I recently read a post by H.M. Ward, a super-successful self-pubbed romance writer with strong feelings about trad-pubbing versus indie-pubbing.  Did I say strong feelings?  I meant nuclear detonation feelings.  I meant zombie apocalypse feelings.  I meant 10-plagues-upon-your-house feelings.  H.M. Ward has had it up-to-here with the Big 5.
You should read it. 
Point after point hits home for authors wrestling with whether or not to self-pub.  Ward pulls no punches as to her view of the competence and capabilities of the traditional publishing empire.   (Here’s a hint: the empire is burning to the ground.)  As romantic and sensual and sexy as she is in her best-selling books, that’s how hardcore and unforgiving she is in the post.  Think Joe Konrath in black silk stockings.  (Sorry for that image, Joe.)
Ward has sold millions of self-pubbed books.  She’s earned her attitude, her fans, and boatloads of indie-author respect.  I already subscribe to her way of thinking about self-pubbing, so as fun and refreshing and reconfirming as she was for me to read, the comments to her post were what really got me thinking.
There were more than a few writers angry with Ward for her aggressively defensive posture toward the traditional publishing empire and her debunking of trad-pubbing in totality.  These angry writers wouldn’t and couldn’t let go of their Big 5 Dream.  Either they couldn’t find time to self-pub, or they didn’t have the money to self-pub, or they believed the prestige of being trad-pubbed was greater than the prestige of being self-pubbed, or they found comfort in the idea that the traditional publishing empire would do all the heavy lifting for them, or, or, or, or, or.
For me, none of this back and forth road rage got to the heart of it.
Before I became a novelist, I was a Hollywood screenwriter.  I’ve written 56 screenplays—10 have been optioned as feature films, and 18 have been produced as television films.  All of that writing was done as a freelance (indie) author.  I know as much about being a paid professional indie writer as anyone.  I have been a working, independent writer for most of my adult life.
In August of this year, when I launch Laugh Riot Press with three of my funny books, I’ll begin the indie journey anew as a novelist and, when other writers join, as a social media marketer and publisher.   
For me, it’s not about the time or the money or the prestige or the consternation that there’s work to do above and beyond the writing. 
For me, it’s about control. 
I need to feel like I am in control of the one part of my life that I can and must control: my creative corner of the world.
I have personal obligations—I’m married nearly 30 years, and I have three children in college—I have outside business interests, and I have social commitments in my community that demand a percentage of my time and my life.  I’m not complaining; I chose for my life to work like this.  And I’m not special in this regard.  I’m sure many of you have these same obligations, interests, and commitments.  And I’m sure those were life choices you made as well.  Good for us.  But...   
The one place I can’t and won’t cede control of my time and thought and energy and effort is the creative corner of my life, where I am the most pure and self-realized me that I can be.
I want to be intimately, personally, and professionally involved in all the many aspects of presenting my book to the public.  The writing and rewriting and editing and proofing (of course), the cover design, the formatting, the release date, the pricing, the promotion...I want it to be my book.
I think I can produce at least as good a book as the traditional publishing empire because I believe I am at least as creative and organized and professional as they are.  I know I’ll be more emotionally invested.
If my books sell, I’m going to be thrilled.  If they don’t, I’m going to have a hell of a great ride making and marketing and publishing funny books.  (And helping other writers do the same.)
Maybe I’m crazy, but I think there’s a whole lot of prestige in publishing my own books with my own imprint.
Anyway, I don’t carry the same vitriol as Ward even though I agree with her and even though the traditional publishing empire told me that funny books were too hard to sell so though they laughed out loud and thought I was a swell writer, they were not signing me.  I don’t hold a grudge because I don’t like that feeling inside me.
If writers can’t let go of the Big 5 Dream, that’s their call. 
I get the time concern part of their equation.  That’s why I founded Laugh Riot Press in the first place: so I wouldn’t have to do the everyday heavy lifting that successful social media marketing demands.
As for the rest of all that antagonistic back and forth, the bottom line is that you’ve got to do what makes you feel vibrant and alive and active and awesome in your creative corner of the world while you’re present enough to have one.
Time is ticking.  The more funny books in the world, the better.
I’d love to know what you think.  Tell me your story.  Email me at  



Posted on April 3, 2014 and filed under writing tips, Rich Leder.