It’s quite fitting on this—my birthday—that not only would I be releasing my first independent book, (Strange Faces), but that I would be undergoing a major shift in my writing career. Since 1992 I have been traditionally published. That means I queried agents and publishing houses and got traditional contracts with advances that had to be paid back with royalties. I wrote 18 novels this way.
During the past few years, I’ve fancied myself as something of a hybrid author with one foot in traditional publishing and one foot as an Indie. I’ve been able to get the rights back on many of my older and out-of-print books which I’ve re-edited, re-covered and gotten them out there for sale. But I didn't want to give up that elusive promise of a contract with the Big 6 - oops, Big 5. Well, maybe Medium Sized 5 by now.
Like so many authors of late, though, I am stepping over that fence and planting both of my feet on the new green grass of Indie publishing. I no longer have an agent. I no longer have a publishing contract with any traditional house. I’m on my own.
It’s been a strange and weird and a long process over the past couple of years. And if I had a nickel for every coulda, woulda and shoulda, I’d have enough to buy a whole library of books for my Kobo.
You have to have lived under a bush for the last number of years not to notice how much technology has totally changed our lives. How many of us drive down to the local video store and come home with a VHS in our hand for our evening’s entertainment? How many of us buy music CDs? Like me, you probably buy all of your music online and rent your movies from iTunes where you browse them in the comfort of your own living room.
The same has happened to publishing. As more and more readers devour their books on Kobos, Kindles and iPads, the old bricks and mortar bookstores have taken quite a beating. Used books are bought more for their collectible value than for actual reading. My husband and I don’t even go to the library any more. Our province’s library system is hooked into the Overdrive program, and we can “go to the library” while we sit in our easy chairs and click a few links. A good thing? Bad thing? You may long for the good old days, but it won’t change anything. The changes are pretty much here to stay and I’m predicting more to come.
Authors, too are changing. Instead of having to work through gatekeepers such as agents and publishers, we can just sit down at our desks and with a few pushes of a button, we can put our great Canadian novel out there for all the world to read. We set the price. We can even put our books on sale if we feel like it. Every day we can check and see how many people have bought our books that day, something that is virtually impossible with the older publishing model.
Today, on my birthday—yes, back to that—I’m putting out my first book length original work, a collection of general market short mystery stories that I’m pretty proud of. In fact, I’m very proud of them. In the coming months I will be getting a new mystery out there, featuring a wonderful amateur sleuth that I love. More about that later.
My intention in these blogs is to take you on this journey with me as I move through the self-publishing process. If you’re a reader, you’ll get to see what I do all day. (Oh fun!) If you’re an author, it might even be educational, or at least you can avoid the mistakes I’ve made.
I’ve chosen to align myself with a publishing group, The Alexandria Publishing Group, but I’ll write more about that in a future blog. There will be more about everything in future blogs, including the blogs I devour daily, the self-pubbing podcasts I listen to, the books I read, the online groups I belong to and the advice I follow.
My birthday present this year was this huge mural of the NY city night sky. As I stand in front of it I can pretend I’m looking out and across to New Jersey where I spent all of my growing up years my nose in a book, and reading far into the night, and dreaming of one day being a writer.
So, I invite you to go on this self-publishing journey with me.