I write because I have to. I’ve never been a person who could take it or leave it. If I’m not working on a writing project, I am filling my 70-page college-rule theme books with rants, prayers, letters, dreams, lists, story ideas, essay outlines and whatever comes to mind, including stream of consciousness thinking.
Do I need to publish? No. Do I want to entertain, share some insight and maybe a little wisdom? Yes. Could I just give it away? Yes. Will that help me fulfill my goals and dreams? Probably not.
For six years, I have thought about what I want to do with what I write and what I hope to accomplish. During those six years, the publishing and bookselling world continued to slog through the process of reinventing itself (and still is). The world had changed.
What I’ve discovered is that I’m not immune to the desire for recognition and respect. I am not averse to money should it come my way. However, I don’t fall asleep to images or NY Times bestseller fame and huge advances. Oh, I did in the beginning, sure, but that has faded as other things came into focus.
- I want to share a bit of myself with the world and leave at least a small legacy.
- I want to teach (mentor, assist) creative writing classes or workshops on a community level and publishing credit provides “street cred.”
- I want to coach and encourage writers, not only with their drafts, but especially with their process.
- I would like to start a small press one day and help bring the projects of others into the world as an author’s partner. I am also interested in partnering with at-risk youth programs.
- I want to find an outlet for the hours I spent writing that is both respected and understood by my family, who sometimes resent the time I spend with my pen.
- I would like to supplement my income and perhaps attend a conference or two every year.
Now, the basic truth is that I love to write and stories come to me as naturally as essays that encourage or teach. It is something of myself than I can offer the world if I choose not to hoard them away.
These are (mostly) realistic goals and dreams. If fame and fortune were to knock on my door, that would be okay, too. J
So, having formulated a list of my desires and looking at the state of the industry, I came to some conclusions.
- Some form of traditional publishing will help me build a platform for mentoring other writers. Call it clout, cache, or cred, it still matters. Would I take a workshop from Amanda Hocking? Damn straight. But Ms Hocking is beyond a typical success (and she didn’t get there overnight).
- Straight traditional publishing no longer pays for the mid-list down. When a printing is done and books are remaindered, it is gone. Advances are smaller and 9-15% of the cover prices less the agent’s commission do not, in most cases, begin to pay for adequate marketing – something publishers used to provide.
- Self-publishing still has the stigma of vanity press. Through my own purchase, I can see why. Some indie books are just outstanding. Some of them are so full of spelling and grammar errors and typos that I cannot get into them. The rest fall in between.
- The future lies between traditional and Indie. Digital imprints and hybrid business models are a good start for someone in my circumstances.
- An online presence is a requirement for success, and that presence is multi-faceted.
- To be an author is to be a business. The business of writing is different from the act of creating stories.
So how do my goals and I fit into this? More importantly, how does my work fit into this? I write an eclectic mix of genres and crossovers, so I would prefer a plan that allowed me to write what came as opposed to focusing narrowly on one genre. It’s time to create my plan.
The Rest of the Series:
Part Five: Gathering Support – putting together a personal support network from family, friends, and mentors.