Obligatory Gift Idea Reminder Post

One week to Christmas. Remember the ease of giving readable gifts this season! (See visual below for two good examples)
They are great books, but don’t take my word for it. You can read 4 & 5-star verified-purchase reviews on Amazon: http://ift.tt/2nAqbm9 and on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36425571.
Ebooks. Paperbacks. Audios. Pick your format, there’s something for everyone. No, really.
(Sorry, no sweeping political intrigue sagas, no grimdark grit, no bloody horror. Just good, solid characters, thrills, and surprises.)

(Editing to add the review below because wow. As a lifelong X-Men fan, I’m torn. I feel I should somehow defend their iconic goodness but am too busy melting from the power of the complimentary comparison.)

 

What Publishers Do (a grumpy rant)

Time to revisit a topic that irks me hard: indie authors dissing useless “publishers.”  I use scare quotes because publishing options have  grown right along with self-publishing.  Back in the day author choices were limited to three–the Big Publishers,  a predatory vanity publisher, or self-publishing–but today complaining about “publishers” is a lot like complaining about “food.” It’s so broad a category it’s meaningless.

And yet people do it. Four times in the last week I’ve seen posts  that were all variations on this: “Why would I bother working with a publisher when they don’t promote/market/support me or my book?”

YAARRRGGHHHH  <I would insert hair-pulling-out graphic here but I am too lazy>

Pull up an orange crate to the cider barrel, and Old Curmudgeon Karen will tell you a tale about publishing. First off, the word publish refers to making a book, not about what happens afterwards. The majority of what a publisher does is NOT marketing.

PUBLISHERS DO A LOT OF BORING HARD EXPENSIVE THINGS FOR YOU SO YOU CAN FOCUS MORE ON WRITING. If I was being published by someone else I would not have to:

  • locate all the right developmental, copy & proof editors for each of my works, negotiate with said editors on fees and schedules, or chase after them about deadlines. Plus I wouldn’t have to PAY them.
  • all the same issues for interior ebook formatting & for print
  • same-same for cover design

That’s a lot of time, money, and trouble avoided right there. I ALSO would be leaving to someone else the following tedious, expensive hassles:

  • the PITA of getting books logged into the ISBN & copyright databases
  • ditto the actual production of print books & posting to various sales
  • ditto-ditto double-checking the results in same for errors

Yes, I would lose some creative control. But I would gain lots and lots and lots of time. And reduce stress.  That is a trade-off.  One I would gladly make, TBH.

Even in the old days, the big publishing houses were never big into promoting books or authors outside NYC/the literary community. Until the late 80’s, major book promotions really were not a thing period. The book industry kind of backed into major marketing efforts way later than most entertainment businesses.

Publishers used to release most books the way mama turtles have babies. They made ’em, laid em out there, and the babies either swam or got eaten by seagulls.  If an author was already a big name–or impressed the heck out of Everyone at the Company–their book would get ads in the industry mags or the New York Review of Books or some targeted professional publication and they might even get a book tour. BUT.  BUTBUTBUT.  This was rarely an expectation for debut or midlist authors, at least not in the “all expenses paid” way. Unicorn rare.

Most books got entries in the “new release” section of industry mags, were listed in the indexes, and might get promoted word-of-mouth by sales reps to librarians & booksellers. Those people would read and pass on recommendations of their own to book groups and local newspapers, and so on and so on.

Do major publishers now give authors less marketing support after publication  than ever before? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing? YES. They also take on fewer authors, pay them lower royalties and engage in a slew of other practices that beggar the book world. That’s kinda beside the point.

The point is, marketing never has been the fundamental core of publishing. Ignoring that reality is petty and shortsighted. And pettiness irks me.

Okay. Rant over.

Gah. Oof.

Patience, I tell my tired brain. Patience!  But brain says, “NOW! I want to be done.”

Can’t blame it. I’m edging ever closer to completing the project I planned to finish in July. (You know, the plans I made before life took a sharp turn at the intersection of Caregiver Lane and Lazybutt Drive.)  Soon it will be done. Soon I’ll be able to hammer psychological nails into my First Book Series ™ and move on. For reals. Forever.

I entered second edition print proof corrections for Controlled Descent yesterday. Spent today on proof corrections for Weaving In the Ends. Uploaded files for both book interiors to Createspace tonight and went through every last page using the online reviewer.

waiting-game-meme-generator-and-now-the-waiting-game-07fc04

I must await review approvals from Createspace now. They’re fast considering what they do (12-72 hours on weekends) , but it’s still WAITING.

After that, all I need are the new cover and the proofread for Flight Plan, and I’ll be a bare baby step of away from done. Okay, a long hop. I’ll have to also upload ebook editions once the print proofs pass review.  Still, it’s so close, and I’m past ready to lock down that constant flutter of, “I need to fix this one last thing.”

These were my learning books. Not the learning to write books, oh, no. You won’t see those unless you stray into the hinterlands of Wattpad. No, these these were my learn-to-publish books. They will always have a special place in my heart for that, they will always be perfect firsts, but they’ll never be as good as what came next.

When I started this authoring adventure I  didn’t have much in the way of resources. I had plenty of experience with the principles of formatting and preparing a manuscript for market. What I lacked were tools, experience, and community. I am a solitary cat by nature. Networking comes hard to me.)

I was and am comfortable in the harsh glare of the public marketplace.  I was also comfortable flying solo and hiring out work to strangers. So I made my first books the best, most perfect first books they could be, and when the market proved to me I wasn’t the only one who loved them,  I started the next quest.

I collected better tools and learned to use them, I made personal connections and collected allies in art, and experience taught me how to dance where before I had stumbled. Also, let’s be clear, the self-publishing/formatting process has been streamlined and improved immensely in the three short years I’ve been in this gig.

The twist? The more I learned, the more things I made, the more I yearned to make those first efforts better. Their flaws pricked at my attention, distracting me from newer dreams. At last I said, “Fine. I’ll invest time and the cash I’ve earned into elevating those first books from first-best to best-they’ll-ever-be, and then I will wash my hands of them for good.”

How close am I now? SO CLOSE. So close I can relax and sleep now, and dream of the done stage.