub; only you'll know what action it should be). Action saps the power out of fear like nothing else.

Bish Denham said...

I'm getting closer all the time.

Aimee Katherine said...

What a wonderful post. I was sceptical about self - publishing but now I might actually consider it.

Elle Strauss said...

Great post! I absolutely love being a self-published author :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@Bish Best of luck with your decision! You might find my post about why I decided to self-publish helpful.

@Aimee A LOT of previously skeptical people are not self-publishing, from new authors to bestsellers.

@Elle And you rock being a self-published author! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Adriana Ryan said...

Bookmarking this post as I embark on my self-publishing journey! I'm doing both, too, and the options are sometimes almost paralyzing. :D It's a great time to be a writer.

P.S.--Loved Open Minds!

Susanne Drazic said...

Enjoyed the guest post. I've also signed up for Sue's newletter.

Angela Ackerman said...

I think it's a wonderful thing that there are choices now. Traditional or not, for the first time writers are behind the wheel. They can choose their own route on the map, and build their careers in the way that suits them best.

Laurel Garver said...

It's the creative freedom that is so invigorating. Risk-taking isn't for everyone, but personally I'd rather have an opportunity for my manuscript to reach readers than gather dust bunnies, especially when I don't write a "hot" genre or fit neatly in a category.

Vive la revolution!

Pk Hrezo said...

Hi ladies! Yep Sue is awesome and it's so exciting how she's thriving.
Thanks for all the great advice, and I couldn't agree more. Now authors have a chance they never did and it's such a liberating feeling. I know an established romance novelist who's supported herself for years with her writing thru agents and trad pubbers. But she's been self-pubbing for the last few years and adores it. She said she'd never give up the freedom she has now.
Personally, I find it uber exciting and tempting to run my own business of book writing. *swoon* :)

Kai Strand said...

What an inspirational post. Thanks for including the great video, too.

Lisa Fowler said...

We write - like breathing air - because we must, to live. We must live, so it's necessary to make money. There's no need to be ashamed of making money. Too many are denied the privilege!

Carrie said...

considering how tough it is to be picked up by a traditional publisher, why not give self publishing a go? I'm not expecting riches beyond my wildest dreams if I get any of my stuff good enough to publish but hey, it's good story fodder for the grandkids, right?

Carrie said...

forgot to say I signed up for the newsletter :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@Adriana I'm so glad you liked Open Minds! Best of luck with your journey!

@Laurel I couldn't agree more - to me, the creative freedom is addictive.

@PK Thanks for your sweet words! As your friend as found, it's very difficult to go back, once you've had that taste of freedom.

@Lisa Hear, hear! *saysthebusinesswoman* :)

@Carrie Best of luck with your books - and I think that should be our motto: live life well enough to provide good stories for your grandkids. :)

Becca Puglisi said...

I'm a big fan of choices. America is the great place it is because of the free market. Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors. That about covers it.

Thanks so much for posting, Sue!

The Golden Eagle said...

It's fascinating how self-publishing is becoming--over time--a common thing for a writer to do.

Great post!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Such a great post Susan. I love that there is freedom and choice now. It's really great to have options. Otherwise we feel like we have no control. Thanks for always being so willing to share your advice on how to self-publish.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@Eagle The thing that shocks me is how FAST the change has been!

@Natalie Thanks so much! For someone like me, who has a high need for autonomy and control, it's really a good fit. I also have this irrepressible need to share. :)

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss susan@ wow! cool post. yikes! so much things to think about for publishing. for me im thinking i like what you said to just choose what works best for you.
...hugs from lenny

Martha Ramirez said...

Wow you TOTALLY hit home with me as I have been debating on whether to take the plunge for my debut. I am a big dreamer who wants to do both. Thank you so much for such an awesome post! Nice to meet you BTW.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@lenny You are awesome, little man! Thanks for stopping by!

@Martha I'm so glad that you found the post helpful. There have been so many writers that have helped me along the way, it's very gratifying when I can pay some of that forward. Best of luck with your journey!

Kelly Polark said...

Great discussion!
And I have Open Minds already (yay!), so take me out of the running and another lucky person can read it! :)

LTM said...

Susan is MADE OF AWESOMENESS!!! She is just the greatest indie promoter, helper, encourager, cheerleader... and she's totally RIGHT! Indie publishing empowers writers, and however much you want to do, whatever level of risk you want to take, it's all up to us. It's really incredible. Great post! :o) <3

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@LT Aw, LT! You are so sweet. :)

E. Arroyo said...

It's a great time to be an artist across the board. Yay!

Traci Kenworth said...

I love the way you remind us how the floodgates have opened. For me, it's all about getting my work out there, whether that takes an indie or traditional route, I'll enjoy the ride.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@Traci That's a fantastic attitude to have!

LynNerdKelley said...

I love Sue's books. Polished, thrilling, and awesome. Looking forward to book three in the Mindjack series!

Becca Puglisi said...

Congrats to Traci for winning the giveaway of Open Minds! Thanks, everyone, for commenting. And thank you, Sue, for sharing!

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