Thursday, November 10, 2011

How I Almost Fell Into the "Quick n' Easy Trap"

So, I've been blogging about digital self-publishing, the new spin on self-publishing in general, how easy it's gotten, and I offered examples of folks whom I think are doing it carefully, thoughtfully, while still believing in the future of the "gate keeper" and "publisher".   In all this, I think author Richard Wright (Hiram Grange & The Nymphs of Krakow) got it right with this:
"So publishers have to change what they're for. Three good examples are Angry Robot Books, Abaddon Books, and Snowbooks. These are publishers that know what they like, and they're good at representing themselves, the publishers, as an identity. They talk to their readers, and the tone of that dialogue helps to identify them further. People are fans of Angry Robot Books. They're fans of Snowbooks. They're fans of Abaddon Books. 

You think many people are fans of Penguin?"

I don't think truer words could've been spoken.  We need that gate keeper or SOMETHING there to filter our works through, so they can be the best they can be.  But the model of huge publishing is creaking and talked about here, in Richard's post....and SOMETHING has to change.

So maybe that's where the future lies.  In publishers like the ones mentioned above, and I'll throw in  Medallion Press and Shroud (though I'm partial to the latter, of course) as PUBLISHING companies that have fans, too.  We NEED them to thrive, because even with the ease of digital self-publishing so quickly, whenever we want....'s a trap.  A clever trap.

One I almost fell into.

So, here's the thing - can I be honest?

I'm tired. 

Really tired.   Not of writing, but of submitting blindly, with no clear home for my work.  That's where part of the fire came from in writing Hiram Grange & The Chosen One.  I'd been contracted to write it, with a token advance.  Had a deadline. Got feedback from my publisher and fellow Hiram Grange mates.  That, my friends, was SUCH a rush.  It empowered me to write every single day for hours in ways I can't even describe.

Do you know how long ago that was, now?

Roughly three years.

In the past year and half?  Well, I guess I've sold three short stories, but there's no word on them being published any time soon.  And I'm not griping about that, because that's the game, and I'm used to it.  Really excited about those stories and where they've landed, can't wait to see them.

Also, my interactions with Harper Teen were great.  I loved my conversations with the senior acquisitions editor there, she was kind enough to refer me to several agents, telling me to drop her name, even.  She didn't have to do that, and I'm thankful she did.  And, though those agents all passed on the project, that's okay, too, because I've come to believe I'm probably just not a Teen/YA writer, after all.

And, I really enjoyed working on my "BIG NOVEL" until I shelved it for later, and I've really enjoyed working on my Billy the Kid project (although, after receiving an ARC for Kevin J. Anderson's Captain Nemo, I'm pumped to get this finished, soon!), and WRITING ITSELF is still great, awesome, rewarding and fulfilling.  And I COMPLETELY believe in the future of a publisher.

But I'm tired.

My spirits and confidence in my work and my future in publishing is lagging.  Will this be a career?  A short lived hobby? Does ANYONE want my work, at all?

(yes, I know.  Insert violin music here...)

Anyway, I decided that, while I wasn't ready to jump into self-publishing, I thought it'd be cool to start publishing something here on the website.  An idea I'd tooled with for a bit about a series of interconnected novellas, Charles Grant/Oxrun Station style.  Even made a page for it, with a lame place-holder image. And then....

I almost fell into the trap.

Of rushing something into production just so I could show it off.  Of writing something really fast and throwing out in front of folks, just because I could. Violating all my principles about taking the time to craft something carefully well-done.

I realized pretty quickly what was happening.  And, luckily, something behind the scenes - which I can't talk about yet - developed about the time I'd decided to shelve the project. Something that re-vitalized me, at least reaffirmed that my work has a place somewhere, and has given me something tangible to work towards, while still continuing on with my other efforts. 

The Black Pyramid won't be ready for at least another year. But I'm leaving that page there, because I'm still going to experiment.  But I'm determined, commited, more than ever...

That ANYTHING worth doing - ESPECIALLY Art (because that's what this IS, after all) - takes time.  Carefully, well-spent TIME.

Self-publishing and digitally self-publishing may be easier than ever.

But writing something of quality craftsmanship?  That's NEVER easy.

Because that's what makes it worthwhile, in the first place.