That's how I view the upheaval taking place in the publishing world: the best and the worst of times. The worst--or scariest--part for me is trying to find my audience as an indie-published author, trying to make a successful go of it without the backing of an established publishing house. While my first two novels were published by a publishing house, next to nothing was put into promoting my novels. So, honestly, not a lot has changed in that regard, except that I've learned that an author has to do the lion's share of promoting her work no matter who publishes her books. Now that it's all on my shoulders, I want--need--to make the best choices from the get-go. Which social media should I concentrate on, and which can I ignore (because we can't realistically and adequately do them all)? How do I get word of mouth working in my favor? Where will my very limited dollars most advantageously be spent? The best part, though, is that with so many well-known authors going independent, the stigma of self-publishing is rapidly dying.
What about you? What's the best and worst for you regarding the enormous changes in the industry?
The best for me is the independence. Even the modest pressure put on me to write more novels per year didn't feel good. "Can you write more than one novel a year?" they asked. "No." In fact, I wanted to take longer with my books to do a better job, to write a more significant story, one that--could it be?--engaged people emotionally. The worst part for me is the independence, mostly for the reasons you stated but also because I loved the people at my publishing houses. Being independent is a little lonely at times.
The Hinge of Your History: The Phases of Faith ), in spite of the fact that it was endorsed by Philip Yancey, my agent Janet Grant could not find a commercial home for it. So we agreed that I could self-publish it; and in spite of the fact that the sales are supported mainly by my speaking engagements (people buy it like hotcakes when I speak on the subject), it has done well.
On the other hand, Howard/Simon&Schuster is publishing my new co-written nonfiction in a couple of months, Discovering the City of Sodom. Very controversial book. And my agent has proposals for two new novels in the hands of editors.
So why do I feel in a half-world? Yet another book, which I consider the best book I've ever written, can't find a commercial home. This book is the book, I believe, I was born to write. And of course there's no guarantee (in fact the odds are against it) that either of the books being read by editors will be published.
I know that many of our Novel Matters readers are aspiring to be published. I just want you to know that I truly feel your pain and disappointment when a project into which you have put heart and soul can't get a wider audience. I do understand why Sharon and Patti have decided to go the route of self-publishing. It's truly a confusing time; one in which my only secure guide is prayer.
What will I do with the story once it's written? I'm not sure, but I do feel that whatever happens, it will be fine. Really.
Did someone drop a pill in my coffee?
How does a writer (or anyone for that matter) make the best choices? Patience is a huge factor. It's easy to be in a hurry when it comes to wanting our work in the marketplace being hungrily consumed by happy readers (we hope), but rushing leads to mistakes--sometimes big ones--and mistakes mean precious time taken up repairing and then making up for lost time. I think I rushed a manuscript last year because I felt I "should" have been finished by now--you know that feeling?--and that ended up costing me in the long run. My Carpe Annum in 2013 is trusting myself more and asking myself, "Am I enjoying this? Do I feel I'm being led, or pushed?" My husband is brilliant, and he tells me, "God leads. If you're feeling pushed from behind you need to rethink what you're doing." I won't be pushed from behind this year. I'm going to lean into my instinct, my moxie, my path. Where will it take me? That's the other thing. I've given up on caring where I end up. I'm here for the ride.