Today marks the day of several changes at Wicked Writers. First, we’ve got a kick-butt new contest starting today. This contest is ongoing and will change from week to week, so be sure to stop by and check it out regularly. Second, we’re mixing up our theme and you should see a new look launched on the site soon. Third, we're changing a blogger. One member of our team, Steve Liskow, dropped out for personal reasons, and we’re sad to see him go. Since his first book is due to be released this spring, I was really looking forward to hearing what he had to say on this week’s topic.
One of the things I love best about this blog is the diversity we have as a group. This week, we’re talking about where we are in the publishing process and I’m excited to hear what everyone has to say. We’ve got an author who has been published in print for almost 30 years as a journalist and who has e-published several fiction titles already. Another journalist, who has worked exclusively in nonfiction plus edited several books professionally, is still navigating the tricky path to fiction publication. And a technical writer who has also been published for more than 20 years, who is attempting to sell her first full-length fiction novel (and who luckily had an agent represent her without having to go through the grueling query process).
Lastly, we have me—the greenest member of the group, one who has decided to start my own publishing house. Why? Traditionally, the belief is self-publishing is career suicide and you would only consider it if you had been rejected so much that you’re frustrated and feel you have no other avenue to try.
Well, what if you had the number one erotica publisher (that sells 60,000 titles per month)tell you to add more sex and they’d buy your manuscript in a heartbeat? Or two e-publishers approach you and say, “Please send us your full MS. If the partial we read on XXX website is an indication of the caliber of your work, we would love to represent it.” What do you do when two small presses want to talk seriously with you about contracting your book but you feel they can’t offer anything you can’t do on your own? How about when the COO of one of those small presses tells you the book is incredibly strong and you shouldn’t settle for anything less than a contract from a New York publishing house?
Sounds great, right? But what do you do? You can’t get the New York houses to look at your work without an agent and so far you can’t get an agent to offer you representation. Now, that’s not to say you won’t get an agent, but how long do you wait? I’ve read that there are instances when self-publishing your own fiction book is a smart thing to do. Namely, when you have a novel that’s geared toward a current event and the timing in getting it to the public is key. You can’t wait for the two-year lag time a large publisher needs to get it on their roster; you need to get it to the readers while the topic is fresh in their minds.
Another instance is when you are writing a niche genre—one that doesn’t have a clear-cut spot for it in the bookstores—or perhaps, one that is currently hot in the existing, but flooded, market. The biggest obstacles my book has faced so far is exactly what has drawn readers to it. Writing a vampire story in a market that loves them right now, in addition to crossing genres to make my story engaging and a page-turner, are both exactly what has confused agents on how to sell it to an editor.
My goal in starting my own publishing company was to cut out the middle and get my book the exposure it needs now. I will probably not make any money on this venture, I’m aware of that. With this first book, it’s not about the money. Don’t get me wrong—I’d be thrilled to have a runaway hit on my hands, but I'm a realist. If I can sell enough copies to attract a New York publisher’s attention, then I will have done it based on taking risks and trying something outside the box—and that will make all the difference to subsequent books in the series.
If you believe in your work and you're serious about your career, don’t leave it in the hands of someone else. No one can sell my book like I can. No one will care if I fail, except me. I have faith in the thousands of readers who have told me they love what they've read of my book. They are the true gauge in whether or not a story is worthy—not an agent or a publisher.
I encourage you all—think outside the box and don’t be afraid. You are the master of your own destiny.