Saturday, April 23, 2011

Just the facts ma'am...

There seems to be a new trend on blogs, with bloggers wanting to warn us not to get our hopes up - over at Nathan Bransford's we have this post on the Fate Factor. Publishing is a strange beast that is constantly at pains to remind us it is a business which then acts like no other business we know. The success of a book is not necessarily linked to the hard work pre and post publication, promotional effort or creative talent behind it. Fate/luck/call-it-what-you-will has its part to play. Commenters on the post thanked Mr Bransford for calling their attention to this and reminding them that it was better to acknowledge what they couldn't control and focus on what they could. I want the happy drug they are on. I couldn't get past the idea that working my arse off, being nice in the face of difficulties and hypocritical rudeness and writing some very cool sentences might get me nowhere. I acknowledge the truth of what he says but I'm not sure how to respond. Sure I probably should give more attention to the thing I can control: the quality of my writing. But I am also toying with the idea of being more lazy and less accommodating and seeing how I get on :) (Don't worry folks I am not really intending to change my work ethic or my personality - I'm just a bit bewildered about how to find the positive spin on this ).

Maureen Crisp as always has smart stuff on her blog and her latest post is no exception. The world of publishing is in a phase of rapid evolution and Ms Crisp has some fantastic advice on how writers might best prepare themselves for what's ahead. If you aren't reading her blog regularly than you may be killed off in the next meteor shower/ice age - get wise folks. One particular link caught my eye - a blog post on what a writer can do in the face of persistant positive rejection: when your work is good but doesn't tick the money making box in their opinion. My eyes lit up - this has happened to me. The link is a good one. But I am hesitating over the mathematical logic of this. Writers are notoriously impatient (okay maybe thats just me). In the past they had no choice but to keep resubmitting their work. If rejections were positive then you made less or no changes to the ms before it went out again. It might take 40, it might take 100 goes but you kept trying until all traditional publishing avenues were exhausted or you were accepted. Now we assume a handful of positive rejections are a sign that no publisher wants our work? Do we give up too early because there is now an alternative route? Is it true that publishers are less likely to publish things they would have accepted twenty years ago? I studied statistics at University. I know how malleable and fickle they are. The idea of e-books and self-publishing are so seductive because we love the idea of controlling our own destiny. Fate? Pah! Take that!! I have a book I want to publish as an e-book for a number of good reasons, but I am not going to rush into this option for my other work just yet.


TK Roxborogh said...

I'm sick of the waiting too, Melinda. I've never had to wait more than a couple of months (and I've been getting published at least one a year every year since 1995) but this US stuff is doing my head in.

I no longer write for the love of it (not much). I write for the money now and I want to earn enough so that I can retire from teaching. This last financial year has been the lowest in year for me - a 50% drop in income. A lot of it is down to the face that I'm unavailable most of the time because I teach during the times people want me.

My agent's blog post on 'There's a dead guy in the room' talked about why no news is just that - no news. And he talked about waiting and why the waiting was part of the process. He got some interesting responses to his post.

Old Kitty said...

I've been only around blogworld for over a year and the amount of writerly bloggers who went their own way and e-published or published with a small independent book publishers are quite significant. It's amazing! I would say though that two whom I follow who have gone these routes are quite successful (one uses all facets of the social media very effectively, the other is very quiet with her blog but she's doing extremely well). I must admit, I read their novels and thoroughly enjoyed the quiet blogger;s one most. The other wasn't my cup of tea - actually I didn't like it much and sort of thought "well that's why it got rejected by agents etc." But it's out there to buy on amazon and this writer's social networking has paid off with many glowing 5 star reviews mainly from followers.

I don't know. All these ways to be publish all seem to face the same outcome, ie. success - financially or otherwise - being not guaranteed.

But what these writers have shown me is that they all work very very hard, do so much, apply here, submit there, go on tours, conferences etc, social network like crazy, work, work, work to get where they are. And even if they nab an agent and/or get themselves e-published or published by an independent publisher the work still goes on. Never ending! Phew!

So I guess if you have super duper persistence, patience and alot of sweat you will and can break the cycle! It's when and how is anyone's guess.

To all you serious writers, I truly salute you! Happy Easter!
Take care