Einstein’s Theory of Insanity

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

As I consider this very simple of Theory of Insanity which requires no advanced degree, abacus, slide rule or computer, it confounds me that I seem not to grasp the principle. In thinking about my life lately, I realize that there are certain things that I have been doing over and over, always expecting that somehow I’ll have a more favorable outcome.

But Einstein was right. Do the same thing. Get the same result. Always.

“So what to do?” I ask myself. Shake things up somehow? Try something different? I’m conservative by nature, so rocking the boat is not normally my thing, unless injustice is involved. I can’t stand to see people abuse power.

“So where shall I start making changes in my life?” I ask myself yet again this very cold not yet Spring morning.

Let’s start with the writing gig. So many changes are happening in the industry so quickly. The supposedly tried and true way of climbing the publishing ladder – the NYC print publishers – are taking a bit of a rocking lately with book store issues and the defection of writers like Barry Eisler to indie publishing.

Not that I recommend that approach to those who have not been previously published. Eisler had an established following, something which the average unpublished writer does not and before someone tosses out the Amanda Hocking story, just remember that for every Amanda Hocking there are thousands of writers who spend thousands of dollars self-publishing and get nowhere. Hocking is to be admired for her perseverance and determination, but ultimately she chose a six figure deal with a NYC publisher so that she could write instead of being a promotion machine.

But in the case of a published author, is the now titled “indie” publishing a viable option? And if it is, what is the price point for an indie book?

Would you spend 99 cents on such a novel? If you liked the work, would you then make the jump to pay $5 or $6 or even $8 dollars for the next work by that author.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as this writer considers breaking free from Einstein’s Theory of Insanity.

18 thoughts on “Einstein’s Theory of Insanity”

  1. The publishing business is run by rules that change with the time of day and the mood of anyone involved. It is also evolving into something even more enigmatic than it was before.
    Right now, anyone who has the time and patience can see their manuscript up online somewhere. If the objective is to say one is published, well, I dunno if just putting your stuff up on the internet quite qualifies. It is just like vanity publishing, only there is less to pay and you don’t have to sell your manuscript from the trunk of your car.
    This business is not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to prostitute yourself to get published by mainstream publishers unless your product is exactly that they want or they think will sell. And that happens only rarely. If up put your stuff up by yourself, it is up and out there and perhaps someone will buy it. The difference is all the middlemen who are absent if you put it up yourself.
    Publishing is a total crapshoot.
    Sometimes you roll the dice right, sometimes you come up with the wrong number and you lose.
    Best thing to do it write the best story you can and let somebody critique it who knows what they’re doing and what the business is all about. You might save yourself a great deal of grief.

  2. I hope you’re right, Kelly. As for the reasons some authors gave you, there are few authors who can write a book that wouldn’t be improved by the expertise of a good editor. Even bestselling authors will tell you that. Some people who self-publish hire freelance editors. Others think their work is perfect the way they’ve written it. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case, as evidenced by the Jacqueline Howett train wreck that’s got everyone abuzz lately.

    1. Oh, most definitely. I don’t know what I’d do without my critique partners, for instance. They helped my writing and perspective immensely.

      I self-published a couple books, and went indie for a couple before going more traditional. Again, it helped me.

      I get emails daily requesting advice and I always say the same thing. Get a critique partner, join a writers group, learn how to submit correctly. Then I give them ideas on where to go to try publishing.

  3. Lori, I didn’t say people are self-publishing because they’ve been rejected by “NY”. I said “everywhere.” There are several hundred well-established independent publishers in the US and authors who are very happy to be published by them. NY isn’t the end all and be all of traditional publishing. I also said “for the most part.” I didn’t say “all” There are exceptions, and I’m happy for those authors who are the exceptions. Everyone has to make his or her own decision regarding career choices.

    Flame wars start on blogs because people twist what other people have written. Please don’t turn a worthwhile conversation about a topical situation into something it shouldn’t be. People are entitled to their opinions, and as adults we should respect those opinions, whether we agree with them or not.

    1. I don’t think Lori meant anything negative, Lois. Honest.

      But these comments make me think of another point, and that is a lot of new authors don’t know what to do or how to go about publishling, so they rely on the self route.

      OR a lot of authors like the control in their hands and the instant gratification of self-publishing.

      The few authors I interviewed on my blog who self published said both of those things. Just thought it was one other point to make. 😀

  4. well i’m not an author ,although i would love to be that talented, but i am a voracious reader. i have authors that are favorites and the truth is that i never look at who the publisher is. i look at the price only after i look to see if i already own that book and if i don’t then i hope the book is within my price range. i try not to pay more than $5-$8.00 for a book because i usually buy at least 5 or 6 at a time and if i pay more than that i can’t get very many. i have also found that my local second hand store is a great place to find alot of new used books because some people read them only 1 time and then get rid of them. i on the other hand have book from when i was in the 1st grade!

  5. Thanks for clarifying that, Caridad. It does a huge disservice to every author published by an independent press and the independent publishers themselves to be lumped in with people who self-publish. There are many well-respected indie publishers — over 300 just in the U.S., including Sourcebooks, Kensington, and Llewellyn as well as all the university presses. TINKERS by Paul Hocking, which won the Pulitzer last year for fiction, was published by an indie press.

    Self-publishing may be right for some people who have an established fan base and a backlist of books which have reverted to them, and every once in a while you’ll hear about an Amanda Hocking type success story. For the most part, though, the majority of self-published books are being self-published because they’ve been rejected everywhere they’ve been submitted or by people who think it’s a quick way to bypass mainstream publishing and make a lot of money.

    1. Rejection by NY does not mean a book is bad. Rejection by NY means NY didn’t think they could make enough off of it to justify investing in it.
      Two majorly different things. Especially since NY has a lot of structure to support that an independent author doesn’t.
      And before anyone says it, yes, many, many books are rejected because those with the power to acquire think they are bad. Still doesn’t mean they are though. Books are art, not math.

  6. Also, my bad for creating confusion with the term “indie” author and/or publishing. Independent presses are small or niche presses and they have their own organization and conference. The Eisler and Hocking books are self-published and so they are not “Indie” authors. My apologies. 🙄

    1. This brings up a whole other interesting debate. Some self-publishers you don’t pay for are considered Indie. There’s also a difference between self-publishing and vanity.

      It’ll make your head spin! 😯

  7. I started out Indie, and don’t regret it at all. It helped me get my feet wet, understand publishing, understand marketing, and learn my craft. I may or may not go back to it–depends. Best advice is just to make sure you edit well and have it critiqued first.

    Not all Indie books are bad, but then again, not all Traditional are good. 😉

  8. I’ve been doing the self-publishing thing for quite a few months now. I started with a short story and a short “how to” writing piece. Then I added another short story and my first pubbed by NY book (which I got the rights back to). Finally, in January I put up my first original full-length novel. (First for me to self-publish I mean, not first one I’d ever written.)
    I am very happy with the results and am working on another original now with the intention of self-pubbing it too. Right now I’m tracking to make the same or more as I made writing for NY last year, and I love the freedom of it.
    I have priced my shorts at $.99 which I think is a fair price and my books from $2.99 to $3.99. However at the moment they are all on sale for $.99. I am raising them back up in April.
    I’m also doing an experiment and have published something under a pen name priced at $2.99 (full length novel). It is in a different genre, but I am curious to see how big of a difference having an existing name (however small mine may be) makes in all of this. That book actually started selling immediately–not a lot of copies, mind you, but obviously some people don’t care if they have never heard of the author and will take a risk.
    So, anyway, that is a bit of my experience and take on it. I could go on and on…but will save you from that. 🙂

  9. I personally think 2.99-7.99 (novella to full-length) is a good e-book price for an established author who I enjoy reading. Anything higher than that is too high. Not because e-books are easier to create than print books, but because they cannot be shared or transferred like print books can.

  10. I think any price under $4 is a ridiculously low price for a book, considering how much work goes into producing a novel. I tend to think ebooks priced that low are not worth my time, in the you-get-what-you-pay-for-theory of life. That said, $12.99 is too much to pay for an ebook, especially when the paperback will likely be priced somewhere between $7.99 and $9.99 when it’s released.

    Also, there are too many self-published books out there. Although I’m sure some are excellent, the large majority of those I have sampled have been awful. No matter how cheaply they are priced, I simply do not have the time to wade through the rubble to find a few gems. This situation is likely to get worse as self-publishing become easier.

  11. I’m a firm believer in not putting all your eggs in one basket–one look at my 401K will tell you that. I’m watching and reading everything I can about self-publishing.

    If you read the conversation between Eisler and Hocking you’ll note they both seem to be jumping to the other side of the fence for the same reason the other is leaving the grassy field–for the moment. I don’t think either will cut the ties or undo the steps they’ve already built. Going the other route is just another venue to get their name out there and reach readers. JMO


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