It’s Not You, It’s Me

I know it’s been quiet around here. Sorry about that… But it isn’t because I’ve fallen off the face of the earth (except for one week back in June).

Quite the contrary. I’ve been very busy. I’ve got lots of things up my sleeve, but the one I’m ready to talk about today is this:

I’ve been asked to join the blogging crew over at Operation Awesome! Today is my first post there. Check it out! It’s a great writing-focused site that covers all aspects of this writing life. There’s a great group of writers there, and I’m proud to be a part of it. If you’re in a querying place, you might be interested in the monthly Mystery Agent contests, too. Check those out here.

So there’s that.

The second bit of news is that Redemption Red has been chosen as a 2014 Kindle Book Review Semifinalist and is in the running to become a top 5 finalist! semifinalist

So that’s pretty cool. 🙂

There’s more news coming! Stand by… and thanks for all the love lately for the Wine Country Romances!

 

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I’m on a Roll…

I promise to get off my soapbox for the next post, but I’ve been thinking a bit about some of my writing heroes, wondering what they would make of the current publishing landscape. The Jazz Age writers discussed the difficulties of writing as a craft, leaving us lots of wonderful quotes about the virtues of working hard at writing. They didn’t talk as much about what happened after they did the writing, though insecurity was a common topic. So I’m led to believe that for the writers I’ve most admired, publication was not a foregone conclusion. They wrote because they needed to, had to; they wrote because they were writers.

What would Hemingway think of the publishing industry today? Would he stand with the old guard, defending traditional publishing though creating a bestseller often comes at the cost of an artist’s integrity? Would he be pleased to see that writers today have a modicum of control over what they create instead? In my mind, as long as the work is good — and that means that I’m not considering those writing simply to publish; those turning out commercial book after book and following a detailed plan that began with the market and ended with the writing only as an afterthought, or those who are putting out books that were not well formed enough to ever have been published traditionally — as long as the work is good then shouldn’t the writer be pleased to be able to deliver it to an eager readership him (or her) self? Shouldn’t we be happy to cut out the middleman and be able to take control of the fruits of our labors? I ask you – isn’t that what writing is about? The readers?

— Note: I am actually not disparaging those writers who are following a detailed marketing plan, turning out books on a schedule and offering reliable plot lines to an audience who turns to them expecting one thing and getting that one thing reliably. I think that’s a smart business and I’m disinclined to suggest that I might not try it at some point, too. After all, this is meant to be a living and if there is money to be made, I do not think less of those who have figured out how to make it. But that’s another post. Today I’m looking instead at those practicing a craft, an art. And yes, I think writers can do both. —

If traditional publishing offers statistics like these stating that most writers sell fewer than 500 books, I think I’ve chosen correctly. I’m not Stephen King or even Amanda Hocking… but I have had a steady 1 or 2 sales a day since I published my collection. No, it won’t make me rich. But I will tell you that it has made me astoundingly happy. And when the book was free through KDP? More than 1500 downloads. That’s a wider audience than I could have hoped for through traditional means, I believe.

Anyway, this all comes from my frustration at being barred from competing my short story collection in any of the literary awards competitions meant to reward a debut effort by a new writer. My book, bound and edited professionally as it is, full of stories that I beat myself up over for endless nights, is invisible to the lofty literati who control these awards. Until there is an allowance for self-published work to be regarded alongside (or at least judged against) traditionally published work, there will always be a divide between the two sides of publishing. And I believe that it’s this kind of exclusion that leads the more traditional thinkers to look down upon those of us who simply didn’t want to wait to offer our hearts to the world.

Perhaps the work should be allowed to stand on its own? Why not let us new kids try? The worst that can happen is that you find a new voice to applaud. Perhaps you’ll get to shake your heads sadly as you read self-published entrants to these competitions and say to yourselves, “We were right…” Wouldn’t that make you happy? Wouldn’t you feel such joy of vindication? Then you can write scholarly articles for each other about how right you were!

What do you think?

The Downfalls of Self-Publishing

I don’t want to give the impression that this publishing my book on my own was a bad experience. In general, I have been overwhelmed (in a very positive way) with the reception that I’ve received from unknown readers on Amazon. Some of the reviews have been stunning to me, and the reviews I’ve received from family and friends have been equally amazing. In some ways, publishing your own work is a bit like coming out. (Okay, not like I actually know what it’s like to come out. Notice I did say “a bit”…) I found that I had to reveal myself to people who believed that they knew me well. I had to admit some things that were hard, because there is no way to escape the fact that parts of these stories are autobiographical. (I’m not sayin’ which parts, y’all.) But those who know me well will see right through the characters I’ve created to act out my own dramas. And it’s also hard to admit that this is something I’m doing. That I’m serious about it. That it means…everything to me. Because if one of those trusted friends or family members casts disparaging words or thoughts my way… it just might break my heart. But that hasn’t happened.

What has happened is this: I’ve realized that the fiction awards in this country do not recognized self-published work. So that can be good or bad. I’m proud of this work, and I’d like to imagine that it might have a shot at recognition through some of the notable “first work published” awards out there. (See Poets & Writers for a listing). But every single one of the awards that acknowledges a first collection of stories published stipulates that self-published work does not qualify. I can see why they’ve established that rule… or why they did originally. But perhaps it’s time for the old guard to acknowledge that writers today are making a choice. It is probably quite arrogant to say that I believe I could have found a small press to publish my collection, making me eligible for all of the awards I revere. But I’ve said it, so it’s out there. But I wanted to put something OUT there. I wanted to push this off and let if have a life of its own, see if it could swim. I didn’t want to wait months on end for the favor of a response to my queries. I didn’t want to wait months on end for the slow grinding publishing wheels to turn. And so I did it myself. And I’ve essentially made these stories – of which I am so proud – completely null in the eyes of any critics who might bestow upon them an award that would garner some recognition for my work.

I’m not saying that I think I am award-worthy. I am saying that not even having the opportunity to find out is disappointing. And I’m saying that maybe it’s time that the stodgy traditionalists wake up and smell the new reality of publishing. Even some good writing is going to be self-published from here on out, folks. Deal with it.