Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 1 Update - and What Would I Do Differently?

Today's Progress: 1631 Words (completed chapter 1)
Running Total: 1631 Words

1631 / 60000 words. 3% done!

In the meantime I'm thinking about how much publishing is in flux right now. Nobody knows what the right thing to do is any more. Joe Konrath is recommending the complete abandonment of traditional publishing. I know that's right for me. I already decided to do that months ago. But a number of new writers have popped up on various blogs and forums, and I don't know that the brave new world of indie publishing is right for them. Yet.

I've been pondering what I would do differently if I were starting out now. How would I prepare myself to work in this new climate?

If I were starting out from scratch, I'd have to take into consideration how very slooowwwwly traditional publishing works, and how very fast epublishing is -- and I would try to use both to my advantage.

When you start out, you need to have one foot on the accelerator and one on the brake. You need to write like mad but you also need some time to get your feet under you. To gain perspective. To get a network of friends and colleagues in place. Traditional publishing is great for that. It slows you down, and teaches you to submit a manuscript and forget about it while you work on something else.

Self-publishing gives you too much feedback too fast. You can see your stats and hits and get your Google alerts on your book. It lures you into spending all your time on marketing, and networking and checking your stats and advertising. And you need to NOT do that. At least not at first. You need to concentrate on writing.

The other thing is that I see the most angst coming from writers who have the first book in a series published, and they're struggling to get the second ready as fast as they can. The happiest writers I see are those who actually had several books written before they started to publish.

There may be something -- for some writers anyway -- to combining traditional with indie publishing.

First of all, you don't have to succumb to all the negatives of traditional publishing. You don't have to write to chase the market. If you write the first book in a series or trilogy, you can freely keep writing on that series, and not worry about what will happen if you don't sell the first. That was something that killed me and was the worst mistake of my life -- I listened to people who said you should hold off on writing a second book in a series until you have sold the first. Instead, you should write a bunch of first books to improve your marketing chances.

Since you can fall back on indie publishing, you never have to worry about such things any more. You can write what you want. Furthermore, because traditional publishing takes So Darned Long, you don't have to worry about making up your mind any time soon. Go ahead and submit. Gather rejection slips and advice. Learn your craft. And by the time you have a couple of books under your belt, you'll be ready to make that decision about your career.

And if your decision is to go for self-publishing, you will have more books at your fingertips, and you can actually start your publishing career with a bang.


ModWitch said...

I'm actually taking this advice very much to heart. I've put up some basic web pages and things, but I finished book 1 (first draft), and I'm writing a novella while I let the first one percolate.

I will pub as the books are finished, and do a little, carefully chosen marketing. But I think I'll mostly focus on writing until I have at least 3 or 4 books done. I have a decent background in marketing. I assume if the books are any good, they will eventually sell. First I need to learn how to write, and I'm not sure that process can really be sped up a whole lot.

The Daring Novelist said...

Actually, what I was trying to say if I were starting as a complete beginner, I would hold back. I would not publish books as they were finished, but market to traditional publishers for the experience while I finished writing my first batch. Then I'd go for it as an indie when I felt the iron was hot.

But that is just one way to go. You have to look at ideas like this and take what works for you. There isn't any harm in publishing as you go. I would just want to hold back, knowing the difficulty of building an audience with one single book.

In the end, do what makes you get up in the morning, eager to work on your next novel. That's one thing that indie publishing can do -- just having stuff out there gives you energy.

ModWitch said...

Okay, so I didn't take all the advice to heart :). The part that spoke most to me is waiting to hit the marketing heavily until I have multiple things written. I don't think it will do harm to publish them, so long as I don't get distracted by marketing.

I don't have any interest in querying trad publishers/agents, but I think taking time to learn to write well is advice well taken.

That's the advantage of starting when you're 40 - you can take the pieces that work for you, and be crotchety about the rest :).

The Daring Novelist said...

Yeah, you don't strike me as a real beginner. When you're twenty, you've got time, and frankly, you need more life experience. As you get older, you have experience to draw on, but you don't have as much time.

I think that's another thing that the publishing world (indie and traditional) doesn't always recognize how many different ways you gain experience. We see someone succeed who seems to come out of nowhere with nothing, but really, they very often have something to leverage that's invisible to us. They have vast experience with a certain demographic which turns out to be their main audience, for instance. Marketing background, contacts, a great artist or accountant for a spouse. You never know.

ModWitch said...

What a lovely thought. I am a total beginner as far as fiction writing goes - but yeah, I've got plenty of life to draw on. I need to learn to say it well, but my first books are full of odd little pieces from my life. Just finished a really fun novella that worked in everything I know about guppy sex. Sometimes what you studied in school really can be useful :).

The Daring Novelist said...

So is this going to sell well among adolescents fishies?


ModWitch said...

If they have 99 cents, I'll take them!