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The Many Paths to The Top

Once upon a time, the world of publishing was the staid, conservative, New York-centered world of the erudite and the elite. This was the only path. Literary Mavens, whether they be agent or editor, made decisions, based on their own personal and well-honed tastes, as to what books would or would not get a publication date. They read manuscripts, they edited books, they lunched, they had client and author relationships measured by decades. Their names were well-known and their decisions and favor carried a ripple-effect through the entire publishing world…

Perhaps if your publishing career started before 2010 but if you began publishing anywhere in the last 5 years, the above sounds more like a page from an historical romance than an article on the current-state of publishing. While the primary goals for ( most) authors with regards to publication remain the same: 1. Write a great story, 2. Make some money from the work of writing a great story, and 3. Have a career-which also means a relationship with readers, the path to achieving these goals has drastically changed. Actually…the original path, the path that leads through the old-school process:

1. Query Letter to agent
2. Agent
3. Submission to House
4. Purchase by Editor at House
5. Publication
6. Relationship with readers

hasn’t changed all that much. What has changed, is that instead of one, single, path up the mountain to publication, there is a multitude of paths.

With the success of Indie publishing, there is a new way to achieve the three primary goals that most authors share. Now, instead of this well-worn path requiring that you 1) get an agent and 2) be purchased by a house, before you can develop a relationship with readers you can, go directly to the reader. Hip-hip-hooray! Power to the Author! Bring on the BIG BUCKS!

Ha. Maybe. But most likely, no. With all these new freedoms, comes a whole world of responsibility.

When you Indie pub you are now, not only an author, but you are also a publisher. Which, in my humble opinion, requires that you treat your creative endeavor, not only as a creative endeavor, but as a business too. Now please, I’m not implying that authors didn’t treat their writing as a business before Indie came along, no, of course not. I published traditionally in 2008 and I guarantee you that I treated my work with a traditional publisher as a business, but what I am saying is that when I trad-pubbed I had a team of people helping me. A team that had published a multitude of books before they published mine. Like anything in life, this has positives and this has negatives, but their experience also padded my learning curve and everything I learned as a trad-author about the publishing process I took with me into my Indie career.

I also took my agent. I took the knowledge that I’m not a professional editor, nor am I a graphic-designer. I learned that, I, cannot do all the jobs, all the time. Not and maintain my sanity. I learned, over time, that I needed a publishing schedule, a promo-schedule, and a 5-year plan. For my personal path, I wanted the knowledge of a publishing professional, my agent, who I could turn to with questions regarding the market and my career. Again, every-one has their own path in Indie with different stops along the way.

I guess, that’s why I am a fan of the changes that have happened in publishing. I’ve never been a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of girl. I dig the unusual, the new, the strange, as well as the tried-and-true. I like that niche audiences, who didn’t, from a bottom-line corporate analysis, make sense to serve stories to, are now being served stories they want, by amazing authors and those amazing authors can actually make a wage with these niche audiences because the royalty structure is flipped and the author has cut out the middle-man (publishing house). I also like how even though, we as authors, have the flexibility to experiment with stories and Indie, we can also decide to work with a trad-house should we so choose. There is no-longer one path up the mountain to our goals, now there is a multitude of ways to get to the top.

Happy writing!


Maggie Marr is an author, producer, and attorney. She’s worked in entertainment for over fifteen years and got her start in Hollywood pushing the mail cart. Her boutique (code for small) legal practice is dedicated to the needs of entrepreneurs & creatives. She also writes romance and women’s fiction. When she isn’t negotiating deals or writing books, you can find her chasing her children or the family’s rescue pup. If you want to hear more about Maggie’s life or her books, you can find her at www.maggiemarr.net or on FB at Maggie Marr Books or on Twitter @maggiemarr

You can find her latest Christmas novella in the anthology Home for the Holidays which released November 14th and can be purchased through Amazon here.