But just in case you haven't been following all of it, the upshot is this: Amanda Hocking is an "indie" publishing phenomenon (aka self-published writer) who, according to a recent USA Today article, sold more than 450,000 copies of her ebooks in January. Just in January. Not through one of The Big Six traditional publishing houses (as J.A. Konrath calls them), but straight from her computer to digital bookstores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I don't know how to explain what she's done. I'm not sure anybody really can explain exactly how it happened. But the fact that she—and lots of other independently e-published writers—have done it raises all sorts of questions. You know, little questions. Little easy questions like, Who am I? What am I doing here?
And my particular favorite, at the age of 48, What do I want to be when I grow up?
Questions I used to know the answers to.
Hi, I'm Yvonne and I'm a writer. Some day a publisher in NY will buy one of my books and bookstores will put it on their shelves and I will be able to hold it in my hands.
That used to be the answer.
For almost 40 freaking years, that was the answer.
But the economy sucks and publishing is adjusting and making cuts, just like any other business. And now you can self publish without having to buy cases of your own book and then selling it out of the trunk of your car.
You can format it for digital platforms and upload it to Amazon and B&N where story-hungry readers are trolling for low-priced ebooks and depending on how much effort you put into promoting yourself, you too might become an indie publishing success.
The thing about answers, though, is that once you figure them out, once you've got them fixed in your mind, they're really really nice to hold onto.
And really really hard to let go.
That sound you're hearing out there in the world of writing, that low, sub-woofer-y, bone-rattling noise that you're hearing is the sound of our long-held dreams hitting the rumble strips as we take the exit ramps off the publishing highway. We need to pull over and have a think.
We in the Rockville 8 are all—to varying degrees and in different ways—struggling with these questions. And so far, like the title of this post says, we have no answers.
What about you?
If you're a writer are you thinking about publishing straight to digital? Or is that too far away from your dream?
If you're a reader, do you pay any attention to who publishes the books you read? Would it make any difference to you if you found out the book that's been keeping you turning the pages wasn't published by one of the traditional publishing houses?
Inquiring minds want to know . . .
Image purchased from istockphoto.com