For those of you in a hurry, the short answer is because I choose not to. For those reading who have a few moments, read on. I am about to explain in detail why nobody should be going the traditional route.
For those of you who don’t already know, the original Gunship manuscript actually got a bit of attention from TOR Books. Did they shower me with candy and flowers? No. Did we sing the “Ballad of Serenity” together over the phone? Afraid not. In fact, we never spoke on the phone. After reading about a third of the story they sent me a single email. Never extended an offer officially, but the fact that it had even been read by them means I beat the odds. You see, for years upon years traditional publishing companies were the gate keepers. They held all of the keys in terms of a career in writing.
It was that very email which sent me onto the path of self-publishing. You see, it was made clear to me up front that a TOR Gunship would include no Dalton James, have no Hunters and Amanda Elizabeth would never appear on the cover. She didn’t have the “right look” for science fiction. It was explained that in order to pull as many sales in as possible, I would have to write the story a bit more on the normal science fiction standard. Reach a larger group of potential readers. In other words, Tor was asking me to change Gunship so we could all make more money.
A couple of problems here. First off, I don’t write for the money. I write because the characters in my head force me to. Second, I can’t do normal. I’m not your typical gator logo wearing author who golfs on Sunday. I am a strange cat, obsessed with the idea that science fiction and steampunk can be mixed with a western theme and still kick ass. I’m also obsessed with Bille Piper, but that’s another story for another day. In other words, I will never water down my product for the dollar(formally known as the all-mighty dollar, but with the economy these days). My readers are not the generic kind, they are intelligent enough to see the humor in Gunship and cool enough to know that whiskey drinking vampires trump little green men in silver spaceships.
I don’t blame TOR for trying to make money, it would be my guess that other traditional publishing houses think the same way. And it’s also a big reason as to why they are falling like houses made of cards. No, my fan base isn’t massive, not everyone can sit down and read the Gunship series and “get it”. But those who do, have jumped in and helped me promote it with zeal. And because of them, last month Gunship: Dual Strike hit the #10 spot in science fiction(Kindle) briefly. That means a lot of TOR authors, in no uncertain terms, got their asses kicked. Some authors feel the need to be accepted, they need a traditional publishing company to pat them on the head and say “good job” while picking their pockets of hard earned royalties. I don’t. You’ll also hear a lot of “buzz” that self-published authors write poorly or aren’t that bright when it comes to marketing. In many cases this may be true.
Of course, there are the rest of us. Self-published authors with the taste of blood. Let this be a letter of notice for the traditional publishing companies across the world. We are coming.