Rant: You know, that last blog post of mine was awful. I was busy at the conference, looked at my emails late at night, and decided to simply re-post something I'd written recently. In retrospect, that was a bad decision. Michael Hyatt, the President of Thomas Nelson, had written a blog post about "why agents may be opposed to self-publishing," and I wanted to quickly get something up in response. In doing so, I failed to adequately touch on his points. Worse, my words suggested Mike was purposefully not telling the truth about the way his business is run. That's a huge disservice to Mike, a man I like and respect. Nor did it really add anything to the conversation. So... Mike, I apologize for that. I was wrong. The next time I'm in Nashville, I'll buy you a fish taco.
Rave: Mr. Hyatt spent a lot of time responding to comments on his blog, http://michaelhyatt.com , and I recommend you read not only his blog but the discussion in the "comments" section. There are good points made from all sides. It's worth a look. I'm not enthusiastic at the way literary agents are referenced in this particular post, but Thomas Nelson has a track record of working with agents, so I'm taking Mike's notes in the comments section to heart.
Rant: Just so we're clear, this particular agent isn't opposed to self-publishing. (In fact, I've self-published books.) I didn't much like the image Mike used at the top of his blog (a bunch of supposed agents pointing fingers and screaming), but I don't really care if Thomas Nelson gets into the self-pubbing business or not. I think the industry is changing, and we're going to see more of these types of difficult decisions. I'm still of the opinion that (1) most self-publishing exist to take money from uninformed wannabe writers, (2) as a novelist it is EXTREMELY rare to find any success at all with a self-pubbed book, so therefore (3) the people who will have success with a self-published book are nonfiction writers with a mechanism for selling their books.
Rave: I'd also like to point people to Rachelle Gardner's excellent blog, http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/, where she spoke to the issue with a lot of passion. I think she said it best when she noted that self-publishing "is an alternative to regular, royalty-paying, commercial publishing, not a stepping stone to it." Good stuff, Rachelle!
Rant: I have now heard from more than 100 Ted Dekker fans, who have convinced me that I'm wrong -- there are PLENTY of readers who found deep spiritual truths in his novels. Okay, I was wrong. I should have kept in mind that one diner likes chocolate, another vanilla. My bad. (For those not in the know, this got started when bestselling novelist Ted Dekker blogged about a list of words he'd discovered on a publisher's website that were not to be used by Christian romance writers.) AND I need to add that there were certainly a couple words on that list Ted mentioned that did, in fact, concern me... "priest," for one.
Rave: I had a great conversation with Ted Dekker about all this, and he was very gracious. He has taken steps to try and let people know he wasn't trying to demean all romantic novelists. The two of us decided that we are still friends, and still don't want a Celebrity Death Match (which is a good thing, since Ted is younger than me).
Rant: Now Harlequin is jumping into the self-publishing game. They made a big, splashy announcement about "Harlequin Horizons," which is a new vanity press they set up for those who want to do their own romance novels. Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America immediately called them out, since the marketing language certainly makes it seem as though an author paying for the privilege of self-publishing a book with that imprint is given the impression that they are part of the Harlequin family, and therefore a Harlequin author (specifically, they referred to this as a "gateway for aspiring authors"). Again, I don't care if a publisher wants to try new ideas in order to make extra income in a lousy economy. But they have to be careful to not over-promise. There's no way Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Books-a-Million starts stocking self-published books. Perhaps Harlequin, like Thomas Nelson, promises they're going to be reviewing the self-pubbed titles for possible publication down the road. But be aware, fiction writers... it is a rare thing indeed to self-publish your novel and have anyone buy it.
Rave: This has nothing to do with publishing, but for the first time in my life (and I'm 51) the Oregon Ducks will play the Oregon State Beavers for the Pac 10 Championship and the right to go to the Rose Bowl. Life is sweet here in Oregon. And... GO DUCKS!