Some words from my friend and fellow writer, Noreen Ayres regarding changes in the publishing landscape. She wrote this to the American Crime Writers League but, agreed to let me share it with all of you.
Advice proliferates in carefully thought-out newsletter pieces which a writer has stolen time to offer, the same for author blogs, and as topics in panels at writers' conferences. For instance, intricate advice is available in the July/August MWA newsletter as to how to go about self-publishing, an effort that formerly carried a stigma that has largely since vanished.It is easy to get discouraged nowadays about publishing Yet I know people who are writing books like crazy and getting contracts from publishing houses. I think it still is true that you have to be read by the right editor at the right time. And the right time can be crucial. An editor admitted to me once that she bought a manuscript simply because she had set a coffee cup down on the top page, leaving coffee rings, so many times she was too embarrassed to send it back to the author and it just so happened she had an open slot. She immediately sent a contract. Okay, the book was good, not great and the editor hadn't totally decided to accept or reject but she did accept to keep from sending it back. I remember a writer years ago saying, getting published it like playing that arcade game where the Big Claw hovers over a pile of plush toys and occasionally the claw reaches down and grabs a winner. That's just about how it works.
What I see in either traditional or self-publishing is an exhausting list of marketing and publicity demands requiring an author to have the vitality of a twenty-year-old, the available time of an unemployed person with no family demands, or the madness of an obsessive/compulsive idealist with ironclad armor. Bleak as it goes, some of us will simply say thanks for the wonderful party as long as it lasted and now it's time to move on to other endeavors and pleasures-if we can tear loose.
But I do want to offer this thought. When I heard Walter Mosley in the middle of his career answer the question about how to get published, I was (sadly) amused. He said he didn't know anything about anything, nothing at all. And let's not forget screenwriter William Goldman, in his "Adventures in the Screen Trade", offering his famous statement about the movie industry: "Nobody knows anything." What it means for any of us is that doors open for seemingly no reason and shut for the same. If we keep on and don't publish again, there's a bunch of trash for relatives to figure out what to do with. If we keep on and do publish, we make new friends, and friends are the second-best gift of love after family, wouldn't you say?
Just one more thing while I'm rattling on. The article I learned the most from as editor of our ACWL newsletter contained responses to my interviews with our true-crime author members. I will always admire the extra hard work of those whose research includes interviews of crime investigators, victims, or even perpetrators. If you're still "out there," authors, thanks again.
However, many writers are turning to publishing books online as E-books. Some are putting their back list online as E-books and are making fairly good money doing so. Some publishers are publishing a book in hard copy and in their own imprint form of E-books. I know some authors who are doing both. Publishing with an established publishing house and also publishing new books as E-books. And many writers are using online publishing totally, having given up on being published by a brick and mortar publisher. Either way you go has to be what you think is the best thing for you. Where you can make enough money to continue this fond habit we have of wanting to tell a story.
My best advice is to Keep On Writing.
Now: A funny, frustrating cautionary true tale. Two weeks ago I went to Round Rock Kia, a car dealership in a northern suburb of Austin, to consider purchasing a newer pre-owned vehicle. It was late afternoon when I arrived around 6 p.m. I soon was test-driving and deciding on a brand new Kia Soul. I like the car a lot and since it was the last of the month and the 2015 line was closing out I was able to get a reasonable deal. Something I could afford. By the time I had signed reams and reams of paper, promising a pint of blood and the next male child born into my family I was ready to leave the dealer. I was the proud owner of what the company called an Alien Green 2015 Kia Soul. I called my sister a few minutes before I left as she lived nearby and I wanted to go by and show-off. It was 10 p.m. when I left the car place. I drove around the block and onto Interstate 35. Approximately a mile from the car dealer, I was sideswiped. My brand new car went...Kerruunnch. I wasn't hurt. My airbags didn't even deploy. My side view mirror was destroyed.
I couldn't believe it, there was a white car that passed right in front of me and there was an off ramp. I saw the car go off and I followed, thinking they were going to pull over and we'd exchange insurance information. Nope, they weren't into that. Stopping, I mean. I had slowed down looking for a place to pull over while the white car, way up ahead now, sped up and hopped back on the freeway. For a minute I thought I should follow and get their license number but then I realized it was foolish to do that. I pulled over and called my sister and told her what had happened. She reminded me that the police wouldn't come out they'd just have you fill out an accident report.
I drove to my sister's house and started to get out. That's when I discovered my door wouldn't open any more than a couple of inches. My brother-in-law said he could bang that binding metal out for me but I was afraid the insurance company might consider that tampering with the car so we left it alone and I drove the 65 mile trip to my house. Now picture a 76 year old woman with bursitis in the left hip and two knees that aren't the best, trying to climb over the console to get out the passenger door. Took several long minutes before I noticed the hand hold above the passenger door and lifted my "large bootie" out. I had been a little afraid I'd have to spend the night in my new damaged car.
Next morning I call my insurance agent at State Farm and verified that I was indeed covered and that my insurance covered a rental car. I had two things scheduled that I needed to go to so I made arrangements for the repair shop to get my door open for me. They did and the next day I took my new damaged car to be repaired. I got my car back yesterday and it is fixed good as new.
Thank goodness I wasn't hurt. Thank goodness I had good insurance. And now I don't have to worry about getting a ding in my new car. It's already been dinged.
However, I'm hoping karma has already bitten the driver of the white car and keeps on biting.
Until next time, drive safely.