I read a great article by Mercy Pilkington, as it not only illustrates how difficult it is for independent authors to break into the industry but also the BS that’s perpetrated by higher ups in the industry to prevent indie authors from getting ahead. I can say for a fact that the Canadian book industry is just as biased towards independent authors. Adding to Pilkington’s article, government-funded organizations such as the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA)—with regards to authors—only hands out grants to those they refer to as ‘professional writers.’ What’s their definition of a professional writer? Someone who’s not self-published. By that definition, Joe The Plumber and Sarah Palin are considered to be professional writers, even though Joe’s first book tanked and Harper Collins claimed that Palin didn’t even write what they considered to be a book. Although it may be their intention to promote the arts in Canada, they’re doing the opposite because by excluding Indie authors, the CCA is hurting many careers.
Those who’ve read any of my books would know that they’re all professionally edited, have professionally-designed book covers, and are professionally researched. They can also be found in bookstores and in libraries across the island of Montreal and in Barbados. I also do my own promotion, attend book expos, and even got a television interview last summer.
What’s good about being traditionally published is that the publisher takes care of the editing and distribution of their books. On the flip side, even if an author is traditionally-published, publishers won’t necessary allocate huge funds that are needed to promote them—leaving their authors to do most of the marketing themselves. Furthermore in most cases, the author has no say on how the book cover will look. As for the price (which is usually very high) publishers control that too. When that’s all done, the author usually only keeps 10-15% royalty off of the sale of their own book. On the other hand, independent authors usually keep 70%.
There’s a popular myth that all indie novels are substandard. Rubbish. Not all traditionally-published authors are bestsellers. To be fair, I’ve read some great novels that were traditionally published. Consequently I’ve also read some that were so bad that I wondered how high on crack the editor was when they chose to accept the manuscript.
Mercy Pilkington did a great job exposing the truths about the publishing industry in general. As for my opinion about the Canada Council for the Arts, I don’t have any respect for them. With the funds they receive from the Canadian government, would it hurt them to have a grant section that’s reserved for indie authors? By the same token, would it be to their detriment that they recognize the achievements of Canadian indie authors. By implementing guidelines that are designed to exclude an important segment of the arts community, they not only come across as being unprofessional and uninformed, but also a sad bunch of elitists.
UPDATE: Since the publication of Pilkington’s article, The Canada Council for the Arts updated their policy. Independent authors are eligible for some grants.