Don't get me wrong. I'm not against Kindle. I own one for goodness sake and, while it might take a long time or even forever to lose that thrill of the texture, aroma and sight of a 'proper' book, I am in awe of the way I just click on buy and there before me, in less than a minute, the words are downloaded onto my sleek, slim Kindle. I even stroke it from time to time (sad person that I am) but it has its advantages and disadvantages and I have yet to fall in love with it.
But this post is not about the Kindle as a reading devise. It's about Kindle as an easy way to download that manuscript those stupid agents and publishers have rejected. 'I'll show 'em,' you say. 'I'll sell shed-loads of copies because I know my book and believe in it and know how to sell and market it. They'll be sorry.'
Maybe they will. After all, there are plenty of authors who have become famous for doing just that. We've all read about them. But that doesn't make it a sensible option for the majority. Notice as well, I am not talking about publishers who download their author's books on Kindle as well as in paper from or those e-publishers who work like traditional publishers in that they don't publish anything that comes their way, edit scrupulously and market judiciously. Nor do I include authors such as Nicola Morgan who has a wealth of writing and publishing experience behind her and knows exactly what she's doing. And more importantly, knows about the writing and publishing worlds backwards and more to the point, writes brilliantly. (Holds that last thought. I'll refer to it later.)
No. I'm talking about the frustrated, disillusioned and probably stubborn writer. We writers all rail about rejection. It goes with the territory like a tendency towards alcoholism. But rejection has its advantages. You may have been unlucky and targeted the wrong manuscript at the wrong agent or the agent just doesn't 'get' you, but by and large it means that your manuscript is not yet good enough to be published. That's a tough lump of gristle for any aspiring writer to chew on. It sticks in the throat. After all, a novel takes a huge amount of time to write and you're damned if it's going to languish. Well now it no longer has to. At one time you might have--and still can for that matter--pay a 'publisher' to publish it for you, the upshot being it will sink without trace and you may end up out of pocket.
That happens less and less these days and particularly so when you can create an e-book, usually but not exclusively on Kindle and for nothing. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. No snarky agent, no editor telling you that that scene must go, that section stream-lined and speeded up and that character altered.
Freedom! Power to the People!
But with freedom and power come dangers. What happens to that manuscript now it's out there, published, albeit electronically, and for instant sale? Usually, it's nothing. You friends and family may download it, although some might expect to be able to read it for free. Friends will tell you it's great. You may well get local press coverage or appear on local radio. After all, in the eye of the general public, you're as much as published author as Lee Child, Barbara Erskine or Salman Rushdie et al. Then there's always the dream that sales will pick up and suddenly everyone will be beating a path to your door. Yes, it happens. But taken as a whole the chances of that are as remote as winning millions on the lottery. Yes, it happens but it's statistics that matter. For every single winner of lottery mega-millions there are millions who win nothing at all, week after week. So you might as well forget that.
What usually happens is that your Kindle masterpiece will languish in exactly the same way it would have languished under your bed or on your hard-drive. Worse still, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to dust it off, rewrite it and resubmit when you've improved your skills.It's published. It's dead in the water.
You see, if you are really dedicated to being the best writer you can be, you'll strive hard and continue to hone your skills and learn everything you can about the world of writing and publishing, in the same way that even the most gifted sportsman or woman will continue to train even after he or she has won that top prize; that gold medal. Far too many people who are today downloading their work onto Kindle or other e-reading system it is an easy, quick-fix solution.
And, as we know quick-fix solutions are prone to failure. You build a chest of drawers. You don't know how to fashion a dove-tail joint. Who cares? You stick it together with super-glue. It looks okay but it will soon start to rock and wobble or even fall apart. And those who know these things will instantly tell it's shoddy. The same goes with writing. You won't have taught yourself more skills and you might end up even more disillusioned and frustrated than you were before.
That's why I won't go down that route. Writing is as much about development as anything worth doing. I look back at my early published work and cringe. (I cringe even more when I think of the rubbish that mercifully remains unpublished.) And I want my work to be assessed by the most ferocious critics. I want to find an agent who will help me find the right publisher and I want an editor who will work long and hard with me to add that final polish before it goes out alone into the big bad world.