Thursday, August 2, 2012


Hello my minions!

This is my premier blog post. I hope that I am able to continue with this endeavor and start to build an audience for my mental musings and literary scribbles. That said...I'm probably going to anger some people with this one. My friend list count will plummet!

After spending the last two years tinkering around in the self-publishing world, I have come to the following conclusions:

  • I have not written anything substantial in the past two years. 
  • Grammar is a thing of the past. Feel free to ignore it and spread the ignorance. (The rules will eventually change to accommodate you, anyway.)
  • The market will soon be flooded with horrible books. (If it hasn't already, I honestly don't have the time to go panning for gold in that river.)
  • Cover art and a good opening hook are way more important than a solid story. (After all, it just needs to be good enough that they buy it right? You don't need a fan base. Just change your pen name for the next book you write.)
  • It is better to write a book that will be popular for a year rather than a book that will last generations. So, feel free to use today's "hot topics" and catch phrases. I'm sure people twenty years from now will understand what you mean.
  • The internet is full of "experts" who will happily tell you what you are doing wrong. (It will far out-weigh what you are doing right, I'm sure.)
You're still here? Well, you probably fit into two of three possible categories then. The first being those people who agree with what I said, and the second being those people who just came here because we're related...thanks, Pix. (The third, of course, are the people who I'm talking about...and they probably didn't read past the fourth point.)

As I think about the direction in which I was being pushed to make my book more marketable, I realize that some of my favorite books would never make it in the self-publishing world. I am a huge fan of Robert Asprin's "Myth Adventures" (the torch has been handed off to Jody Lynn Nye, now, if you are curious. RIP Robert, you are missed). While they were never as successful as they could have been, I enjoyed every one of them completely and totally. So...I'm the freak, right? I mean, you could never accuse me of being "trendy" or "popular"...(of which I am eternally grateful, thank you, very much). If Mr. Asprin had been rejected and those books were never published, it would have greatly impacted my life. The reason I started writing was because of Myth Adventures. After I read all the Myth books my brother (and his friend Bill Fisher) had, I asked him for something similar (he read a lot more than I did). Guess what! There weren't any. Sure, there were other good books, but nothing like the Myth books. So, I started writing my own...and the rest, as they say,, well, I hope it isn't history yet. I haven't even published anything.

Harry Potter was rejected by every publishing house JK Rowling sent it to. Why? Probably because it didn't fit their "market mould". Just imagine the world without Harry Potter for a moment. It almost happened. If Bloomsbury hadn't decided to give it a shot, the whole thing could have been lost to The Great Circular Bin In The Corner Of The Room.What a tragedy that would have been...don't you agree?

Another huge influence on my style and writing development was Douglas Adams. I think most people by now know Mr. Adams' work. I think it is safe to say that his voice and style are unique to the publishing world. Only a certain number of people will "get it". (That number will probably decrease with devolution of mankind...thank you, Devo...Duty Now!) Just to drive that home...The Harry Potter series has sold about 450 million copies. Let's assume each individual book sold an equal share, just to be fair...which means the first book sold 64 million copies and has been on the market for 15 years. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was published in 1979, has been on the market for 33 years, and has sold only 14 million copies.

To be honest, though, Adams and Asprin had more impact on me than Rowling did. Okay, maybe it was because I didn't get to read Rowling until I was an adult (well set in my ways). But still, I've been affected by other authors, too. (Dean Koontz, Stephen R. Donaldson, Roger Zelazny, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and F. Paul Wilson just to name a few.) Were any of these wild successes? Not really. Not to Potter levels, anyway. Would they have succeeded in the self-publishing world? Hard to say.

I guess what it boils down to is my fifth point above. (Go ahead and go look, I'll wait...ready? Okay.) I don't write books in an attempt to become famous or rich. I write books because...1.) I enjoy writing books and 2.) I have the hopes that some day...somewhere...someone will enjoy one of them as much as I enjoyed Mr. Asprin's books (and those other books, too, of course...)

If I had the choice of choosing between having one major breakthrough success that died out after a couple years (ie Twilight) or a small faithful audience of people who thoroughly enjoy what I write (Xanth?)...yeah, I'd pick the latter. (For those that fall into point #2 above...Lat-ter Adjective: 1. Situated or occurring nearer to the end of something than to the beginning) Self-publishing will probably never give me either one of those, though. That is why I am abandoning it as a viable option.

What options do I have left? Traditional publishing, of course! Oh yeah, I forgot...I don't write books that fit into their commercial market view. Damn.

1 comment:

  1. I'm kind of torn on the world of self publishing. On the one hand, you are right - a lot of people self publish a lot of garbage, and pollute the market at $.99. Too many people see the success of people like Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath and think "Hey, I can do that!" They start writing, and writing, and keep on writing until the mere thought of editing is a speck on the horizon, and then they spam Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, and so on, thinking (as I think it was the venerable Mr. Konrath stated) that what matters is volume. They take no time to hone their craft, no time to revise what they've written, they just spamspamspamspamnownownow.

    However, I think you may be looking at a kind of false dichotomy. Your books (at least the one I've read) have obvious care put into them, and while you may or may not have hit your stride yet as a writer, you definitely stand above the talentless hacks who think they have what it takes to be the next big author. In any case, you almost paint it in terms of "Huge Success" and "Pitiful Failure," where if you don't sell billions of copies online you might as well resort to traditional publishing because they'll scare the editing into you. Or I may be misinterpreting your point. I tend to do that.

    All I know is I have this first draft I'm still kind of figuring out what to do with, and I'm not gonna lie - I've considered the self-publishing route through Kindle or Smashwords, among other approaches. Hell, something to consider is that if you do put a book out there, and it gains a following, you can then take it to a big publishing house and say "Here's my manuscript and propsal. Oh, and by the way, the book has already sold X copies online without much advertising, so I bet it will sell well with some Big Publishing Muscle behind it." If you're worried about polluting your brand, you could publish one or two under a pen name or something. I just am leery of completely discounting an entire distribution method based on the actions of a few - if that were the case, no one would ever use X-Box Live again for fear of the foul-mouthed fourteen-year-olds.