Since July 1, my grand experiment of committed daily writing has yielded: a YA novel, a lengthy novella (just shy of 30,000 words) and seven viable short stories ranging from 1500 words to nearly 7000. If you add those to the wonderful mystery I wrote that we couldn’t sell because it was “too original,” the novel I completed for NaNo, and about four or five more good short stories written since the beginning of 2010 . . . I’ve got quite a bit of inventory piling up here. And I’m adding to it every day.
Unlike many of my fellow ’Rati, I’ve never had the experience of publishing with a big NYC house. My chops come from a small press. At the time, it was a perfect fit; my work tended to the quirky (still does). But my fiction has never financially, completely, supported me. That doesn’t make my experience as a published writer any less valid than what my friends have experienced with St. Martin’s, HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster.
I’d argue, however, that it does yield a very different perspective because I haven’t had the benefit of
1. a New-York-centric view of the book/publishing industry
2. active editors who spend time looking at the story and working with me to make it better
3. major PR/Marketing departments pushing my books at trade shows and with the media (especially big national media), getting me online appearances, soliciting reviews etc etc (let’s not even think about funded tours)
4. active and built-in distribution & automatic ins with national retail outlets
Though — embarrassingly — I felt sour grapes at one time, I am NOT complaining now. I’ve been in the field long enough to see the mercurial rise and fall of favored authors, the uncertainty they live with, the deadlines and publishing dates moved, the increasing responsibility/expectation for self-promo biting into dwindling advances, beloved editors dropped without a moment’s notice, publishing lines x-ed out, contracts neglected, pay withheld, e-book rights grabs . . .
I used to be one of those writers that scoffed at self-publishing. I thought people who opted for that decision – at least most of them – simply didn’t have the patience to do it the “right” way . . . to pay their dues and go through the fire of external vetting.
Now I have writer friends – some previously published by those big NYC houses, some never formally published – putting their work up on the internet themselves. They distribute their own books to Nooks and Kindles, on Smashwords and Lulu, they create online stores on their websites. They’re getting their work directly to readers without any middlemen whatsoever.
A particularly interesting development are the writers that have banded together to create a brand; my favorite group so far is Book View Café.
Sure, some of the creative work online is just crap. The same thing can be said for books/stories published traditionally. AND a lot of online fiction is well-edited and good. The same can be said for traditionally published works.
So what do I do?
Do I send my work out and wait — and wait — for publishers to respond? To tell me that my book is well written and fun but that they don’t see it having a big enough audience for them to publish? Do I give up on that model and get my work out into the world immediately (after editing, thankyouverymuch) and embrace a totally paperless approach?
Is it even either/or?
Argh! I don’t know. That’s why I’m writing this blog.
1. What are the real benefits NOW, today, of sticking with the traditional model of publishing? Or is that model obsolete?
2. What are the real benefits of striking out on your own?
1. Do you look at publishers to make your purchasing/reading decisions?
2. Are your own opinions about self-publishing/traditional publishing changing?
Help! The stories are piling up in my computer . . . and I write to be read.