Monday, January 20, 2014

I Had a Publishing Dream...

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., day! He had a dream--I wrote a post about it here (link)!

Today, I'm thinking about something that was on my mind last week, but "life and being a mom" kind of knocked me off my schedule.

So you're getting it now. Ready?

In 2009, I had a dream of being a traditionally published author, having my books on bookstore shelves, being reviewed in Entertainment Weekly, maybe having a movie or a TV series made from one of them...

In 2011, when many of my closest, most trusted author-friends were jumping ship and heading into the world of independent publishing, I landed an agent for my book Rouge (link).

Eventually that agent secured me a basic contract with a Big Six publisher (there were still six in 2011).

Sometimes I wish I'd been brave enough to walk away from that situation in 2011, but it took me until 2012 to see what was happening in traditional publishing and to understand that if I wasn't getting a SUPERSTAR contract, I needed to high-tail it out of there. Fast.

I've been an independent/self-published author since September 2012, and my first book The Truth About Faking (link) has sold almost 50,000 copies worldwide.

That sounds like a lot. That is a lot! But I actually have independent-author friends who sell that much in a month. Some sell twice that much in a month.

So I'm kind of a mid-list independent author.

What's the point?

Two weeks ago I was flipping through my Entertainment Weekly for the week ending Jan. 16, 2014. Usually I skip over the "Books" section, but on this day I stopped to check out the Fiction Top 10 list.

Ready for the names?

#1-John Grisham
#2-James Patterson
#3-Tom Clancy
#4-Stephen King
#5-Mitch Albom
#6-Janet Evanovich....

Are you seeing my point now?

I have no intention of going on a rant about traditional publishing, But Gah! They really make it difficult sometimes. John Grisham? Tom Clancy???

As a former editor and a college grad with a Master's in mass communication, who started out focused on book publishing, I understand the business of making money.

But jeez louise, could that list demonstrate any more clearly how nothing has changed?

I have a second-degree author-friend (a friend of a friend), and a few weeks ago, she was brave enough to write a blog post about how less than broke she is as a mid-list selling author with a Big Five publisher.

She's pretty well-known. You would know her name if I put it here. But I won't. Why?

Because in less than one hour after she posted, it went viral. And in less than fifteen minutes of me reading it, it was GONE.

I don't know if her publisher muzzled her or her agent... or if she really did decide (as she said) it probably was tacky to put actual numbers online for the world to see.

You know what I think is tacky? The continued treatment of new authors with interesting stories to tell, new voices, as less than second-class citizens in favor of the same old boring lineup of guaranteed freight movers.

A few of my indie-author friends are discouraged about how hard it is to rise above the noise right now.

Some of them are returning to the traditional merry-go-round because they're tired, and it's not so easy to throw a title up there and make a million dollars any more. (Not that this little black duck ever did.) The word is out!

But this Entertainment Weekly list only demonstrated to me what I felt in my gut: Going back is just setting yourself up for the same old treatment.

Yes, I understand your exhaustion and frustration, author-friends. I feel it, too.

But rather than whopping myself over the head anymore for not being daredevil enough to jump into the indie pool when the rest of you did, I'm going to be thankful right now.

I'm thankful I got that first book deal with the Big Six publisher. Why? Because it was the same deal my second-degree friend got, and I heard in her post the heartbreak and the loss I'd be feeling over being overlooked and earning less than a paperboy for my work. I have children to feed and send to college, too.

Self-publishing is hard work.

Yes, it is. But guess what else it is? It's freedom.

I can give away copies of my books--as many as I like!--and I can decide what comes next. I often chat with my reader-friends about what they like, and if I want to promote one of my titles, I can hold a contest and/or modify my prices and/or change my covers...

You know what else?

Do self-publishing well enough, and contrary to what they were all telling us in 2011, you will end up right there beside the John Grishams, etc.--if that's what you choose to do.

Self-publishing doesn't close any doors. It only opens a whole world of new ones.

Have a super week, reader friends! Fight the power--read a new author for a change. *wink* 

10 comments:

Old Kitty said...

Oh my goodness, it's MLK day!! Awww happy MLK day!! Yay!!! What a great man to celebrate!

Oh it's too scary when authors cease to become human beings are are turned into commercial brands. LOL! Sorry - good luck to them and all the best to you and to all authors who are still individuals with their own unique voices! Take care
x

Tara said...

I so agree with you, girl! I stuck my foot in the water today with one of my novellas. It feels pretty good so far. My point is not to make millions--it's to share my writing. And my name will never be Grisham or Evanovich so it's not likely to happen with a "big" 5.

erica and christy said...

Thanks for this post! I'm so excited about going indie when I finish this manuscript and make it as perfect as it can be! I love hearing you all share your journeys and viewpoints. I appreciate it a lot. Best of luck to you and congrats for all your successes! Christy

Barbara Watson said...

You've given us so much to consider, Leigh. Thank you.

Botanist said...

I'm aware of the blog post you're talking about, and even if the author decided to take it down I'm willing to bet that her agent or publisher "helped" her to reach that conclusion.

I'm seeing more posts along these lines recently, and it is heartening for me, as I plod slowly but steadily along my own path to self-publishing. Thanks for the encouragement!

Patti said...

The best thing about publishing today is now there's a choice whereas ten years ago there wasn't. I'm still trying to make my decisions, but posts like this help.

Kelly Polark said...

Excellent post, Leigh.

So glad there are so many ways for an author to go right now.

Susanne Drazic said...

Great post, Leigh!

Karen clayton said...

I read a post on ThinkingtoInking.blogspot.com about salaries of authors. Some of the numbers shocked me, some didn't. I think the whole point of writing though is that it is a passion. Money comes second. That said I so agree with you about the Traditional Publishing. It is frustrating for new voices and authors to break into that hence self publishing. Congratulations on your success in that role for that is amazing. Not only have you written a book and seen it published, but you've also had some success on that. Kudos and happy writing.

Chris said...

Hi Leigh, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/