Been noticing quite a bit of recent talk about pathways to success as an author. Also, noticing that some people are making full pronouncements on the proper way to have an author career. I’ll admit, it’s been bugging me a little.

Especially when said people are known quantities and on the larger side of either major path (indie or trad). 

The use of absolutes is always a little jarring, since there’s so few things that are absolutely right especially when it comes to humans. The world is filled with grays (in my view, I know some see everything in black and white); so these talks about ‘Indie publishing is the best way to make money’ or ‘Trad pub means your work is better’ or other less hackeneyed concepts can be jarring.

Now, I am a big proponent of indie publishing. It’s what I do, it’s the choice I made. I think most people should be looking at it as a viable career pathway, because of how bad pay is with most trad pub, how little they sell, etc. 

But I also know that I’m rather lucky. I have both the mindset and experience at doing business (and education!) that makes running a publishing business easy. Yes, easy. It’s certainly a lot easier than handle a game store with commercial leases and inventory and shipping expenses and personnel and taxes and tiny, tiny profit margins.


Even knowing that, I sometimes have to catch myself (sometimes unsuccessfully) suggesting everyone go indie. Not everyone is geared towards being an entrepreneur. Not everyone should be running a business. 

I used to have a boss who was really into the top grading, Jack Welch idea of A/B/C players. That everyone should be an A player in the company (which didn’t make sense, but whatever). My biggest problem was that sometimes, you just wanted people who were happy with their current role – because they provided stability and knowledge. That if you had super hungry, super motivated employees in every role, you’d see – by definition – huge turnover. Because there’s only so much you can fit (no matter how fast you grow).

That’s kind of the same thing here with asking everyone to be indie publishers. Not everyone is fit for it. Not everyone’s life gives them the luxury of spending a lot of money on covers and editing (or the time you can substitute to learn the skills to avoid paying out). Some people are single parents, some people have to work 2-3 different jobs just to make rent. Others just don’t have the base knowledge (yet) to do things like covers or social media.

Other times its mental blocks, psychological or physical issues, etc. that just take away from the ability to do things. I deal with chronic pain issues constantly. It’s not fun, but it’s not crippling.

Others I know have it even worse. 

The point being, going trad can be easier. Sure, there are significant tradeoffs in terms of income and potential longevity. But some people don’t want to write 1-4 books a year. Some type of writing isn’t suitable for indie audiences. 

And sure, there are pitfalls to trad. But so too indie.

Success (big success) is often a matter of luck. How much varies, but that initial burst of readers? That’s often pure luck. Building upon it, keeping and staying successful; I’d say requires more than just luck.

But those who have been at it a while, they often forget that initial part was pure luck. Or they assign it to something else. And forget that people just as talented, just as hard working, just as deserving haven’t made it not because of lack of trying, but lack of luck.

Anyway, my minor rant. 

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