As a writer, the hullabaloo over traditional means vs. print means can often be many things: confusing, uplifting, burdensome, and terrifying come to mind. As a huge supporter of the small press, I tend to lean in the direction of traditional means. There are many small presses out there and I have had the pleasure of working closely with three. To say that there is no hope of a future in the small press is not only ignorant, but mean.
Of course, there is the dream of landing the big fish…getting a multi-book deal with a large house that would eventually allow me to write for a living. I have always assumed that this was every writer’s dream.
However, recent events in the publishing industry have forced me to view this “dream” from different angles. I know, just like most of you reading this, how hard and frustrating it can be to land either a reputable agent or even a mid-sized deal with a mid-sized house. Achieving that dream of becoming a full-time writer through traditional means is very hard and even if you are writing stellar material, your chances are slim; it’s like being struck by lighting twice in the same place while holding a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket.
Note I specified the “traditional way” there.
If we are to buy into net headlines over the past year or so, it’s becoming apparent that the “traditional way” is not the only way anymore. E-publishing (or self publishing if you can conjure the will to say that) has not only become a little less risky in terms of personal gamble and public opinion, but is rapidly becoming the quiet mistress of many fledgling writers. Tempting as this prospect may be, I fought it with the same ferocity in which I declared I would never get an iPod because I liked my CDs just fine, thank you.
Of course now, as my iPod has reached just over 6 days worth of music and rarely leaves my side (or bedside table), I understand how minds can be changed. My own view of it has swayed in large part by the Church of Konrath. I fully admit to originally ignoring anything he had to say because of the somewhat stable platform he began his e-venture with. But as other names come out of the woodwork, (Amanda Hocking, for instance, whom has recently peaked half a million digital sales) I have been helpless but to take notice.
While I won’t say I am fully converted to the self published mindset, I am willing to say that there must be something to it. It’s so easy to recall that stubborn version of me that was perfectly happy with those thick CD folders in my passenger seat, full of burned CDs, ignorant to the bliss an iPod could offer.
All of that to say that I have decided to give it a try. I have spent the past month or so getting the framework ready and should have an announcement in the next few weeks or so. And while this does taint the original idea of how I thought I was supposed to achieve my “writing goals/dreams”, it isn’t so different, really.
One of the main bits of information I have picked up from the slew of blogs I have read on the subject is that success in digital publishing relies on having a catalog; don’t just throw a single book out there and expect it to work. That being said, I plan on polishing up another manuscript and re-writing the ending by the end of the summer. Beyond that, I have 4 more of what I would consider “small press” ideas that have been calling to me for quite some time.
During all of that, I will also be working on my larger efforts (right now that would be Great American Deaths and the newer Sleepyheads). It’s really no different from how I have managed my writing these last three years or so. I’ll still be querying and subbing to small presses, but they way I see it, self-publishing allows a third alternative. Of course, you then get into the issue of “Well, if agents weren’t interested and small presses weren’t interested, maybe the idea just sucks and doesn’t deserve seeing print.” I absolutely agree with this. So sometime during this little process, I am thinking that my projects will decide where they want to go…straight to digital or to publishers?
I have one in mind that, should I ever finish it, will be straight to digital. And, for example, if I ever manage to finish Sleepyheads, it will likely see the agent/publisher process. Hey, like I said, this is a recent decision and I haven’t ironed all the kinks out yet.
Of course, with The Bleeding Room coming out in August and the eventual release of Issue 1 of Birdwatching from Mars, I also run the risk of flooding the market with my minuscule name. But, again, a learning process…
Thoughts? Opinions? Voices of Reason?