There's nothing quite so much fun as lively discussion about who's sunk to the bottom. This said with much sarcasm. It both fascinates and dismays me to find that people seem to have a need to knock others down.
When I started writing, ebooks were the red-headed stepchild. Back in 2005, there were three notable romance epublishers. I was a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and had actually been introduced to my first publisher (an electronic publisher) through my local RWA. When I signed a contract and wanted to share my good news, my "supportive" group snubbed me. I apparently wasn't writing "real" books. Lovely.
Fast forward a few years and erotic romance becomes the new least favorite of the genres. Why? I have no idea, but telling people, even fellow romance writers, that I wrote erotic romance was akin to telling them I slaughtered small children, puppies and kittens for kicks. And God forbid those right-minded folks in the Bible Belt hear of it. One woman didn't want our kids to play together for fear my son might taint hers. Yes, because I often use a four-year-old to plot erotic scenes. Okay, she was a dumbass.
Fast forward a few more years, and self-publishing is lauded as nonsense. According to the proverbial "they"--only those who can't get published by a real publisher do it themselves. And then Amanda Hocking broke the ceiling. A new author, not well-known, who managed to sell over a million copies of a young adult book. Suddenly self-publishing, relabeled Indie (independent) publishing, didn't look so bad. Others jumped on the bandwagon and saw success.
Now it's 2013. Ebooks and digitial-first lines are common in the large NY publishing houses. Ebooks sales gross more and more of the publishing pie every year. With the phenomenal success of Fifty Shades of Grey, erotic romance has pretty much gone mainstream. Authors are self-publishing and many are making a living doing so.
Which brings me to my next group of those considered by some to be persona non grata. Agents.
Who thought that would ever be the case? Personally, I think agents still have their place. In the print world with large publishing houses, good agents--note, I said good--can swing authors better deals and better contract terms. But in the indie and small press world, I just don't see a need for them. I've heard of authors verbally attacking agents on Twitter and Facebook, declaring in broad, sneering terms their uselessness. And I've also heard of agents--yes, agents--foaming at the mouth and throwing gibes at authors who dare question their necessity.
And the ugliness continues.
I just think it's interesting that for so long, authors have been the bottom of the food chain when without authors, there is no work to edit, agent, or produce. Now to see agents getting a sense that they aren't worth keeping around stuns, baffles, and yes, intrigues me. It's like watching a train wreck and being unable to look away.
Hearing for years that professionals know the market better than I do, when I read hundreds of romances a year and have for over twenty years, made little sense to me. But then, I'm biased and invested in my own work, so of course I'm not clearheaded about my projects. I do, however, know what readers like. Not necessarily what sounds marketable, but what an actual reader will read. Now that indie publishing is big, I think those same professionals are realizing that for the first time in a long time, readers are making themselves heard. Books that the old Big 6 might never have found marketable are readable, and being sold in droves.
It's a brave, fun, scary, exciting new world out there. And it all rests with the readers, finally, as it should.