Saturday, May 21, 2011

An Unestablished Author Wishes She Could "Write Like Its 1999."

I’ve been thinking more about the Katherine Kristine Rusch article on ‘Writing like it's 1999’ and checking out online royalties.   I’m feeling a little less scared.  On one hand, if I work hard at my day job and scrounge for extra work, I can probably save up enough money to hire a professional editor for my book, after I’m done the current draft.  E-books are popular, a lot of YA readers like electronic formats.   So, in that sense, maybe I can make it in the brave new world of publishing without the gatekeepers.

On the other hand, there’s the whole “marketing” thing.  I’d also have to come up with money to hire a marketer, because I HATE promoting myself.  I’ll happily tell people how great things and people I like are, but me?  That feels like LYING. After all, I’m no Naomi Novik! There are so many better writers out there---why (even post editing) should anyone read me in a world that contains Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi?   On the other hand, that’s a problem with traditional publishing too, I guess.   So I’ll have to nail down the answer to that question before I query agents, if I go the traditional route.

There’s also the problem of developing an audience.  Sure, Scalzi can gain readership by sheer force of his personality – he’s awesome!  Me, I’m a little more quirky, a little less likable, and unlikely to ‘win’ at the social networking game—I don’t want a network full of ‘friends’ I don’t know, and I really, really hate approaching strangers---even online.

So, it seems like e-publishing without a major house to back me up would be crazy—I don’t have a built-in audience like Rusch does, and, without a traditional publisher, I don’t have a way to gain a built-in audience.  So, maybe that’s where we’re headed—traditional publishing for people who seek to build an audience, and self-publishing for those who’ve already earned one?

That means, per Rusch, that new authors are going to get screwed---unless we can find a way to create and audience.  But building an audience means building a great online persona—and unless you like persona building in the first place, I’m not sure how you’d do it.

Any thoughts?


Deirdre Mundy said...

In my psychotic moments, I think the answer is to create a fictitious "author", get her email and a blog, and go from there......

Red Cardigan said...

Deirdre, I'm on the precipice of doing the same thing!

In fact, expect an announcement on my blog sometime in June (if my self-imposed self-publishing pre-publish launch schedule holds). :)

And, like you, I'm not a self-promoter. It took me forever to admit on my little blog that I was the same loudmouthed redhead who took over for Rod Dreher occasionally at his old Crunchy Con blog. Self-promotion feels "fake" to me, and I hate that feeling.


I've had an awesome team of "pre-readers" (only some of whom are related to me) who have been telling me, asking me, and even begging me to get this thing published. And write more. And publish that...and then write more.

So, with a budding intermediate children's fiction sci-fi series on my hands, I have to think of the "promotion" as promoting *that*. I owe it to these characters, most of whom waltzed into my imagination one dreary November day and demanded to be noticed. Maybe they should have waltzed into the imagination of some much more accomplished, much more talented writer, but they "chose" me--and I'm bound to do my best by them.

Now, here's the thing: I believe that my target market for this book is going to be Catholic and Christian homeschooled children. Why? They're great readers, their parents are always looking for books which are age-appropriate and whose authors they can trust, and as a member of that community myself for many years now I can relate to the frustration of being told that one's son or daughter will just love this latest intermediate "hit" series book--only to find that the characters are obnoxious and self-absorbed, the story lines gratuitous and shallow, and the lessons trite and repetitive. (And that's not even getting into the huge problem of books marketed for children as young as 9 or 10 which contain sexual references, graphic and bloody violence, foul language, drug use, and even seamier stuff--but which is a really big problem for parents.)

If I were writing to make gobs of money, this would not be a viable option--but I'm writing because it's what I do, and I'd rather sell a modest number of copies of my book to some great kids who will love the adventures and excitement and not miss all that other stuff that fills children's books these days.

So: go for it! Maybe we can promote each other. ;)

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, now I read the article you linked to, and I'm even more excited. CreateSpace is the plan I have in mind. Their books are professional and quality-looking, and you can't beat the distribution possibilities.

R. H. Russell said...

The only solution for me is to just try to be myself. But that's easier said than done, especially when it comes to the internet.