Last week's post ended with the questions I'd posed to myself that would determine the route to travel toward publication, knowing full well whatever the answers were, I'd be giving up something.
The answers didn't come easily. My old goals had become wound up with everyone else's, and I'd adopted the old "acceptable" methods as my personal bench-mark without asking myself why.
The truth was, I didn't know what I wanted for myself. I was incapable of making a decision, and any decision seemed rash. Not a comforting place to be. I did the only thing I could, my goal became to watch, as carefully as possible, and find out as much as I could. Just so I wouldn't dither, I set a time limit of five months. On September first I would take what I'd learned and make a decision based on the information I would discover along the way.
In the meantime, Sister in Crime sent an investigating team to Amazon, Google, Apple, Smashwords and others. More changes surfaced in the industry, more people voiced their opinions, and J.A. Konrath started looking more and more sensible.
Needing something to do (inactivity makes me crazy), I continued to work on my third novel and proceeded with the steps I would need to take to connect with my audience once I was published--none of which committed me to any particular path. The steps would have to be done, regardless of what I chose, and could be abandoned easily if I decided to ditch the whole writer thing and become a lounge singer (kidding, here. I can't sing).
By the time the Sisters in Crime summit report was available in mid August, I'd formed some solid opinions. The report confirmed that I wasn't imagining the changing state of the traditional publishing industry or the importance of e-publishing. E-publishing was here to stay, and it was not just something that was "going on," it was (and continues to be) a revolution—simultaneously rallying enthusiastic support from some while scaring the living daylights out of others.
Something else became very clear: I wanted to be part of the revolution.
Despite the warnings from experienced authors that this was not a wise path for the yet-unpublished, I yearned to embrace it. I was told, as a fiction writer, I didn't know my audience, and probably only seasoned publishing professionals could figure it out.
Well, that statement had been proven wrong on so many occasions it was hardly worth the energy to argue the obvious (note: JK Rowling being told her book would never sell, Tony Hillerman being told he shouldn't write about Indians, etc. etc. leap to mind). Besides, I found out I have a very clear notion of my audience. I'd been reaching them—all over the world—through my blog, Things I Learned From My Horse.
The empowerment of career control lost none of it's appeal on me, either, despite being told I was going to have to work hard at self-promoting. Hey, I'd have to do that anyway, even as a lounge singer or an author for a traditional publishing company.
The decision made itself. I would self publish my work as e-books. I would become an Independent Author. Success or failure would rest in my hands. I could deal with that.
My goal, clear at last, was to get my books into the hands of readers and to make a living wage.
The path is equally clear. Make my books the very best they can be by seeking and obtaining the help I need from people I have confidence in. Market and promote my books to my audience in smart ways. Self-publish.
Essentially, there are three steps—with sub-steps that can be tweaked as necessary.
Will I achieve my goals? I know I'll achieve at least one: I will get my books into the hands of readers. That is the one item being an Independent Author can guarantee me over the traditional route that may never be opened to me. I'm thinking the fate of my other goals is more securely in my hands as well, but that remains to be seen. I know I'll work at it. That's a given.