As a first time author about to finish the first draft of my novel, I naturally have been doing some research on getting published, learning what I can, to hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls of traditional publishing. There is a lot of information out there, but I was able to sift through some of the muck, and find some things that gave me hope. My confidence in getting published is now much higher, and my dream that my book will find it’s way into the hands of appreciative readers nation, and even world wide is much closer than I once thought. I’ll attempt to share what I found.
The traditional ways of getting published are still the most attractive, although I think this attraction is more and more about the tradition and notoriety of being able to say “I’m published”, than it is the deal you get when you sign over your rights. Now days an author is required to do much more in the realm of marketing than authors even ten years ago. And the fees of the people who we thought were there to take care of those things, remain the same, and in some cases have grown. But this is not new information to most of you, so why am I writing this gibberish you ask? Bear with me, I’ll get there.
The Information age is an ever changing, ever moving force that publishers, it seems, have not fully faced yet. Or if they have faced it, they don’t have a clue on how to jump on its swift bandwagon in a way that will make traditional publishing a viable option in the future. The force of the information age is unstoppable, powered by the consumer’s insatiable desire for any and all media/information. To get this at the touch of a button isn’t good enough anymore, it has to be in our hands, and have options to press a virtual button, or give verbal commands to get to the desired Information. Sometimes user interaction isn’t even necessary, with automation, and scheduling we can sit back and let the bits and bytes come to us. It’s an incredible, fascinating, and imaginative world. But it is a world that has little room for old outdated methods, and it is quickly gobbling up industry after industry, and changing how those industries think, and develop.
This change has been a good thing for the most part, I mean who would want to go back to listening to 8 track tapes. I certainly wouldn’t, and I have no idea what that was like. What about VHS? Anybody? And can you even compare modern video games to pong? (an early video game resembling the real life game of table tennis, that consisted of two lines that represented paddles, and a small square ball that slowly bounced back and forth as the players moved their paddles in front of it).There is obviously a place for individuals to hold on to nostalgia by listening to records, or watching old movies. (I myself am one of these). But I’m talking about society as a whole. I don’t know anyone who would actually consider going back to a time when, in order to call someone you had to find a pay phone, or wait till you got home. The list of industries changed by the Information age is massive, and I believe the publishing industry is about to get an electronic makeover of epic proportions.
Fear not! This might seem like a scary thing to some, but I believe it will be a good thing for writers. E-books are the thing of the future. I think it will take longer for them to take the reins from paper books, and even longer to make paper books obsolete, if it ever does. But they are here, and gaining popularity, especially now that the hungry consumer has many choices on which to read them, like the Kindle, the Nook, Sony’s reader, and the oh so popular Apple Ipad.
With the oncoming surge of e-books, so too comes a surge of opportunity. There are many writers who are by no fault of their own, unable to get an agent and therefore unable to get published. Some of them have written just as good a novel as some that have been published, yet for whatever reason they have fallen through the cracks. Bad Query letter perhaps? Maybe, But with e-books, anyone can get published. Okay it’s self-publishing, which for some reason has become a dirty phrase in the industry. Hmmm, I wonder who started that Idea. The fact is, you don’t have to be published in the traditional sense to sell your books, even to the mass market. There are current authors who have become disenfranchised with the way the industry works, so they have set out on their own to sell their manuscripts as e-books. I read a blog recently where the author talks about his success with self-publishing his e-book using Amazon's kindle alone. You can read his blog here. He claims to make 100,000 in a five year span per book. He also mentions a couple of other authors who got similar results using the same method. Okay it’s not going to be the Stephanie Meyer, or J.K. Rowling story we all secretly dream about, but if you have five books out there that’s a decent living, and what if you have ten or twenty books? Not to mention there are other self-publishing avenues that he doesn’t include.
My point of this ramble, is that the power is shifting from the publisher, to the author. Imagine as an author not having to worry about writing a query letter, or pitching to an agent, who decided the minute you walked in the door, she wasn’t going to represent you. You write what you want, when you want. Of course you’ll want to write something people will want to read, but you are in complete control. You decide whether or not the book needs more kissing scenes not the publisher. This to me is an exciting thing, and even though right now it’s still advantageous to publish the traditional route, self-publishing is an option, and it’s becoming a better and better option as the power shifts.
Don't get me wrong, I still love it here. The weather has been absolutely beautiful, and we're having a good time laughing and acting like idiots while we work until 2:00 am. We've spent far too much time shopping at Home Depot (my favorite store ever), and too little time off my feet; they are killing me! But we have accomplished a lot, and the house is looking good.
The main reason I'm missing home, is that I am out of my routine, and haven't had any time to write. We take little breaks here and there, but it's not enough to give to Sam and the boys. I'm actually feeling kind of guilty about it, and feel like if I neglect his story much more, he's going to leave me for another writer. What a horrible thought! Nah Sam wouldn't do it; we have too much time invested in this relationship for either one of us to abandon the other. At the risk of sounding like I bat for the other team, I must say, that I need to get back to him ASAP.