Saturday, 22 May 2010

Mainstream or DIY?

Firstly, thank you to those who e-mailed me this weeks asking if I am OK because I haven't blogged since ....oh a week or two.

I'm fine, though not much is happening on the writing scene, for me anyway-other than I am slogging away at my 17th Century novel. It has become clear that there is so much happening in the second half, I am going to have to go back to the beginning and start trimming the first half!

Word count rules! Well it does for us unknowns anyway!

Being an historical fiction writer is not a route I would recommend to anyone in this current climate - mainly because I cannot stand the competition! Then again, it isn't the writing that's the hard part, but getting published.

I have spoken to several this week, care of Skype - thanks only to technology that provides free trans Atlantic conversations - and a surprising number of them are considering Self Publishing. Not as a last ditch, 'I have worked so hard on this if I have to publish it myself, I will', but as a serious, considered business move. The logic being if they can make some sales and get themselves recognised as authors, maybe a publishing house will notice them too - and if not, maybe the sales will do the work if sufficient hype and promotion goes with it.

These ladies, and so far they are ladies, I don't know how the men feel, agree that today you are expected to do 90% of your own promotion, no matter who publishes you. Editors don't edit any more, you are expected to present your publisher with a one hundred percent perfect novel ready to go to the printers. Although there are some self-published authors out there who are doing very nicely thank you.

For myself, I am still hoping for that call from my agent saying a publisher not only likes my work, but wants to publish it. It's very demoralising to be told I have written a 'promising novel', but they still won't publish it. Where does that leave me?

What angers all of us in our 'waiting to be discovered and working hard to learn the craft while we do so', circle, is that we all read plenty of mediocre or even plainly badly written books that are on Barnes & Noble and Book Depository websites - we have even reviewed some of them for review blogs! Publishing fiction is apparently about time, place and a lot of luck - and personal taste.

One thing we all agree on, is that no matter what comes of those manuscripts gathering dust on shelves above our computers, is that we will continue writing - because there isn't an alternative. It's what we do and who we are. We are doomed!


KarenG said...

Hard to GET published? That doesn't hold a candle to actually selling the books! Which every author, self-published or not, has to face-- what if it doesn't sell??? Even going with a large press doesn't guarantee anything in sales. I wouldn't recommend self-publishing UNLESS you know you can put out a great product, AND you have an audience waiting for your book. Oh, and it helps to be a marketing guru!

Anne Gilbert said...

Anita and all:

All these comments are well said. It's hard to break in, and it's hard to sell your stuff, to begin with, anyway, even if you do manage to get that agent who sells your work to a publisher. Still, I have a lot of reservations about self-publishing, although there are some decent self-published novels out there. Some of them even get discovered by legitimate agents.

However, if you're going to self-publish, you had better make sure yu have done everything possible to edit your book, not make goofs about word usage, spelling, characters, etc. NOt long ao I read a self-published novel about a historical charater. The poor author did the research, and had a very interesting idea(and character), but the book was so badly written in a number of ways, that while I didn't end up throwing it at the wall, I never finished it. I never intend to. It needed to be reworked through at least one more draft. And I think if some people want to self publish as a "business decision", there will be a lot more people putting basically "unfinished" books out there.
Anne G

India Drummond said...

I'm in the exact same boat. I've done some serious consideration, and quite a bit of reading about the topic of self-publishing in the current climate, and I think it's a good option.

Anyone who took writing classes, like I did, 10-20 years ago, had it drummed into them that self-publishing was the death of your career. This is no longer the case, and now we're seeing the positive end of the spectrum with all the new technologies and services available.

JA Konrath is one of those success stories. Have you read this article of his?

According to his stats, an author can make more from a $2.99 independent ebook sale than from a $14.99 hardcover sale with a Big 5 publisher.

Things are changing. Yes, it will mean you have to compete with New York AND make sure your stuff doesn't languish with mediocre self-pubbed books, but all readers know that buying a Big 5 book doesn't mean it's going to be flawless and a good read either. You'll have to build your audience and prove yourself just like every writer does, no matter the publication method!

Would love to chat more on the subject as you go along the road. I have a book with a publisher now, and have decided that this round is the last one for this book. If they don't want it, I'm taking the reins myself.

Anne Gilbert said...


I'm basically in complete agreement with you. If you're going to publish independently, you had better make sure you've done everything you possibly can to make it the best book you can write. That means editing, too. If you've done that, your book has a better chance of finding an audience. If not -- well, the reader is just going to be 'stung".
Anne G

N. Gemini Sasson said...

I look at all this on a very basic level. It's about writers connecting directly with readers and visa versa. Artists and musicians do it all the time, often building their fanbase on a small scale before being 'discovered'. Part of the creative process is sharing that creation with others. I think this is an exciting time with endless possibilities.

Victoria Dixon said...

Yeah, and the indie publications can backfire. They seem to make the larger publishers feel that you'll never have a big following (if you're not Konrath or Bridges of Madison County-guy), so why should they bother with you? Then you've shot yourself in the foot. Still shooting for the next story idea and an agent's/editor's notice....

Deborah Swift said...

Hi Anita,
Have you tried the publishers where you don't need an agent and can send your novel direct by email from anywhere in the world? For example Beautiful Books and Macmillan New Writing in the UK. Or Unbridled Books. My book is being published by MNW and their editorial advice was spot-on - they do edit stringently,and promote the best they can. It's hard enough to get a book noticed with a publisher's help, let alone without it. At least if it doesn't sell I haven't made a loss. The one or two that make it big through self-publishing are probably just that - one or two.And the work and stress might kill you! And it is great to have the added confidence of a publisher backing you.If the current book won't sell, start on the next and when that's a hit, they'll pick up on your first.Good luck!

Carol A. Spradling said...

I am very anxious to read your published books. The bits I have read so far are amazing.

I don't know much about indie publishing but it goes without saying, be cautious.

Anne Gilbert said...

Carol and all:

I agree with Carol here. Everything in the publishing world is still very much in flux, so I would have to say, proceed with extreme caution.
Anne G