I’d tried for years, going the traditional route, to become published. Part of the problem was I’d received contradictory advice from different writer friends: “You need to get an agent.” “You need to market directly to the publisher.” “Writer’s Market will never steer you wrong.”
That was just the tip of the iceberg.
I got warm on many occasions, receiving personal notes from multiple publishers. Those notes often told me things like “you have a solid writing voice” or “this is wonderful but not quite right for us.” Like many writers, I became discouraged, particularly because I had publishing success under another name with other writing (specifically, journalism, academic writing, poetry, and flash fiction). Every once in a while, I’d take another crack at big fiction, only to be disappointed. I can’t tell you how many times a manuscript would sit (exclusively) with a publisher or agent for months, and I’d finally get a form rejection letter, basically meaning I’d have to start all over and wait and wait and wait again.
I’d started writing big fiction again two years ago, steeling myself once more for the trail of rejections. Like most writers, it’s in my blood. Rejection or not, I must write. But shortly after I started writing like mad again, one of my writer friends told me about the self-publishing revolution. However, unlike “vanity presses” back in the day, indie publishing today affords a writer ultimate control of her work. I liked that idea.
In April 2011, I took control of my writing destiny, self-publishing Tangled Web as an ebook on Amazon. I read all I could about other self-pubbed writers and how they’d managed to propel themselves to success. I learned to do a little marketing, but I believed one thing: If you write it, they will find it and they will read it. Some days it seems like it’s taken so long, but really it hasn’t taken long at all. And the coolest part of indie publishing? The readers will decide if they like my books, no middleman necessary. Sure, I have negative reviews and there are people out there who can’t stand my writing. And I’m okay with that. Because there are plenty of you out there who have found my work and like it. And that makes me happier than you can imagine. On this journey, I’ve made friends too, and I don’t regret for a second going the indie publishing route.
So…several people earlier this year tried to talk me into going the traditional route again. I wrote a manuscript that I knew was one of the best things I’d ever written. As I wrote it, I knew it was special. This was the one. My friends told me I needed to “strike while the iron was hot”—my book sales were up, readers were familiar with my work, etc., etc.
I started listening to that siren song, and I lined up some beta readers to give me feedback. I started putting together a query letter and a synopsis (both of which drain the life out of a writer, unlike writing the stories themselves, which are energizing and fun!).
So what would that do for me? Well, nothing in life is certain, but it could potentially widen my distribution, find me more readers. It could potentially increase sales.
But what it could also do…make my books a lot more expensive, more expensive than I’d like, yet the profits might still be the same for me. And, considering how quickly I write and publish now, there would likely be a huge difference in the time it takes from final draft to actual publication. (Considering I’m an English teacher by day, editing is no problem for me and not a worry, although I do sometimes fret with revision.) Finally, up until a few weeks ago, I might have said “better covers,” but now that I’ve discovered (with the help of my partner) that there are photographers and models out there willing to work with folks like me for either credit or a little cash (not the exorbitantly priced pictures I’d first come across when I first began this crazy venture a little over a year ago), even that’s not so true.
And so I’ve reaffirmed my stance as an indie writer for more reasons than I can outline here in a small blog post. (Small? Too late, you’re probably thinking!)
That book I mentioned above, the perfect one? It’s Everything But, the “sequel” to Tangled Web. Fan response to Tangled Web has overwhelmed me. It’s been loved and hated, adored and trashed, but more than that—it’s been purchased by more readers than any other book I’ve written. It’s been reviewed more than any other book I’ve written. I’ve received fan letters from unlikely readers, and I don’t even want to know how many times it’s been pirated. Let’s just say I’m glad it was the first book I published.
So when I announced I was writing Riley’s story, the response too was overwhelming. I continued to toy with the traditional publishing route idea, but I’ve decided against it. I have written it for you, my readers, not for a publishing house. I don’t want it to cost a crazy amount of money; I don’t want to wait a year to see it on the shelves (literally or figuratively); and I want to give you my story soon and the way I intended, without someone telling me what to change.
Look for Everything But sometime in September. I look forward to sharing it with you and seeing if you think it’s as special as I think it is. And thanks again for your company as I enjoy this incredible journey of discovery and delight.