Thursday, August 14, 2014

And Then Again ...

Last week I talked about the serial story I’ve got going over on Shapeshifter Seductions, and listed all the reasons why I won’t be gathering it into a self-published free read. Well, today I’m taking most of that back. Yes, it would mean a ton of work and we can’t charge for it. But then Savanna pointed out a free novel would make an excellent promotional tool for our blog and our shared universe. I’m not sure how excellent of a novel it would make, considering most of it was written on the fly, but when it’s free, who cares?

So it’s possible you might be seeing Talbot’s Peak—The Novel (we also need to come up with a title) at some point in the future. The story’s only got another three-four chapters to go. Then we can decide who’s going to get stuck gathering all 50-odd chapters together and formatting them and what about a cover and all the other minutiae. Well, I wanted to learn about self-publishing. This would make an acceptable test run.

Yeah, I lied. I made a big to-do last week and now I’m reversing my position. I can do that. I’m a writer. We make stuff up for a living. All fiction is lies. For that matter, so is a lot of “reality” television. Did you know those shows have writers? There’s a gig I’d love to land. You’ll notice there are no reality shows about writers. We’re a dull bunch on camera. All the action happens on the page.

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Last Saturday I attended a meeting of the writers’ group I’ve been a quasi-member of for—geez, it must be going on at least fifteen-twenty years by now. That’s scary, mostly because a lot of the members don’t appear to have had any lasting success in all that time. I’m not even sure if some of them are even writing any more. I think Darryl (“Mr. Know It All”) and I are the only ones who’ve sold more than one novel, and I had to jump genres to get that far. Of course, I can only judge by who shows up. Those who have become successful promptly leave the group. Saturday’s meeting demonstrated why that is.

I’ve never brought a story to the group for critique and don’t ever intend to. A group of less-than-successful writers who don’t know any more than you do telling you why your story sucks is not my idea of a productive afternoon. One time I did bring a manuscript, but it was a story I’d already sold to a high-end SF magazine. I brought it as a marketing tool, to show the group what a pro editor was currently buying. To my knowledge nobody looked at it, and nobody asked me about it. That should have told me all I needed to know right there.

Anyway, I showed up Saturday mostly to brag about my latest romance release and show off my shiny new cover. But first I made a tactical error. I asked the group in general if anyone had tried self-publishing, in the hopes I could pick up some pointers. Naturally Mr. Know It All immediately answered. He called self-publishing a waste of time and effort. “Sure, you can do it, if you want to throw your work away. You’ll never make any money at it.” End of discussion. God has spoken.

When I explained my situation, that I’m in a group with four other writers and we kind of fell into a shared universe and selling works set in said universe might lead to legal entanglements, he suggested we get a lawyer and hammer out some kind of agreement. Gee, why didn’t I think of that?

No one else spoke up. If they’d ever thought about self-pubbing, they sure weren’t going to mention it after God’s proclamation. So much for encouraging others.

But the worst was yet to come. A person I’ve long considered a friend was hosting the meeting, and I wanted to announce my imminent release and show her my cover. I practically had to drag her to the computer and force her to call up the site with my cover on it. First she wanted to pick my brain about self-publishing sites (Darryl was not in the room). She almost shut down the computer before I reminded her about the cover. Now that I think about it, I don’t believe she even commented on the cover. She did comment that she hasn’t written anything in a while. She wants to write something substantial. Something with meaning. Not like what I write.

Yeah, she said that. Thanks a heap, bitch.

Why do I even bother with these people? They’re a bunch of losers and wannabes. Most are likely to end up nevergonnabes. Wonder if Darryl’s sold a book recently? Last I heard, his career was in trouble because he’s still stuck on Lovecraftian horror while the market has moved on. He’s been living on his wife’s income, but she just retired. Bet he changes his mind about self-publishing within the next couple of months.

As for me, I realized years ago I could do my career the most good if I skipped these meetings and spent the time writing instead. Which I think I’ll be doing from now on. I’ve found a group of people who encourage me and challenge me to better myself, and who actually write instead of just talking about it. If you’re thinking of joining a writers’ group, that’s the kind you want.

And if you do visit a group and one of the members is named Darryl, run for the exit. Trust me.


Savanna Kougar said...

Yeah, I learned when I took college writing courses that group criticism mostly is an exercise of ego... mostly. Occasionally, there was a gold nugget. So, I don't bother, yet listen when someone does offer a real critique. Or I ask someone I think can help. Overall, my editors have been good.

As far as, self-pubbing, hell, romance authors are jumping the ship from trad pubbing like the ship is sinking. Even if they don't make gads of money, and some do! they usually end up with more than if they'd stayed in trad...

I haven't done too bad all things considered. And I wish I had more time to spend self-pubbing other TP stories... hell, I wish I had more time for just writing.

I am finishing a ms I'll be subbing to Siren, 'cause I wrote it for one of their imprints. The idea came to me, and I ran with it... or tried to run. Mostly I've tripped and kept on writing.

Pat, I'm proud of you, love your writing, and I adore your cover for "Jessalina's Pets".

Serena Shay said...

So, so much better off not subjecting your awesome self to those types of bitter writers! I've never understood the need to be cranky and nasty to a fellow author...we're all doing our best and should support each other. In the end much more would get written and published, imo. :)

Stay the course, my friend, I would miss your fabulous works greatly!

I, too, love Jess's cover. Rawr ;)

Pat C. said...

I just ran a Google search on Mr. Know It All and it doesn't look like he's sold a novel in at least a decade. Even though were through small publishers, not the big names. Whatever income he's getting has been through short stories and royalties from anthologies/collections of previously-published work. He's the big fish in the tiny pond and I suspect he'd prefer to keep it that way.

By coincidence, I heard today from another ex-member, who gave up on writing several years ago (she was smarter than I am and ditched the group a while back). She's retired now and has decided to get back into writing. She's interested in self-pubbing because she doesn't trust Big Publishing. I'm hoping we can reconnect. She doesn't much care for romance either, but she's more diplomatic about it.

Savanna Kougar said...

Interesting. If you're an author star with a trad publisher, that's a whole other galaxy. But these days, a lot of those stars realize times have changed. For one thing, they've likely gotten gypped out of ebook royalties.

Then there's the big smackdown going on between Amazon and Hatchett... with both of them calling 'foul'.

I don't trust Big Publishing either. Less so these days than ever before after reading all the bad experiences recognized authors have told... and it's not sour grapes.

However, lots of challenges on the horizon for self-publishing too... in part because Amazon wants to act like a Big Publisher. But that's a whole other story, I don't have time to detail.

However, the more other venues like Smashwords are used, supported... and the more good small print/epublishers, the better for everyone.