Friday, April 20, 2012

Chase of a Lifetime the Series and Thoughts on Self-Publishing

Evidently, google blogger decided to change things and I'm not sure how this post is going to look. Please excuse any errors. It's going to take a while to get used to this. But in a way, it's more than appropriate to write a post like this on a completely new blogging format.

What prompted this post was a blog post I read late last night by a talented young blogger I started following a short time ago. His name is T.D. McFrost and he's been doing the A-Z blogging challenge. Yesterday's post was "P" and he talked about publishing. Here's a link. I thought this comment was especially interesting.

It's been remarkable watching publishing evolve into what it is now. Five years ago self publishing was like a curse to writers; a doomed choice to those unlucky or talentless few to kill their dreams; now it's a thriving segment of publishing that has the potential to overcome the traditional route.

He's also been posting about "Fifty Shades of Grey," a book that seems to fascinate us all for various reasons. T.D. is excited about FSoG and looks at it as an opportunity. Some posts I've read despise the book so much one blogger was snarky enough to compare it to "The Bridges of Madison County." Personally, though I wouldn't consider FSoG great literature I did like it and I do think it has earned its place on the bestseller list. For me, it's all about the reader and what the reader wants, not what the elitist in publishing wants to force the reader to read. It's nice when there's a balance of great literature and mainstream pop culture. But it doesn't happen often. And there will always be those on one side or the other.

The post written by T.D. McFrost resonated with me because I just self-published my first book after years of getting published with small presses who I guess would be considered "traditional" publishers. I never had any major complaints. But I also never knew what it was like to have complete control over my work. In this sense I've always been pragmatic: the publisher gets the last word and I accept that. I don't like to create tension, I work well with other people, and I tend to trust their judgement more than my own sometimes. But a series of events in the last year frustrated me so much, and I found myself conceding to someone else's vision of what my work should be so often, self-publishing seemed to be my only option.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not jumping ship and I'm still a huge fan of most publishers. I have books out with publishers I will continue to support. My decision to self-publish wasn't brought on by bitterness or negativity. I have repeatedly stated how much I love working with and how much I love all their titles. I have nothing but absolute respect for them. Although I've never worked with Silver Press or Dreamspinner Press, I love what they do and I've read more than a few of their titles and I've been pleased. I also think Seventh Window Press is a publisher to watch out for in the future. They are releasing some very interesting titles I've marked for my own TBR list.

I'm not the only published writer who has checked out self-publishing. There are writers who are far more important than me who have decided to do it, too. I can't speak for them and I don't know what motivated them. But they are doing it and the concept of self-publishing is becoming more and more popular. I know there are a lot of bad self-published books out there. Unfortunately, the reader is the one going through the proverbial slush pile now in some cases. I've run across a few that turned my stomach. And this is why it's so important for self-published authors to focus on things like quality and product information...even if it reaches the point of being repetitive. And it's just as important for readers to know how to vet the books they are planning to buy. If they don't see any product information or any mention of quality control about a self-published book they should be wary.

I know I took the long road to get to the theme of this post. But "Chase of a Lifetime" will be a series and I'll start working on the next "Chase" book as soon as I release my next book. Right now I'm finishing up another full length novel I will be self-publishing on Amazon as soon as its ready. Because the editing and formatting process takes so long, I won't be able to give an exact release date for at least the next three weeks. This book is different in some ways than anything I've done before. It's m/m romance with a slight twist. I get into some light BDSM, which I've never done before. Getting this right isn't easy either. I had to do some interesting research. One of the main characters is also one of the most complicated I've ever done.

I also have a new release coming out with titled, "Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy." On top of that, I'm submitting a short story to an editor at Cleis Press early next week titled, "Frat Boys and Sloppy Joe." The back story with this one is interesting. It's actually one of the reasons why I decided to self-publish on Amazon. An editor decided to cut 10,000 words out of a novel I wrote, I agreed reluctantly, and then re-worked the cut scene into a short story for this Cleis Press book. I'll post more about that in the future; like I said, it's interesting (smile). In this case I don't think the Cleis Press book will be out until at least September or October of 2012.


T.D. McFrost said...

I'm the kind of writer who will hesitate to write something unless I meet certain requirements: I must be full, wide awake, in the mood and not currently suffering from brain fog. I've been trying to write my YA for months but I'm afraid once I start it'll be crap and no one will want to read it. But then I read books like Twilight (strictly for research), My Blood Approves series and FSOG (also for research:D) and I realized my stuff doesn't have to be perfect. I'm not the greatest writer in the world, nor do I want to be. As long as I follow the craft, revise my stuff and come up with a killer concept, then I have nothing to worry about.

In short, we live in an era where dudes fresh out of college sell apps for billions of dollars and amateur authors can become successful overnight. For those who cling to the publishing industry's conservative past, accepting the change from paper to electronic and literary genius to amateur novelist will be daunting, but, you see, this change is necessary if publishing is to survive. The majority of people are plugged into technology and they demand their entertainment be quick, cheap, enjoyable and, above all else, trendy. Very few people have the patience to decipher a literary work of art, nor do they really care for such stories. That leaves publishing in a rut because if people don't buy their stuff, they can't stay afloat. That is why these poorly written, yet addictive novels are vital: people buy them; they'r entertaining, cheap and, above all else, trendy.

Self publishing is now a viable option to "feed the beast" so to speak. Promoting your work will be difficult, but if you're smart enough and know how to tap into social media the rewards will be unprecedented. Fifty Shades of Grey started as fanfiction and caught ignited into a frenzy thanks to the Twihards, then there's the tale of Amanda Hocking and her series, which started out as a cheap selfpublished ebook and is now a very successful paperback.

I said it before and I'll say it again, Ryan, we live in the platinum age of publishing and the sky is the limit for us writers who know how to work the system.

Thanks for giving me an outlet to share my opinion on the matter.

ryan field said...

I agree. And I'm glad you're excited about all this. You should be. And it's all happened so fast...or at least it feels that way.

T.D. McFrost said...

I think it started after the advent of social network giants like Twitter and Facbook. These outlets opened new doors in terms of marketing.

ryan field said...

It did have a great deal to do with it. But I also know the technology for e-books was around at least fifteen years ago. Large publishers knew this and didn't pay attention to it. Amazon was the first to go with the concept, and Steve Jobs was ahead of everyone when it came to e-books. So what's been happening didn't just happen overnight, even though it feels that way.

T.D. McFrost said...