THE NOT SO SHORT…CUTS
by Jordan Summers
It used to be that you could give a new writer advice on the publishing industry and be pretty certain that what you were telling them was the truth to the best of your knowledge. There were ‘sure’ paths to take (ie write the best book you can, get it critiqued, start the next book, then submit to an agent and keep your fingers crossed). These days not so much.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably noticed the explosion or implosion happening in the publishing industry. Even those of us who’ve been in the rodeo for a while, don’t exactly know how to ride this particular critter. There are clauses popping up in contracts that would curl anyone’s hair. So what’s a writer to do?
I’ve been giving this particular question a LOT of thought. See I started out selling books to an online e-publisher, then moved to NewYork publishing via several contest wins. I’ve had three separate agents–one of which left the business–and I have the scars to prove it. The scent of desperation coming out of New York right now is absolutely cloying. I find myself in a position that I hadn’t anticipated. (I’m sure a lot of writers do.) I have a release, Blood Lite 2 coming out in September 2011 (shameless plug), but I’m officially out of contract. What does that mean? I haven’t sold a new book yet.
Being out of contract is not unusual in publishing. In fact, it happens to most writers at some point in their careers. What’s different now is that for the first time I’m not sure exactly what to do. Due to the current publishing climate, I’m not in a particular hurry to jump back into the fray. This does not mean that I’ve stopped writing. On the contrary, I seem to be in squirrel mode. By that I mean I’m writing and stockpiling manuscripts. I have one novella, one contemporary, and a fantasy YA finished. I’ve also just started work on an urban fantasy romance. Hope to have a rough draft done in August. I plan to follow that book up with a straight urban fantasy. Once I’m done, I think I’ll be in a good position to test the waters again…if I want to.
These days authors have a choice when it comes to publishing and the line in the sand continues to grow. There are some authors who believe that N.Y. publishing is antiquated and should be done away with. Most of these authors come from a self-publishing/indie background. There’s nothing wrong with indie publishing. I’ve been slowly putting my backlist up with a few original pieces tossed in for giggles. The other side of the fence is lined with authors from a traditionally published background. They’ve written their books, got an agent, and sold their work to N.Y. Both sides have strong opinions about the right way to publish. (HINT: There isn’t one.)
The thing is I think in order to survive in today’s publishing climate an author must figure out how to do both. Right now there’s a lot of enthusiasm coming from indie authors, especially the ones making decent money. For every one of those authors, there are thousands of othersmaking very little–much like in the traditional publishing model. As excited as I am about the indie opportunities, I know just like when the first wave of ebooks hit in 2000/2001, it will not last. That’s why these days it’s more important than ever to diversify. I cannot stress this last point enough. Every writer has to think about the long game. Short-sidedness is inexcusable, especially with all the free information floating out there.
Indie publishing has been touted as a short cut to publishing. Although most aspiring writers won’t want to hear this, indie publishing is not a short cut. You still have to spend hours and hours working on your craft. By the way, this never ends. You still have to write hundreds of thousands of words. You still have to know how to tell a good story. You still have to have your work critiqued by someone other than your mom. (Unless your mom is like my mom and will tell you exactly what’s wrong with your book.) Just because you can publish a book in a matter of hours these days, doesn’t mean that you should. Indie publishing is always an option, but it should never be your ONLY option.
Jordan Summers has eighteen published books to her credit. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Novelist Inc., Romance Writers of America, and the Published Author’s Network. Her next release, BLOOD LITE 2 comes out Sept. 2011. You can reach Jordan through her website: www.jordansummers.com.