Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the State of the Writer

Friday was somewhat less than a good day. I think I basically hit my stress limit in terms of all the projects that I've been working on, and my brain decided to take a little vacation. My apologies for those who have been awaiting any news from me. I know there were many who were holding their breath. :)

In any case, my most recent question is if I should try to publish Kingsley indie style or traditional style. Going indie with Kingsley means further investment out of my own pocket, but it offers rewards quicker. Traditional means waiting a year or two to see if the publishers will want to pick it up, which will tax my patience, but it would reach a broader market and require less financial backing on my part.

Which side do you guys come down on? I know some of you have already weighed in, but feel free to give your opinions. See you around!


  1. I vote for at least trying to get an agent and publisher. I think hitting the broader market makes it worth the wait. Also, steampunk is selling quite well right now, so you have a manuscript that is fairly marketable to the traditional publishers.

    Perhaps set a "deadline" of sorts that if you've received x rejections from agents/editors, then it's time to go indie.

  2. I don't think it's fair to characterize going indie as going for the short term gain while going traditional is a more responsible, long-term thinking option. You have to look at where the industry is heading and where it's going to be in five years; clearly, print is in a major decline while ebooks are on the rise.

    What I really think you ought to do is look at where you want to go long-term with your career, and ask: what can a publisher/agent do for me that I can't do myself? Steampunk is kind of hot right now, so it might be good to take Kingsley to a publisher, but a lot agencies are turning to questionable practices as the shift away from print cuts into their bottom line. Dean Wesley Smith advises new writers to hold off for two years before going after an agent, and that strikes me as wise advice.

    Also, keep in mind that the two paths aren't mutually exclusive. If you have some success as an indie, you can leverage that to get a much better deal with a trad publisher than you could ever hope to get as a new writer coming fresh out of the gate. But if you only have one or two titles and can't put out a good number of books consistently each year, it's going to be really tough to make it as an indie.

    Anyhow, those are my thoughts. Good luck!

  3. So, if Joe gets to chime in, I do, right?

    1. Your wife is pretty sharp. Probably do whatever she says and ignore us.

    2. There are plenty of reputable agents; just don't sub to the bad ones (check http://pred-ed.com/pubagent.htm for research). Jabberwocky's still currently open to subs. Also, you can sub directly to publishers -- there's quite a lot of publishers in SF/F who accept unsolicited mss (TOR, DAW, ROC, PYR, Angry Robot...I don't know about all of them, but TOR puts out their books as e-books as well)

    3. Something Joe's really good at is networking and self-promotion. Okay, all authors need that, but to get an indie book going, it's all on your shoulders. You're either going to have to have the patience to sub and try to forget about it, or the patience to daily build up online presence and point people towards the book, patient to wait for sales...so patience is probably on the table either way.

    Umm...and good luck! Hope your brain enjoys its break. :)

  4. It's not just a matter of reputable vs. irreputable agents; it's a matter of the industry changing in such a way as to make agents unnecessary, and technology changing the game so completely that everything is now a grey area. In my research, I've read several stories by 20 and 30 year professional writers of reputable agencies adopting practices that bring up serious conflict of interest issues and screw over writers. Again, I think you should ask yourself: "what can an agent do for me that I can't do for myself?"--and make sure that's "can't do for myself," not "don't want to do for myself," because it's your career and only you can take responsibility for it. After figuring all that out, if you still feel that it's worth swimming in a pool full of sharks in a feeding frenzy to find that one guy who won't screw you, best of luck, but personally I think it's better to wait until things settle down.