Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Self-publishing: but dude, I just wanna be a writer

A lot of fuss at the moment about self-publishing, and whether it's the way of the future, when we've got big-name authors turning down six-figure contracts and people without a platform selling zillions of copies per month of their self-pubbed books.

Yay and good luck to those people. I'll buy a self-pubbed book to read if I like the look of it. No prejudice here.

But I don't want to self-publish, and here's why.

The main advantage of SP that's being touted seems to be money. As in, the author makes more of it per book, because they're getting the whole (or nearly all of) cover price, not just a small royalty. So why let a publisher profit from your work, when you can take all the money yourself?

See, thing is, that's like saying to me, "Wow, Erica, you could make much more money as a lawyer than you ever will from your books. Why don't you go work for a law firm?"

And I could, y'know. My uni (college) degree is law. I'm admitted to the bar. I could go work for Local Law Firm, Inc. doing divorces and traffic violations, and I can tell you right now, I'd make more on a junior lawyer's salary than I'm getting right this moment writing for a NY publisher.

But I want to be a writer. I don't want to be a lawyer.

Nor do I want to be a copy editor, a cover artist, a back cover copy cruncher, a printer, an e-book layout designer, a publicist, a distributor, a web marketer or a sales guru.

I want to be a writer. Every day, I get up, I exercise, I shop for food, and then I spend the rest of the day writing and plotting and revising and crunching revisions.

It's my dream job. And I'm not giving it up to spend my working day in hell. No matter how much the devil pays.

Sure, I do promo. Everyone does promo. But for me, it's an opportunity. It's not an imperative. I have a publisher's sales and publicity force to help me, and those people are doing stuff for authors, even if sometimes it looks like they aren't. If I didn't have them, I'd have to spend my writing time doing what they do. Ditto on cover artists, editors, layout people and so forth.

Look at interviews with the latest self-pubbed bestsellers, and see what they do all day. When do they write? Never, or as near to never as makes no difference. Sound like fun? Uh. No.

So forgive me if job satisfaction is more important to me than money. I'm weird like that. I've worked enough jobs I didn't like to know how miserable it makes me. I'd much rather use my publisher to help me reach readers, and spend my time doing what I love. Even if it means I only get a small percentage of cover price.

And hey. If that means I'm missing the chance to sell a squillion copies of my latest for $2.99 and become rich and famous? Well, shit. I guess that boat in the Bahamas will just have to wait a while. Like I'd have the time to sail it if I was self-pubbed anyway.

Seriously, people. It's not all about the money. So sue me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Distance makes the plot grow snappier

So I was on the phone to my CP yesterday, and she was telling me about her WIP. She'd been brainstorming new ideas for like a hundred hours, but she gave me the fifteen-minute condensed version, with only the ideas she'd decided to keep. She got to the end of what she'd done, and said, "Yeah. And now I don't know what should happen next."

Pause. "Well, it's obvious, isn't it?"say I.

My CP: "No."

Me: "C'mon. You've set everything up perfectly. It has to be {insert plot here}."

Stunned silence. "Damn. Why didn't I think of that?"

Does this happen to you? Me, all the time. I work on an idea so much that I get too close, and I can't see the big picture any more. I get confused by all the little details, and the overall structure gets obscured. MY CP gave me the Reader's Digest version, and I was able to jump on the key points, where all she could see was mess. Cool, huh?

So leave it for a while. Work on something else. Get some distance, and then go back to basics.

Yesterday, in fact, this worked for me too (yeah, it was a busy day: save the world, cook up WIP, rescue CP's sanity, bake cookies). I was designing a new trilogy-based series. I had the backstory and characters all worked out, and knew kinda what happened in book 1. Then I spent an hour all confused about what should happen at the end of book 2.

Well, duh. Book 2 is like a 2nd act climax. The bad guys have to succeed, and the hero gets smacked down. Whatever your hero wanted at the beginning? It just got taken away. Big time. Along with everything else they've decided they wanted along the way. And more than that -- the very idea of what's good and bad in the book should get turned on its head. What they're striving for looks hopeless.

"Luke, I am your father. Oh, and I just cut your arm off. And guess what that means? The Dark Side of the Force is stronger than you, you puny little weed. You'll NEVER win."

So when I get stuck, I go back to first principles: what does the MC want? What do the bad guys want that's opposed to the MC's goal? And what could they do to make it as hard as possible for the MC? What's the worst thing that could happen to the MC, not just at a specific plot point, but in the big scheme of the story?

How the hell is the MC going to fix the mess you've made?

Answer? Who cares!! If *you're* asking that question ,you can bet the reader will be too. And that's exactly what you want.

Anyway. Later. Gotta fix book 3 now :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Back from the dead

Me, that is. No zombies or anything. But I've finished my BLOOD CURSED edits (yay!) and sent them to my editor. Yippee! Back to normality.

Which means another MS to revise and another 2 to outline {rubs hands together}. Fun times!

I've also caught up (I think) on my internettage. I should have replied to everyone's emails now! So if you're still waiting on a reply or an interview or a giveaway from me, drop me a swift reminder, please :)