The promised publishing post

How’s THAT for alliteration, my droogies?

So let’s start with a little bit about having a dream. I conceived of my fantasy novel series in 1982. I submitted it to Tor publishing in 1983. I was told by them in 1984 that it sucked – they actually used the word in the rejection letter – and that I’d never make it as a writer.

They were right that it sucked. Nothing will screw up your writing worse than a class in college on writing. I needed to relearn everything and resubmit.

In 2001 I released the stories online as a way to market my first company. In 2002 I had 11,000 fans and 2,000 clients.

In 2010 Ann Crispin at Dragon Con, as a part of a ‘Market your novel’ class, told me that me trying to publish my novels was a waste of time. Women weren’t going to like them. She’d never read the novels, she’d just heard my description. In fairness, she was pretty high on pain killers at the time.

I did a final rewrite of the novels, re-released them, and in 2011 was in the top 80 books on Amazon for the class of book it is. In 2012 I was picked up by a publisher. I was VERY excited.

The publisher was small and did nothing for me. Her editor didn’t do more than run Word spell-check, and then do a search for the word ‘that’ and deleted it wherever she found it. I sold exactly 32 books in the next year. She wouldn’t do ANYTHING to promote her authors that wasn’t free. She also managed to give herself brain damage in a riding accident during this time.

This month I dropped from her label for non-payment. She sent me the only royalty check I ever received from her: $32

The book covers for the first three books cost me $15,000. I DID go with a world-renowned artist who rarely does book covers anymore.

So I’ve taken publishing back. I go through CreateSpace and Kindle self-publishing. I started one campaign for $2,800 and I’m probably picking up another for a few more. Put together the website over the last couple days and, while it still needs a little work, I’m happy with it. I also need to get a forum and a call-to-action with it, but I’m more than capable of that. Between being a nuclear technician and moving on to sales, and the current programming gig, I was in marketing for a year. If you ever heard the tagline, “I went to such-and-such a college, and now my boss works for ME!”, I created that.

If you’ve ever heard a weekend radio show where the hosts were both a realtor and a handy-man of some kind, I came up with THAT format, too. By the way – that format can make a radio-station $250,000/yr with 40 minutes of weekend air time.

Self-publishing, even when you’re doing well, garners a lot less respect than being picked up by a publisher, even one that does nothing for you. It used to be you got an agent, your agent got you a publisher, your publisher got you a publicist, you went to town. You had a better chance of hitting the Lotto, but there you went. You tried and tried until you found someone who could get excited about your work.

Right now, like most movies, most books are consigned. Publishers don’t take a lot of risks so they look for a popular topic, then who has it, then go in that direction. Ann Crispin, for example, got a monster deal from Disney when they went to her and asked her to write a prequel to Pirates of the Caribbean. She by her own admission didn’t know anything about the topic, and people tended to not like the book. When it came out, most of her recommendations from Amazon were from fans who never read it. POTC fans were really put off by it.

So instead, you write your passion, you publish yourself, you make it on your own and find the right person to get in on it. I did all of the steps right, but I’d never gotten that far with a publisher before and chose the wrong one. I’ll get back, and I’ll do better next time. It’s a thing, like anything else. Fear failure and you’re done before you start.

We’ll see how this goes. It’s a rainy day and I was going to clear trees, but I think I’ll go buy work out clothes and finally join the gym I wanted to join last week.

Stay tuned, my loyal droogies!

SD

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