I’ve been trying to write a new blog series for weeks now, but I give up every time.
Not this time (hopefully).
Let’s get one thing clear: this is not a “down with trad-pub!” post.
As far as I’m concerned, whether you try traditional publishing or do it yourself is a personal choice.
And my choice would be to hybrid it. But, right now, indie is where I’m at.
I Write A LOT
I tend not to participate in NaNoWriMo because it clashes with my academic timetable. This year I might have been able to manage it, but the point is to write a 50,000 novel. This month I’ve been editing the second Freya Snow book, I was already half way through writing the third one, and the projects I’ve started have been novellas.
But 50,000 words in a month is an easy target for me. And I write a lot of YA and novellas, so that’s about a book a month (sometimes more). Add another month for my edits and a third for beta reads/pro editing, and I have a three month book cycle. I’ve also managed to fine-tune this, so I usually write another book while waiting for edits to come back. I am a book machine.
I have a manuscript at query right now with agents. But I’m not going to sit on my hands in the mean time when I have a whole bunch of other manuscripts waiting to go.
And, speaking of novellas…
I Write in Weird Genres and at Weird Lengths
Let’s look at my three latest projects.
The thing is, once a genre hits big, everybody gets fatigue for a while. Trying to sell anything to do with wizard schools, vampires (or replace vampires with any other paranormal creature because gods know that there were more than enough “Twilight with werewolves/fallen angels/etc.” for a few years), or dystopians right now is difficult. You had better have the best damn manuscript anyone has ever laid eyes on.
Freya Snow is not that.
Freya Snow is a fun romp through familiar ground with an Autistic character.
Is it going to change the literary world?
Is it a fun read?
People seem to think so.
I knew it was never going to be my GREATEST WORK EVER and I’m fine with that. Sometimes fun is okay.
But yeah, publishers were never going to be convinced.
So, this one is at query, but I have to admit that I’m not that hopeful.
It’s YA sci-fi and is perhaps best described as “Steven Universe meets RWBY”.
I’ve gone in the complete opposite direction from Freya Snow with this one.
Instead of going for a genre that has been incredibly popular and everyone is fatigued on, I went for one that barely exists.
Seriously, the bestsellers in the genre are all dystopians.
What was the last YA sci-fi you read that wasn’t a dystopian or Enders Game (which was written before YA was a thing, and so was just sci-fi)?
Lady Ruth Constance Chapelstone and the Clockwork Suitor
It’s a novella.
The thing is, I really like novellas. They’re a good length for me to work in. And people like reading them, because they’re a good reading length.
But print publishing has figured out the length novels should be in order to maximise return on the price of the paper.
As of me writing this, I think Tor is the only publisher with a novella imprint and agents won’t even bother taking a look at a manuscript that they could only ever possibly sell in one place.
I’ve Always Been a One-Woman Band
If I wasn’t capable of doing this myself, I wouldn’t. If I didn’t have time for marketing, etc., I wouldn’t. But I can, so I do.
I’m Writing Autistic Characters
Look, other people have talked about diversity in publishing from far more experienced backgrounds than me.
But, at the end of the day, it’s a crap-shoot.
You might find an agent or an editor looking for diverse manuscripts in your genre. Or you might struggle for them.
Publishing yourself takes that uncertainty out of the equation.
But that’s not even my main point.
My editing process usually looks like:
Editor: Shouldn’t you refer to her as having Asperger’s, not autism?
Editor: What about this bit here… This body language bit makes no sense. People don’t do that.
Me: Autistic people do.
In the end, these conversations are time consuming and do nothing to help my work. At least when I’m publishing the book, I get the final say. Imagine how much more taxing that conversation would be if that weren’t the case… Especially once you’ve factored in marketing people with their love of phrases like “brilliant but autistic”.
I’m Anxious and Autistic
Publishing is uncertainty. That is always true.
Doing it yourself?
It’s less uncertain.
You have the full control, you’re not beholden to deadlines. If anxiety gets on top of you, you can step back for a week and regroup.
You set the deadlines and you are in control of everything but whether or not people buy or like it.
It Made Sense to Me and the Data Seems to Back Me Up
If I was looking to have any other kind of creative career, I would start online.
Music, art, etc. Most creatives put their work online to build an audience before asking someone else to help with distribution/marketing.
That seemed like the best plan to me. Waiting in slush piles for someone to take a chance on me made no sense when I had a way to prove that I was capable of building an audience beforehand.
So, you know, at the end of the day, this isn’t a bad place to be and I’m doing alright.