I was having a discussion with my mother just yesterday where she was complaining about how a book series began. I told her fantasy readers value “world building.” The novelists had to set up the world before they could capture their readership and roll out the plot. She said she didn’t like it, but she’s not necessarily their target audience. This got me to thinking about the world of independent authors.
If someone spends any time in writer discussions or blogs, they will discover this new trend of bypassing publishing houses. Writers as their own publishers; it is an intriguing idea. No gatekeepers. No sending letter after letter to try to capture a busy agent’s attention for the shot at a chance of success. The door is now wide open for authors. Wrote a book? It can be published in the matter of a click of a button. In the “old days,” which was five years ago, I couldn’t attend a conference without sessions about how to “write to the market” or “how to capture an agent’s attention on the first page.”
Now that this isn’t a roadblock, writers are free to write whatever fancies them. Want to mix cowboys with evil dragons? Sure. Want to write a murder mystery set in ancient Greece with Merlin as the main character. Why not? Maybe because, while this topic interests the writer, it won’t interest anyone else? To a certain extent, writers are selfish people. Yes, I’m lumping myself into this and please hear me out before hating me. We got into the writing business because we love to create. We build worlds and fall in love with this picture in our minds. Sometimes, the joy from this creation is better than the real world. After all, I can’t control other people’s actions—not to mention know exactly what the other person is thinking/feeling—in the real world. The created world is easier to engage in…if you get over the whole “it’s not real” thing. It is all about us and our joy within the creation. But, I do believe that we need an outsider to tell us what is not transferring from our head to the page. I also believe we need someone to tell us that maybe people would baulk at the idea of Merlin hanging out in ancient Greece…unless there is a really, really good/intriguing reason.
Sometimes I think too much freedom is a bad thing. We live in a world where I could stay up all night, party and not go into work if I don’t want to. Is that a good idea? Not unless my goal in life is to be a bum and burden on my family for the rest of my life. Likewise, we live in a world where I could write whatever I want and throw it out into the universe. But, I believe some of the old standards should still apply. I still need to think of the genre and what appeals to my market. I still need to have others edit and help me polish my work. We need to acknowledge that maybe publishers had certain standards for a reason. What do you think?