Any author who isn't considering opening up their own publishing imprint in 2017 is living in the fucking dark ages. Pardon the F word. Sure, publish traditionally. Give to Caesar what is Caeser's. But by all means, take control of your career, and take advantage of all the publishing opps out there, including independent publishing platforms like KDP and D2D.
Publish, not once a year, or twice a year, but all the time. Publish non-stop. Don't let any publishing professionals, agent or editor, tell you you're wearing yourself too thin. Don't take their advice at all in fact when it comes to production and the proliferation of your words. Proliferation scares them. It goes against their traditional mindset. It makes them feel like they are losing control.
What scares the writing traditionalists and academy elites the most? A non-traditional writer who sells. A writer who writes what he wants to write, how he wants to write it. A writer who doesn't bend over to the PC lockstep culture. A writer who refuses to be emasculated by the system. I made well over six figures last year publishing the shit I make up, one way or another. I don't have to teach, I don't have to work at another job I hate. I don't have to grow old and irrelevant by punching a clock for some other asshole. Like the song goes, I live life my way.
You can too, but it takes a crap load of work. In mean time, here's a little advice about 5 traditional publishing rules your should break!
1. Don't sign a contract if you don't have to. Here's why: the publisher will break it if it wants to. You however, being an author and therefore powerless in the publisher's mind, will be expected to adhere to the letter of the law. When it comes to publishers, well, they feel they control your fate. So, like a pilot that purposely crashes the plane into a mountainside, they can tank your book if they so choose. Or they can veer away from the mountain, and make it a bestseller. Once you sign away your rights, they control everything. So bring along a parachute and don't sign if you don't have to.
2. If you must sign a contract, make sure there's no bullshit in there about non-compete clauses, or anything that holds onto your rights, paper or electronic, for more than a period of seven years. Anything more than that, and tell them to hit the road. Publish it under your savvy new imprint and control your own destiny.
3. When your publisher tells you to slow down, nod politely, then write and publish as many stories and novels as possible. Write, publish, repeat. Don't listen to their rules. I've worked with a half dozen major, medium, and small publishers over the course of a 20 year career. Almost every editor, editor in chief, and marketing person I've been involved with over that period are now gone baby gone. If nothing else, professional publishing is a revolving door. No one cares about you, no matter how much they pretend. Take care of yourself first, and publish everything.
4. Don't suck up to get ahead. If you're like me, a hybrid publishing traditionally and independently, you're still going to find yourself in situations (especially in New York City and LA), where you're going to have to suck up to somebody. Be nice, treat others with the same respect you expect, but don't suck up to get ahead. It's humiliating. Remember, this is 2017, not 2007 or 1997 for that matter. You, the writer, have far more control over the publisher than you think. They need you more than the other way around. What a liberating concept. Like I said, be nice, work with them, market the work they produce for you to the best of your ability. But expect them to work for you as well. Your relationship with them should be a working relationship of mutual admiration and respect. Not one of the writer on his knees and the publisher with his pants unzipped.
5. You don't need to attend every writers conference on the planet. These are expensive events that are usually attended by the old guard elite who are often paid to be there. Sure, conferences can be fun sometimes, especially for the more social butterfly-like writers. But again, it's one of those situations where conferences need you, more than you need them. It's a cash cow suck up fest. So if you enjoy sucking up while emptying your pockets, go for it.
I could add a sixth rule to break here, like do not waste your money on an MFA, but I'll save that for an essay down the road. For now, just write. Write everyday, write with abandon, write for yourself because that's who you are. Carve those precious gems. Write for traditional publishers but proceed with caution. They will do their best to control you. So don't let them. Control your own destiny. Be your own man. Doesn't matter your gender, grow a new set of balls, and establish your own rules and live by them. Thrive by them.
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