Thursday, September 23, 2010

Publish or Perish

So, I've finished my new novel. It's weird and definitely has a specific slant to it. It's not a mystery but it's about the mystery writing world. The criticisms that can be laid at its door are exactly its strengths (in that although it is niche--most definitely--it will really appeal to that niche). I have not submitted it to Poisoned Pen for consideration because (a) it's not a mystery;  (b) it was a book I had to write; and (c) it has not gone through their vetting process, which is mandatory [as to why I didn't submit it to vetting process see (a) and (b)]. I would be shocked to the point of perpetual lock-jaw if they liked it. It's not their sort of book, which is not a condemnation of them, so much as a condemnation of my imagination. But not of them.

I have it out to an agent. If she passes on it, I have a couple of other agents I have in mind. But seriously, it's going to be a bitch to market, and I can see people reading it, liking it, and then saying, no, it's not for me. I get that. I have other books to write, so I'm not going to sweat this one out for months and months. If all these agents pass on it, then I will self-publish. Which, yes, is a dirty word, although it's becoming increasingly less dirty as the publishing business starts careening into bankruptcy.

Barnes and Noble has put itself up for sale, and while there's a proxy fight that will probably delay that sale, the fact that it's putting itself up for sale speaks "volumes". Take a look at the inventory levels at your local book chain. Have you noticed that the books that are in high demand (reference books, Spanish for Dummies stuff) are now in the front of the store, and the musty and out of the way corners are now reserved for fiction? Notice how all the "things" have been moved to the front of the store. Gadgets, pens, notebooks, cards, all these things that aren't books but have a whopping profit margin are now in the front of the store. The inventory is non-existent as the staff moves the bookshelves farther and farther impart to give the impression that the stores are full of books, but they are not.

This is the publishing business imploding in front of your very eyes. So imagine what this is doing to the already decimated mid-list author. And the only way authors can fight back from being dumped by their publishers is to self-publish. It's the ONLY way for them to survive. These are decent authors with a dedicated following who want to read them. Of course, their readership isn't in the millions but probably tens of thousands or even one thousand, but they STILL HAVE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO READ THEM. They just don't have publishers who want to publish them.

Enter the eBook and the eReaders  and ability to be your own publisher. And people are buying. Spend a week reading the posts from participants on DorothyL and every week there's a thread on where's so and so, I loved his books or her books. Well, I can tell you, nine times out of ten they were dropped by their publisher. But now authors have the ability to publish an eBook or even a trade paperback from (ISBN number and everything), and a few of them are saying, yes, I'm going that route.

I might have to go that route. I don't want to, but I spent nine months working on this book. It's fun and a great read, and if you're in the demographic I'm targeting, I guarantee you'll love it. But that doesn't mean that a publisher wants to publish it or that it's even worth their worthwhile financially to publish it. I understand that. But there's nothing stopping me because I've already put in the time that I always put in. It's lemonade out of lemons time.

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