I kinda realized recently, that I haven’t been blogging for a while. And that I’m way behind on my book reviews – I’m only half a dozen behind on Goodreads and Twitter, but probably thirty behind on Instagram, and Instagram’s my favourite.
I’m also behind on my writing. I haven’t written for so long I don’t know when it was I last wrote. Presumably it was this year sometime though…
Today I think I put these two things together.
And no, it’s not because I’m lazy.
It’s because I’m scared. And because I’ve let ‘them’ beat me.
You see, last year I submitted my manuscript to a small publisher. They promise they get back to everyone, but that it does take seven months or so. Well, it’s been twice that. Yep. Fourteen months and I haven’t heard a thing. And I never chased them up because I suddenly didn’t want to hear the words. It’s much easier to pretend they lost my email address, or their nice reply accidentally went to my spam pile.
So, it’s time to face facts. Rejection it is.
I know, I know: a rejection doesn’t mean my work is rubbish, it just means it’s not for them. Kind of like when George Kostanza says ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.
But there’s a bigger problem here, and it’s one of numbers.
Because back in the day, one or two little publishers became giants by swallowing up all the other little publishers. Then they got so big, and technology so advanced, and wages so expensive, that somehow out of the say 3,000 books a year the giant publishes, 2,920 of those are International Rights books, ie books that have already been published in other countries.
Of the remaining 80, at least half of those are going to be the big names, the contracted fourth, fifth, or thirtieth book by an established Australian author.
That leaves 40 books a year that could be published by nobody writers like me. Three and a third books a month for each of half a dozen big publishers. That used to be a dozens and dozens of little publishers publishing a book every month or two.
So where does that leave us nobodies? Self-publishing of course. And therein lies the problem. Self-publishing is a lot of work. The process needs to be learnt. Marketing needs to happen. Numbers need to be studied. Websites need to be navigated and the internet fought with and tamed (if your connection is anything like mine). And for all that work you’re up against giants, with giant budgets to match.
And if you’re lucky, tax accounting needs to be understood.
Oh and don’t forget to write the sequel.
Don’t believe me? Just plug ‘how to self publish’ into a search engine and try and figure out how to do it in an afternoon! (If you can, please tell me about it in the comments.)
I can’t help but wonder if Stephen King, or Barbara Cartland, or Dan Brown, or Jackie French had to do it all themselves, would their work be as prolific?
Or (more likely, as they were obviously energetic and smart) would they have started up their own publishing company given the skills they learnt in the process of these specializations?
The authors of the past were successful when times were different, and competition between publishers was more of a thing. Imagine a world without their works.
So what works are we losing now? At least I live in the fortunate ‘middle class’ strata – what of people with even less chance, less exposure, less money, less access to technology, less patience with learning?
So I’d like to say thank you to authors like Hugh Howey and to Joseph Malik and Amanda Hocking and Rob Dircks and I don’t know how many others for doing what they have done. Whether it’s starting their own publishing company (is that going full circle or what!) or rejecting a contract and holding out for a nobler offer.
You give me hope. Meaningful, useable, hope.