I truly believe that this is a great time to be a writer. There’s so much concern, it seems to me, about the state of publishing–bookstores closing or stocking fewer and fewer books, publishing houses not accepting new submissions, or not supporting the authors they’ve already signed, or offering far lower advances than they once were. And not that those are not absolutely valid concerns. But I still say–this is a great time to be a writer.
The e-book revolution has opened up so many doors to us authors that would have been nailed shut before. I also hear a lot of both written and spoken opinions that self (or indie) publishing is somehow ‘too easy’, that the book world is going to be buried under a deluge of dreadful books that the quality control of the major publishers would once have kept from ever seeing the light of day. I hear those arguments, but I’m honestly just not buying it. Yes, it is now ‘easy’ to get your book up there for sale on Amazon. You do not HAVE to rewrite it until you know it forwards and backwards, edit it, polish it, and format it until it shines. If you are crazy enough to try it, you theoretically can throw up a lousy first draft of a sloppy book. But–here’s the thing–it is almost certainly not going to get you anywhere except a possible handful of sales and a lot of bad reviews.
I truly don’t think that indie publishing is any easier than going the traditional route. Writing a good book is HARD, it has always been hard and it always will be. The authors who succeed–the authors who are even now succeeding–are the ones who are passionate and driven enough to make their stories the very best they can be. They are the ones who hire an independent editor, who workshop their book with critique partners and friends, who do their absolute best to ensure that they are bringing a book that they are truly proud of into the world.
And even then, once their books are out in the world–publicizing, spreading the word about your story is by no means easy. We’ve all been talked to about social media and platform and finding your book’s market–and there is no question, it all takes a huge commitment of time and hard work.
So, I hear you say, why is this such a great time to be a writer?
Because we have choices! Traditional or indie, either route is going to have its own challenges, its own highs and lows. But if you’ve been shopping a book all around New York and it’s just not selling? You don’t have to give up on the story. As several other guest posters here at WU have written, indie publishing offers you a way to bring that story to the world.
Last year, I published Georgiana Darcy’s Diary (I actually didn’t even try to find a publisher for this one, I wrote it because I had completed by traditional publishing contract ahead of schedule and wanted to see what this indie publishing thing was all about) and I have been THRILLED with the experience. So much so that I have just in the last month released the sequel, Pemberley to Waterloo. The two books combined are earning me a nice, steady income (not millions of millions, but more per year than I would get as a publishers advance). And–which truly is just as exciting to me–I get more fan mail about Georgiana’s diary alone than I get about my first three traditionally published books combined.
And then there are the books that would once have been considered failures. I spent seven years as an unpublished, aspiring author–which means I have a looooong backlist of books that I wrote (and even had agents for some) but that never found a publisher. One series of cozy historical mysteries in particular I really loved. So in the last few months, I dug out the manuscripts, dusted them off, edited and polished . . . and now the first of them, Susanna and the Spy, is up there on Amazon. It’s selling steadily! It’s getting 5 star reviews! This is a book that five years ago I would have sworn would never, ever see the light of day–how freakin’ cool is that?
This post is starting to sound like I’m bragging, but that’s truly not my intent. I just want to give other authors–whether you’ve been traditionally published before or not–hope. If this can happen to me, it can happen to you, too, it truly can! I’m delighted with my success so far, and yet compared to many indie authors just drawn from my own personal acquaintance, my success is absolutely small potatoes.
At any rate, remember a few months ago when I posted about how my newest book had been turned down all over town? The book that my agent was absolutely certain would sell–and for ‘significant amounts of money’ at that? Well, it never did sell. Actually, my agent and I pulled it out of the submissions pile from the final two editors because it had sat there so long and we just didn’t think that any offers were going to be worth our time. But I am now so, so excited to announce that it is now out in the world! See the gorgeous (Mr. Husband-designed) cover, and here is the description:
Her boss is a fairy, her ex-lover is a Knight Templar, and she spends her days fighting the demons that plague London’s streets. But what’s *really* complicating Aisling McKay’s life is being a single mother to a nine-month-old baby girl.
Ever since the End Times, magic has been leaking into our world. Magic and demons, shadowy beings that possess humans’ bodies and destroy their souls. The Monastic Order of the Knights Templar have revealed themselves to the world as guardians and defenders of the veil between the demon world and ours. But the Templar Order is growing weaker, and the veil is starting to shred and tear. Often all that stands between humans and complete demonic possession are professional demon fighters, Hunters like Aisling McKay.
Aisling already has enough to handle between her day job, her (very unplanned) baby daughter, Willow–and avoiding Kieran, Willow’s father and a Templar Knight. But now a new danger is abroad in London–and facing it will set Aisling on a collision course with the past she thought she’d escaped for good.
I had meant to include some of my tips and marketing strategies, but this post is getting so long that I’m likely already testing people’s patience. So, next month–tips and strategies for boosting sales, and I will even talk to some other authors, because I am by no means an expert! But for now, for every aspiring author out there: believe in yourself and your stories, and don’t lose heart. Strive to make your books the absolute best they can be, and I truly believe that in the words of Jimmy Cliff, It’s gonna be a bright bright bright bright sunshiny day.
Photo courtesy Flickr’s A writer afoot