Saturday, July 6, 2019

When Your Imaginary Friends Take Control

You may be wondering why I haven't posted in a couple of months. As you can see from the photo I've been busy writing the sequel to BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA. Since my publisher was not interested in this book, I'm opting to Independently publish it (and its sequel.) 

This means I'm now a "hybrid author." Two of my critique partners are also hybrids, and they coaxed me to give it a go.

After weighing the pros and cons, I reluctantly decided to journey down the self publishing path.

I choose my own cover designer and title, and have control over the book's content. I also manage the price points and decide when to put it on sale. Plus, any royalties come directly to me. In addition, I can update the book's content any time and own all the rights. No more sending out query after query to hear "not right for our list, we just published a similar title, we like the writing but didn't relate to the characters..." Yes, I could have continued to query, but I had two strikes against me:

One, while BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA is highly praised and was shortlisted for a major award, it didn't sell enough copies to set the world on fire. 'Writing is an art, publishing is a business' is a mantra we authors often hear at writer's conferences. You can craft beautiful sentences and well create developed characters in an engaging story, but if your book doesn't produce great sales figures in a short window of time, your next book is a harder sell.   

Two, the characters aged up a year. YA characters tend to max at age eighteen, but the protagonist Michael is now nineteen. Technically, they are New Adult, which is a dying (Maybe already dead) category.

Perhaps the third strike is Contemporary YA is a super crowded market. My characters aren't diverse enough to compete with filling the much needed gaps in the YA canon. So, the odds were ever not in my favor to go traditional this time.

I'm responsible for all the costs of cover design, formatting, editing, and advertising. In addition, I pay for all proofs and author copies and other marketing materials. I now have to pay attention to sales rankings, hone my subject categories, and fret over my pending obscurity.

Part of the reason BWN didn't sell is because I'm a terrible marketer. I want my clone to send out postcards and contact book bloggers to beg for reviews. There's a whole minefield of business practices indy writers must perform. By going rogue, I'm taking a huge risk because I don't have a clone, so it's all on me.

Having a big 5 publisher behind you gives you street cred in the trade. You're treated like a rock star at library and book conferences, and you make friends with other stars in the business. While it's waning somewhat, there's still a stigma against being "a self-published writer." 

So why am I doing this? 

Fans of BWN want to know what happens next with Michael and Shelly. I hadn't intended to write a series. My characters coerced me into it. I spent a lot of time with these people, and grew to love them. 

Also, I'm not prone to do the logical, practical thing. But I believe in these stories.

I'm also a fan of irony. While indy writers are relegated to a lower position on the pecking order compared to traditionally published writers, the irony is, a large percentage of indys make more money than their counterparts. The ones who make money and get great reviews go through the same careful process of creating a book. The difference is, we own all the stakes.  

The primary reason I'm indy publishing is I need these stories off my desk and out of my head so I can focus on my current (work in progress (WIP.) I'm 36,000 words into the next book (which will be a stand alone,) yet Michael and Shelly keep barking at me to get their story out there. These books are their fault.

The paperback of BLUE VALENTINES is out now, and the eBook is due out July 9, 2019.

The third and final book of the Michael/Shelly saga, THE LANGUAGE OF THE SON, will be coming in August. 

Happy Writing.

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