Insurgent Creative: Matt Wallace’s First Year

Insurgent CreativeMatt Wallace is a former professional wrestler, and current novelist, screenwriter and all-around purveyor of awesomeness. A year ago, he decided to release his novel, The Failed Cities, independently.

Today, he posts an examination of the first year of the book’s release, providing a look at sales numbers, his promotional and production choices, and more, all with links to additional posts discussing the various decision points along the past 12 months.

One of the interesting elements in his Year One study is his thoughts on collaboration with traditional publishing — where the author releases the digital, and contracts with a publisher for the print edition. He sees this as a model that is coming, despite his own experiences with trying to lead the horse to water:

I decided to use The Failed Cities as a proof-of-concept and pitch another book to larger publishers. I sent several proposals to some mid-range publishers basically saying, “Hey, I did this, we sold this many. I can produce/promote digital copies. You can produce physical copies. They’ll each promote and feed the other.”

They reacted like I was insane, of course. Publishers make huge bank off digital rights at the moment. They share criminally little of it with authors who are in general ignorant, frightened, and happy to give their money away. Publishers aren’t giving that up to some schmuck with a few thousand sales.

Only it’s not insane. It’s not insane at all. Louis CK did the exact same thing with HBO with his last one-hour special. He told them they could buy and broadcast the special, but he needed to be able to retain and sell the digital himself. It wasn’t worth it to him otherwise. If they didn’t agree he’d walk. They agreed.

He’s Louis CK and I’m Matt Wallace so the publishers told me to go screw. I get that. My numbers are too small and it’s too soon.

I’m of the opinion that this is a business model that a lot of smaller publishers should be looking into — partnering with author-publishers on the release of print editions of independently-released ebooks. Not the old “vanity press” model, where authors are duped into fronting the costs of production and un-distributed books end up filling the author’s garage, but a true business partnership — publishers licensing the rights to an existing work, to handle the production and distribution of the print edition. The large publishing houses are more interested in partnering with scummy scam artists like Author Solutions, so it will have to be the smaller publishers who move quickly and offer this valuable service — and it’s already starting to happen (as demonstrated by Wallace’s release of a limited edition hardcover of The Failed Cities in partnership with Murky Depths).

So head on over and check out his Year One report. Being an Insurgent Creative is all about being able to adapt, and having more information makes that process much easier. Be small, think big, move fast.

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