Publishing,  Writing

What if I Change My Mind?

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I’m not sure when it became a bad thing for people to change their minds in the light of new information or an evolving situation. If you look back at things, are you likely to hold the same views on everything at forty as you did at twenty? Seems unlikely. The world is different, the things that surround you are different, and you’ve had twice as much life experience so you’re different.

So what have I changed my mind on today?

Pursuing traditional publishing at novel-length as a productive use of my time.

I had been working on the route where I’m pursuing both routes, independent and traditional, but the work/reward ratio doesn’t look like it’s worthwhile anymore on the traditional side.

Yes, it can still be done, and I think that I can probably do it, given time, energy, and persistence, but I’ve slowly come to the realization, watching as successful traditional authors slowly (or quickly) divorce themselves from traditional publishing, and as some authors never take that route in the first place, that I don’t think it’s worth the time commitment for me.

There are a lot of arguments, a lot of things you can look at that have brought me to this decision. The way advances are done. The rewrite process at major publishers (yes, I’m going with anecdotal horror stories here, but they’re fairly widespread). The contraction of the publishing industry and slow gathering of power into a small handful of big companies who are all struggling with severely outdated business models. The way authors’ contracts are frequently written. That it’s somehow more cost effective for big publishers to sign someone to a 1-3 book contract and then replace them with someone else signed to a 1-3 book contract if they aren’t instantly as popular as Stephen King. The length of time, and number of editing passes, between your final draft and actual publication. That you can only write what they want for what they think the market (that they force the shape of) wants right now.

It all comes down to one thing, though: the traditional publishing industry is about publishers, not authors.

Seems kind of obvious when it’s put that bluntly.

So the question becomes, why should I expend the effort to break into an industry that isn’t going to work for me no matter how hard I work for it?

It’s not all that way, of course. I’m talking about Big Publishing. But there aren’t that many publishers at that second tier, that middle level anymore and it’s a hard market for them. They’re also getting the same level of submissions as big publishing houses and so get to publish only the best of what they like, which is good, but the level of competition means there are a lot of great stories that should get published and don’t.

The short-fiction side of the industry is bubbling and thriving and expanding. Sure, there are a lot of short-lived publications, but there’s also never a lack of great short fiction available. I’m not abandoning short fiction submissions, but it hasn’t been a focus of mine for several years. I’m turning back towards it in the second half of this year, though, because I’ve never lost my love of short fiction, reading or writing.

But I’m really talking about novel-length work here, where the indie route means I have complete creative control over the entire process from the initial scribbled idea to the final release of the e-book and even paperback design.

And sure, that means I’ve had to learn how to design my own covers and do my own layouts and learn new software and build a social media presence and blog effectively. Sure, it means I have to keep learning and relearning all of those things, over and over again so I keep getting better at them. So what? Learning stuff makes me happy, too. I’m investing the time into bettering myself and my skills instead of rewriting the same book over and over again until it bears only a passing resemblance to what I originally committed to the keyboard and is ready for publication by someone’s definition who’s never even met me.

The ultimate result is probably that I get to write a lot more stories, and that’s kind of an important part of things for me, too. I have a lot of stories I want to tell. For 2020, I’m in catch up mode for revising and editing. Honestly, that will probably stretch into 2021, too, since I have a lot of stuff I’ve drafted in the last few years and not edited, and I have a lot of stuff I have edited that I haven’t done anything with. If everything I currently have at between 1st and final draft that I haven’t published were to release at the rate of 1 book per month (not even looking at short fiction), I can get to Spring 2022 before things that I’m currently drafting get to the front of the line. And then there are all the things I have planned.

I have a lot of stories to tell, and I’ve figured out that it really isn’t that important to me to get them published traditionally. I don’t think I can live long enough for that to happen, anyway.

Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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