What do you want?
That question, or some variation of it, is one we hear too many times to count during the course of our lives. What do you want to eat? What do you want to do? What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to come from X, Y or Z? It is a question each writer needs to ask at various points of their careers — what do you want to write? What do you want to be, indie or traditionally published? What do you want, money or awards? What do you want to be, a genre writer or a literary one?
Now, before your eyes glaze over, there’s a reason I’m posing all these questions. When someone new joins our critique group, one of the first things I ask is if they want to be traditionally published or want to go the indie route. The reason is simple. Those who know enough about the industry to understand they have options often are more receptive to critique. They also, for some reason, don’t seem to the sort of writer who chases down every writing seminar offered, near and far. There is a higher level of confidence, not necessarily in where their work stands now but in where they thing their work can be with help.
Something else I’ve discovered is that those who want to go indie seem to be more in tune with what is going on in the industry. They seem to follow the different writing blogs and pay attention to sites like Author Earnings. They recognize issues within traditional publishing — e-book pricing, for example — that are pulling the industry down.
Does that mean all authors who want to be traditionally published are behind the times when it comes to recognizing current trends or are more insecure in their work? Not at all. It means that, in my experience, there can be a different mind set, especially where new writers are concerned. That’s not bad and I’m certainly not condemning either side of the equation. What I am saying is that each side can learn from the other.
It wouldn’t hurt some of those on the indie side, myself included, to attend a few workshops along the way. Nor would it hurt those wanting to go traditional to be better aware of what is going on in the industry, both on the publisher side and on the indie side.
So, what workshops should we be looking at? A lot of that depends on what you need. I’ll admit, I have little use for most workshops run by agents. Why? Because they tend to focus on what is needed to maybe, if you’re really lucky, get an agent interested in your manuscript. It isn’t something that will necessarily make your work better for release as an indie. That’s not to say their information is bad. It is just limited. Of course, some of their information is valuable, as long as they are not the sort of agent who feels his way is the only way his clients should write. Yes, there are agents like that. Sarah can tell you about at least one.
What writers don’t really seem to understand is that agents might work for you but they also work for the publishers. Without publishers, literary agents are unnecessary. You don’t need an agent to publish indie or to publish with small presses. You don’t need an agent to negotiate audio rights or film rights, etc. A good IP attorney can and will do that for you and, guess what, they won’t take fees years later after having completed the job. So agents have a vested interest in making sure their clients stay with the traditional publishing model and in making sure that model continues to survive.
So, when an agent tells you how you should write or what you should write, you need to remember that agent is looking at what publishers want at that moment. Then you need to ask yourself if that is what you want to write or if that is how you want to write.
Again, the ultimate choice of which direction to go lies with each writer. I applaud anyone who is willing to put their work out into the public, whether it is to try to make the traditional publishing route of submitting to agents, finding one willing to take you on as a client and then sending your work off to publishers and waiting to see what happens next. I applaud those who choose the small press route or the indie route. Sending your work out the door is like letting your kid go out in public. You know it’s going to be all right, at least you hope so, but you still worry about someone telling you that your baby is ugly.
So, ask yourself “what do I want to do?”. The figure out the best way to go about it. But, before you answer, make sure you know the process and the timeframe involved. Make sure you understand the odds of success, no matter which path you take. Most of all, understand that there are certain things that will be the same, no matter what path you choose. You will still bear the responsibility of doing the majority of your own promotion. You will still bear the responsibility of making sure your manuscript is as well edited as possible (Yes, I know publishers say they will edit but, trust me on this, in too many cases that is a myth. You’re lucky if you get a decent copy edit and proofing).
Most of all, if you do go the traditional route, keep in mind two things when a contract comes your way. First, you aren’t in the position to renegotiate most of the contractual clauses. Unless you are being tagged as the “next best thing”, you are an interchangeable cog in the publishing business. Push too hard, rock the boat too much, and they will tell you “so sad, too bad, good bye”.
Second, and most important, consult a good IP attorney before signing anything. Make sure you understand what the contract says. Once you do, ask yourself if you are willing to give up whatever rights the publisher — or agent — wants you to. Ask yourself if the small percentage of royalties you will receive, assuming your book earns out (and that is far from a sure thing), are worth it. Only after you have answered those questions do you consider signing.
Now, since I mentioned promo, I guess I’d better do some. First up, Fire from Ashes is available for pre-order.
At war with an old enemy, betrayed by a supposed ally, Fuercon is a system on the brink of disaster. All that stands between it and defeat are its Space Navy and Marines – and the fact the betrayer does not yet know its secret plans have been discovered. But will that be enough to turn the tide of war?
Honor and duty.
Honor and duty have guided Colonel Ashlyn Shaw’s life for as long as she can remember. Honor kept her sane when she was betrayed by those she had fought beside. Duty gave her reason to trust again once the betrayal came to light and her name, as well as the names of her fellow Devil Dogs, was cleared. Now she and the Marines under her command are once again asked to risk their lives to protect Fuercon from its enemies.
Family and the Corps.
They are why she fights. She knows what will happen to them should Fuercon fall to the Callusians. Their lives are worth any sacrifice she must make to help keep their homeworld safe.
The not-so-secret driving force of Ashlyn’s life. Four years ago, someone betrayed her and her command. That person now works to betray Fuercon. Ashlyn is determined to discover who – and why – and bring them to justice.
The storm clouds of war gather and time is running out. Will Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs be able to turn back the enemy and unmask the betrayer before all is lost?
Also, after seeing if things have changed over the last few years, I have once again returned to Amazon-only releases. That means I have removed Vengeance from Ashes from all other outlets. Because it is no longer available elsewhere, I was able to take down the “expanded edition” on Amazon and republish the “original” edition (except with the new cover and the contents of the expanded edition). The reason I did it that way was to recover my original reviews. It really hurt my Amazon sales by not having those reviews for the first book in the series.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be releasing updated print editions of each of the books in the series as well.
For now, it is time to get to work. Until later!