I haven’t had what my father would call a real job since 1991. The factors that make that so are all tied up in being a writer and editor.
Years after training as a journalist, working in newspapers and working in the publishing industry, I went back to school again to become a massage therapist, too. The reasons why were varied, but the most important factor was that I wanted to work for myself. I have an independent streak and I hated working for The Man. I still hate working for The Man. Writing, editing, therapeutic massage: it’s all independent work. There is no hierarchy. The Chazz does not do hierarchy.
But a lot of people do. Most people have a boss. The fact is, I don’t understand how they stand it. I pull at authority’s leash so hard I have sometimes hurt myself in tiny acts of rebellion.
Despite the rebel yell, the truth is I have many bosses. Everyone I encounter in my practices as an editor, writer and massage therapist is my boss. I have chosen many bosses instead of one. I have chosen one-to-one interaction instead of dealing with a group. I deal with people for an hour at a time or for short projects, always with an eye to where the next project will come from. There’s no security in this. My income goes up and down unpredictably.
On the other hand, with all that I do, there is the security of knowing they can’t all fire me at one time. If you have one boss who wants to lose you on a whim, they can do that. That’s the smug solace of the lone wolf.
But lots of people accept authority as the way of the world. That’s becoming less true as massive unemployment forces some to seek out their own solutions and form their own businesses. Entrepreneurship used to seem like it was for the few who chose the harder way. Now, when so many can’t find work, starting up a sole proprietorship and going for it is forced upon them.
Here’s what I notice: People are just wired one way and not the other. Most massage therapists and writers I know have an independent streak. We have to grit our teeth a bit to do something that is in many ways outside money’s eco-system.
But there are a bunch of therapists who do, in fact, want to work for somebody. They want someone else to take care of the laundry, the advertising, the tax paperwork and anything else that doesn’t directly relate to physically doing the work. They love that they can come into the office, do their thing and leave without another thought to the running of the business. I wouldn’t call it freedom, but they do.
In the past, the publishing industry has been built on the hierarchical model. Someone else will publish your book. Someone else will take care of the editing and (some) of the promoting and it will all be part of one complete package. Thanks to technology, authors are discovering they have more options than history has provided.
For authors deciding when to make the leap to independent publishing, there is a lot to consider: market factors, price points and leveraging your platform to sell enough books to make the enterprise profitable.
Beyond the practical and esoteric (which must be figured out, too) you have to start with the personal: you. Which way are you bent? Do you want someone else to take care of things (and give them a deeper cut of the profits and losses)? Are you up for the nitty-gritty of doing the work of many on your own? Can you hire an editor, find a publicist, do the research and build your audience? It won’t be easy. You’ll have to talk with a lot of people and the greater your network the more chance you’ll get your feelings hurt. When the mesh of your network tightens to a closer knit, there will be friction.
Only you can decide if you have enough of the anti-authoritarian, do-it-my-way, I’m-a-control-freak, entrepreneurial-bent. Once you’ve figured that out, here’s a great article that explores the location of the tipping point between traditional publishing and going indie.
No matter which way you are wired, if you’re a writer you’ve got a muse.
Next stop on the Reality Train:
Self-publishing has developed to a point where it is neither good nor bad. Depending on your temperament, it could be a solid choice or a horrible one.
- Writers: Why self-publishing sucks (and what you can do about it) (chazzwrites.wordpress.com)