As many other (much more famous) people have said, this is a wonderful time to be an author. There are so many options open to us. We can self publish, we can publish with a digital-first publisher (of which there are many), or we can aim for a big New York publishing house (of which there are few).
There is no right way to publish.
Each person’s journey is just that; THEIR journey. Nora Roberts’ publishing journey is vastly different than mine (sigh), which is vastly different than, let’s say, my friend Kendall Grey’s journey. The thing is, no one way is “better” than another way.
If you want that contract with New York City, go for it. GO FOR IT. If in your heart of hearts you don’t want to be your own publisher, for God’s sake, don’t be. Write the best damned book you possibly can, and find someone else who will love your work enough to publish it. Then write another book.
If that is your dream, don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong, or that the contract you’re so proud of signing sucks. In fact, be very careful who you share your contract with; make sure they are knowledgable about author contracts, can help you make a decision, and more than anything, make sure YOU know what you want out of a contract.
Be realistic, too. If yours is a first contract with a publishing company, and you have no track record at all, you’re not going to get the moon when you ask for it. I’m not saying don’t ask; just don’t be surprised if they come back with a simple “no,” and know what you’ll do when that happens.
Another thing. Just because you might have signed a contract with a publishing house that someone you know is also signed with, DOES NOT MEAN you have to share your contract details with them. (You shouldn’t ask about their contract, either.) And definitely don’t talk about your contract in specific across a lunch table with a bunch of other people listening in. Your contract is YOUR contract, and nobody else’s business. You don’t owe it to ANYONE to share details.
Contrari-wise, if a good friend is considering a contract and asks you what to be careful about, feel free to share your views. In person, and in private (which can happen in a corner of a ballroom full of people, believe it or not).
I guess this is my ranty way of saying, know what you want out of your career, and go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong. Whether you self publish, go with a small publisher, or hold that dream of an agent and a six figure deal with a New York publisher, that’s your decision and your journey. You may change your mind down the line, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.
Know what you want, and go for it.
Don’t explain, and don’t apologize, for following your heart. Big, squishy hugs to you as you continue on the journey.
I’ve got an Author Page on Facebook now…it’s not very pretty to look at, but check it out and give me a “like” if you would!
So, I just came back from the Desert Dreams conference, which was a wonderful experience (thanks to the Desert Rose chapter of RWA for a FABULOUS time!). I really want a partner in this writing endeavor, so I was focused on meeting with agents and hoping to stir some interest in my work – which I did, so yay me. (Now I’m behind. Again. So it goes!)
I also got to speak very informally with one of my editor-crushes, Brenda Chin (she’s just fantastic, and I’d go kayaking with her any time). A big step for me – a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have known what to say or how to act. Anyway…
A good conference. No, a GREAT conference. Lots of goodness – lots of hugging old friends, meeting and cheering on new friends, and I’ve even been asked by a couple local RWA chapters to speak at their monthly meetings, so that was a kick. (I must get back to those ladies…)
And then, I opened my email today and saw this post from Kristen Lamb who I absolutely adore. It’s titled BIG SIX PUBLISHING IS DEAD – WELCOME THE MASSIVE THREE . Go ahead and click on that and read the article – I’ll wait.
Back already? So, basically, she says (and it’s really hard to disagree with her logic) that Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft/B&N are the new beasts on the publishing playground, and they will devour traditional publishing the way Apple first devoured music stores, and then devoured Kodak and their traditional film cameras (does anyone carry a camera any more?). This is also much in alignment with what I heard from Bob Mayer this past weekend.
After the weekend I just had, this news (which isn’t really news) makes me dizzy. I am still firmly of the opinion that I don’t want to be my own publisher – I don’t want to work that hard. Writing the book is hard enough, thank you very much. However – I feel very much whipped around, like I’m on the edge of the tornado that is publishing now.
Maybe I’ll “grow up” and get over it, and pub my own stuff. Maybe not. It’s still a discoverability issue – even if you get 70% of royalties on stuff you pub, if no one can find it and if no one buys it, that’s zero dollars. Actually, negative dollars since you’ve paid for the cover/editing/etc. If you make your work free, whoopee – that’s still no cash in your pocket, and no guarantee that anyone will go on to purchase from you. And no matter how much I love writing, am I willing to put book after book out there with no return? To be honest, I really don’t know. But it’s hard to put food on the table with a negative income, even when doing something I love.
So, still conflicted. Here’s a soothing photo of people kayaking. (Brenda, take note – if/when we work together, I’d LOVE to kayak with you!)
What about you? Are you thinking about taking the plunge? Have you already taken it? Are you resisting it with every fiber of your being, and now feel like a little dinosaur about to be eaten by the big T-Rex?
I love your opinions – lay them on me! Am I still firmly an ostrich, dancing, and is there anything wrong with that?
~ Until next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
All the advice for writers on the Interwebs has been making my head spin the past year or so, and lately that advice is really getting on my nerves. Advice such as the following:
Blog 3 times a week or more. The more you blog, the more people will come to your website. Twitter twice daily, for at least fifteen minutes each time, but be a real person. Facebook is the way to make friends and informally chat. Become a book bloggers’ best buddy, and they’ll be happy to push your book for you. And don’t forget to comment on every blog you can, every day. Give, give, give your time and energy to your fellow bloggers/authors and they’ll give back. Push your brand!
Self publish, but do it the right way. You don’t want to be a publisher, you just want to write? Grow up, be a big girl, pull up your panties and get over it. With the internet revolution regarding the written word, writers have to do it all now in order to be successful.
Some more tidbits of the revolutionary “truth”: Don’t bother with New York Publishing anymore, they’re the Titanic and they don’t see the iceberg in front of them. Agents? Who needs agents? Please, agents are so Twentieth Century.
All that advice gives me a headache. Plus it makes me feel very alone. I long for the years when it was simpler; when a writer’s job was to write a damn good book, then get an agent, and the agent found you a publisher, and you were half way to a career. Note that I said simpler, not easier.
Is it wrong for me to still want a contract with a big New York publisher? Is it wrong for me to want an agent, someone who will help me, guide me in this new and confusing world? Is it wrong for me to want to work with those professionals who have so much to offer? That’s the message I’m getting from bloggers that I like, trust, and care about, that what I want is wrong – and that makes my stomach hurt.
I’m not denying there’s a revolution. I just want to have tea with the Queen, just once, before her crown is crushed underfoot by the internet.
I feel there is no way I can measure up to the “new” way of publishing and the social media expectations. Thinking about all the things I “should” be doing (other than writing) is draining, especially since I have a full time job and a family (and no assistant, no trust fund, no financial safety net, and most importantly, no backlist). Doing all the social media stuff has become a chore, where it used to be fun. (I miss my 1k1hr buddies on Twitter!)
Even writing became a bit of a grind for awhile. In a fit of desperation, I talked to
- “…a fierce, take-charge Aluna is the kind of heroine who is easy to get behind.” Publisher’s Weekly
Jenn Reese, a lovely writer who was one of the very first to encourage me, all those years ago. I had a story that I liked that I was working on, but the plot seemed to be missing (maybe because I was trying to squeeze writing in between bouts of Facebook and Twitter).
She asked me why I was drawn to write in that world. And she gave me a homework assignment, to write a list of everything about that world that I was passionate about, that I wanted to write about.
The list flowed. Writing became exciting again. After Tai Chi on Saturday, and over yummy sandwiches at Bun Me, she pressed the point home to me. Write what you’re passionate about, she said. Don’t write to the market. Don’t force a genre on the book. If you know the book’s ending, you’re half way to a solid plot (so many books don’t follow through on their opening). Most of all, keep going!
In thinking about her advice, I realized it could also be applied to social media for the writer. So here’s my personal Writer’s Manifesto, that I’m sure will get tweaked as I go along:
Be passionate about your work, and that includes social media. Don’t do what you’re not comfortable with. If you get in too deep, excuse yourself and get back out (this includes participating in group blogs, volunteering for your writer’s group, or anything else that doesn’t focus you on your own writing).
Follow your dreams, whether that is a contract with a New York publisher, getting an agent, or self-publishing a book every other month. Make sure those ARE your dreams though, and not dreams thrust upon you by well-meaning bloggers that you know, like, and trust. (Because their dreams ARE NOT your dreams, though they may look similar.) Above all? Focus on writing that you are passionate about, and then send it out into the world.
I realize I’m probably in the minority, wishing the publishing world wasn’t changing so rapidly. Like so many other big businesses, it’s an effed-up industry and has been for a long time; but it was effed up in a way I understood. This new world is one I don’t fully trust, and while I’ve learned a lot in the past 18 months, I am still going to reach for my personal brass ring.
I don’t want to be my own publisher; I want a knowledgable partner to help me through the publishing business. If that makes me seem like an ostrich with my head in the sand, so be it.
- thanks to natureartists.com Peter Hall “Ostrich Dance”
But I’d much rather believe I’m an ostrich, dancing.