Thursday, November 29, 2012

At the Crossroads

Anyone who has been published by a traditional publishing house may feel ambivalent about leaving that world and moving into the self-publishing world. We think we're giving up a lot of commercial support, along with the prestige of having a publisher invest their money in our work. But the world of the writer is pretty confused right now, and it's hard to see the future.

I've had six novels and one nonfiction book published by traditional publishers as well as numerous articles and short stories, but I've also written some books that no one is interested in despite agents' best efforts. So what do I do with them? In past decades the writer would have put them back on the shelf (and it was indeed a shelf, long before computers) and moved on to the next writing project. But today we can do something about all those manuscripts languishing unread. We can send them out into the world on our own. We can be our own publishers. We don't have to get permission or approval from anyone else. This may not be a good thing (every writer has been spared embarrassment by a careful editor) but it is now the reality.

On Saturday afternoon, December 1, I'm going to facilitate an afternoon discussion about self-publishing with six writers, some of whom have been wildly successful. Many writers are happy with the attention of a small publisher who promises to sell two thousand copies. How would you feel about a writer who sells that many books in a month on her own? I'm going to find out on Saturday.

This is also an unplanned opportunity for me to announce that I too have taken the plunge. On this past weekend I posted my sixth Joe Silva as an eBook, a book that I never expected to do anything with when I began writing a mystery series set in India. I've published two books featuring Anita Ray, but I haven't forgotten Joe.

The sixth Joe Silva was hard to put aside because I finally take Joe (and Gwen) to visit his family. During a family reunion his ailing and aged father has put together, Joe comes face to face with an unrecognized crime from his younger days, and a new crime triggered by that confrontation.

I've learned how to post the mss, how to get a good cover (buy it from a good designer), and now I'm going to learn how to promote and sell the book.

And yes, I'm planning on taking notes and will share them.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Holiday Rest

This is the time of year when all of us are supposed to be stretched to the max, worn to a frazzle, fried, tired to a farethewell. You can add your favorite cliche here because being tired out during the holiday season is itself a cliche. As a writer I work hard to avoid cliches, and I'm working hard to avoid this one.

I sent off a mss to an editor a couple of weeks ago, and now all I can do is wait. All writers go through this, and hard as it is, it is also a great opportunity. This is the time when we are free to daydream all the time, when we begin work on our next project, long or short, fiction or nonfiction. For me that project is another novel but I'm also using the rest period to participate in a holiday art exhibit with the Rocky Neck Art Colony. This is such a great change of pace for me that I have come to treasure the time when I can look at the topics that interest me--India, people, streetscapes--with an entirely different perspective.

The Winter Show 2012 will also include a number of opportunities for artists and others to get together and talk about their work, among many topics, and enjoy the season. The show is being held at the Cultural Center on Wonson Street, Gloucester. If you're in the area, drop by and let all those cliches about the holiday season fade away.