If you are a writer these days, you can’t help but realize that the landscape is changing. In the Old Days, you wrote a story, you submitted it to publishers, you got rejected a bunch of times, and eventually, (assuming the story was any good) someone accepted it, and you got published. There wasn’t much choice in who and where you submitted. If it was a short piece, there were magazines and anthologies. If it was a book, the big publishing houses were the only game in town.
This is not true anymore. Sure, the big publishers are still out there, and they are still putting out good stuff by good writers. But they are not the only game in town anymore. Small houses, particularly for niche markets, abound. And distributors like Amazon and Smashwords and more are making it easier for authors to get their work in front of readers.
There are reasons to go with any of the above choices. Or to go with something outside even those. I know of several authors who have run successful Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns to get a work published and out there. No one way is going to be right for everyone. I am going to talk about what I have decided. You may agree, or you may think I am crazy and take a different path. That’s fine. It’s the blessing, and the curse, of having choices.
I have been writing as long as I can remember. I think I write pretty decent stuff, at risk of sounding a bit egotistical. I don’t claim to be up there with the best of the best, but people read my stuff and like it. Or at least they say they do. I keep writing new things, developing new ideas, polishing and perfecting as much as I can. Like most writers, I want people to see and read those stories. It’s one of the reasons I write them. The other reason is that I need to get this stuff out of my head or I will go bonkers!
I have struggled for a year or so on how to get those stories out there for people to enjoy. I waffled back and forth on going the traditional route, doing it myself, or something in between. A few months ago, I made a conscious decision to take the author published path.
I know there is still something of a stigma on author published work. And for good reason. There is a lot of junk out there. Not necessarily bad stories (although those exist, also, and some come from more traditional sources, too), but stories that suffer from lack of editing, both for content and mechanicals. Stories that are unfinished, unsatisfying, difficult to read for many reasons. In some ways, this ability to publish on your own makes it too easy. People dash off a trashy vampire novel, or a badly thought out steampunk story, dash out 80 or 90 or 100 thousand words, and put it on Amazon without so much as an attempt at checking spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Many people think all author published works are like that. Luckily, there are a lot of authors who do care, and who are starting to break that perception. We’ll never get rid of the bad stuff, but there is more and more good coming through.
On top of that, when you publish your own work, you have so much more to do than just write. You are responsible for making sure it is edited well, the cover design is not only attractive but will work in a variety of formats, the text itself is formatted well for e-readers, and for all the publicity, marketing, and promotion. It is time-consuming, and not everyone wants to do that.
With all that, why did I decided to take the author published route? Because I want to get my stories out there. To let people read them. And I can do that, even with all the production work that needs to be done, in a more timely fashion than traditional publishing allows. For example, if I wanted to traditionally publish the novel I have coming in August, I would write a query letter, a synopsis, and provide a sample of the actual novel to an agent or publisher. Many of them will take up to 3 or 4 months to get back to you, most likely with a rejection. So, then you start over with the next name on your list of potential publishers. By the time you finally get that acceptance, it could be years. Yes, I know- J.K. Rowling was rejected 17 times before Harry Potter was published. And I think that’s great, and I admire her tenacity and her success. I decided that I don’t want to wait for that long. I want to let people read my stories, and, yes, maybe make a little money along the way. Will I ever be rich and famous? Will I ever be able to buy a Lamborghini, live in a 400 room mansion, and think nothing of shopping exclusively on Rodeo Drive? Highly doubtful. But, then again, the majority of traditionally published authors, even successful ones, won’t either. I want you to be able to read my stories, and, I hope, enjoy them. Do I want to sell many copies of them? Well, I’d be lying if I said no, but I’m not going to obsess about numbers. I’m going to spend part of my time on marketing, part of my time on production, and most of my time writing.
That’s what my thought process was, and is. For those who are in this with me, let’s go and tell some stories! For those who choose a different path, best of luck and join us in telling those stories. There is room out there for all of us!
Coming in mid-August, a sci-fi novel, “Circle Unbroken.” More details coming soon.
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