Softball season is well underway, here. At least, it is for me, since I count the beginning of the season from the point when my daughter starts practice. The actual season has also started. Games began last week. [And here is where I'm tempted to start talking about my daughter and how it looks like she's going to be an awesome catcher, but I'm not going to do that. That's not what this post is about. I'm sure that will come later, though.]
Hitting during a game is an especially difficult thing for this age range, due in no small part to the erratic-ness of the pitching. Many of the girls are so scared of being hit by the ball that they jump out of the box every time a pitch is thrown. And they all get hit at some point, so it's not an irrational fear. And, because so many of the pitches are balls, the girls have a difficult time discerning what to swing at. I don't envy them.
Amidst that, one of the girls on the other team got her first hit during the first game. It was a nice, solid fly ball. A foul, fly ball (right at me, actually, so I'm glad there was a fence there). Of course, a foul ball is a strike, so, on the one hand, it wasn't a successful hit, but, on the other hand, she hit the ball. In fact, her coach yelled at her after she'd returned to the plate, "You're a hitter, now!" and, maybe, something about doing it again. What came after wasn't important. The "you're a hitter, now," though, is very important.
There's a particular confidence that comes from knowing you can hit the ball. Actually make the bat connect with the ball. If you can do that, no matter where it goes the first time, you will eventually be able to get a base hit. You have to get on base to score.
Now, follow along with me here, and let me know when you get what I'm saying. [Note: I am not going back and sourcing this information, but this is all based on a few articles and reports I've read in the last few weeks.]
At the moment, indie books are being published at about the same rate as traditionally published books (despite claims by people supporting traditional publishing saying that indie authors are "flooding the market" (with crap) and making books indistinguishable for readers). That means for every 1000 indie books that are released there are 1000 traditionally published books released. But let's look at what that really means.
[There will be math involved, which will make Tina happy, but, despite anything she says, this is not "everyday" math.]
For every 1000 indie books published, that's like 1000 girls getting a piece of the softball with their bats. They won't all score or even get on base, but, hey, they hit the ball. They can say, "I'm a published author." If they keep at it, eventually, they will score. Now, here's the part you have to understand; that's a 100% success rate. Beyond that, two or three of them will do well enough to be able to go on and earn a living just playing softball.
But let's look at the traditionally published books. For every 1 of those 1000 girls at bat, there were anywhere between 500 and 1000 more girls told they couldn't play on the team. No particular reason, just "you can't play." So you have the same 1000 girls getting a piece of the ball, but the success rate is way less than 1%. In fact, it's as bad as 0.1%. Instead of 1000 out of 1000 being able to say "I'm a published author," you have 1000 out of 500,000 to 1,000,000 being able to say it. Those are bad odds. And you're no more likely to be able to go on to earn a living playing softball as a traditionally published author than you are as an indie author. In fact, instead of it being two or three out of the 1000, it's only one or two.
And the traditional publishing industry doesn't want you to know about the 1,000,000 kids, the 1,000,000 little girls, they turned away. Oh, wait, the 999,000.
And, yes, before anyone says anything, I know my analogy is not exact. For one thing, I'm assuming that every girl that gets up to bat will get a hit, but it worked for the analogy because that's what gave me the thought, "You're a hitter, now!" "You're a published author, now!" On that basis, it works.
The point is is that the traditional publishing industry survives by keeping kids off the field. By not letting them play. At all. Then they tell everyone that they picked the best players. That all falls apart, though, when you look over at the kids playing on the indie field, even some of those making a living wage at it, and you find out they were some of the same ones told by the gatekeepers of the traditional fields to get lost.
Look, we all want to score a run or two. At least bat someone else in, right? That can only happen if we can get out on the field and play. Personally, I believe in the system that lets people that want to play the game, play the game. Right now, I can say, "I'm a published author." I'm getting to play the game. Right now. I'm doing it. I'm not waiting in line over and over again to be repeatedly turned away hoping there will be an opening just when I happen to show up.
In the end, that's really what it comes down to for me: Are you going to let me play the game or not? As it happens, the indie field is open and has plenty of room for people to play the game. I'm not much fond of being told to take my ball and go home.