And I am back! It's good to be back. My kids stumbled in to say hello at 5 am and I've got a tennis match this morning, which I am going to lose at like nobody's business. Unless eating three pounds of chocolate cake in a four day period and not exercising for several weeks is actually good for me, then today's outcome is a foregone conclusion. If someone finds my competitive spirit, please return it.
The conference was very interesting. Every day my brain hurt. If you are a writer and are thinking about conferences, let me tell you, I've been to a fair amount in the last year and there are some stinkers out there. My opinion is that RWA and your local chapter is a great jumping off point for info and contacts. A big conference like RT or RWA National is good too, but if you want craft, it's better to go to an all day course from someone like Bell, Vogler, Dixon, Hague or Maass. The Hero's Journey and story arcs, all that stuff is fascinating and can not be covered in a two hour time period.
I've been asked why I independently published and if I tried to go traditional before Independently Publishing. And to a certain extent I did. I finished LID at the beginning of 2011 and went to a pitch conference. I was told by an agent who is very prominent in Paranormal/Urban Fantasy circles that vampires were dead-dead. And that the odds of me getting it published were very low (she said this without reading a single word I had written). I cried. She was really mean. And although writers are told to expect mean agents, it still sucks when it happens.
Then I sent out half a dozen query letters and got rejections back so quickly it made my head spin. Rejections are supposed to take awhile, like weeks, so how come I was getting a 12 hour turn around? Was my query that bad? No. I will say my query was good. It was a variation of the book blurb and had been seriously worked on. Yes, six queries is nothing. Maybe I should have continued but I really didn't want to.
The last rejection letter I received said 'I have no idea if your story is any good but we are not acquiring that genre right now.' My first thought was 'Oh.' My second thought was 'Oh, shit!'
I had finished a book for a genre that agents and editors were saying was dead. But I loved Valerie, Jack and Lucas. Truthfully, I loved Marion too. She cracked me up. And I didn't want to put it aside, start on another book and hope that the vampire 'trend' would come back around in ten years and some publisher might be willing to publish the book. Perhaps I could have gone small press or an e publisher but I didn't see the point.
I also toyed with making them not vampires. If you've read a dragon book you might ask yourself if it was originially a shifter/ vampire book that got changed. It probably was. Cause who really wants to bone a dragon? No one. But it was different enough two years ago that it might have been published.
After more revising and revising I published LID in August and I think it's turned out pretty damned well. Additionally, the industry is in a state of change. Like DVD's and music, book sales and the way books are consumed is changing faster than the industry would like. Everywhere I go, when I meet someone who is an 'insider' I always ask, 'where do you think the industry will be in five years?' and the answer I get is that one of the big six probably won't make it but they might survive on non-fiction (which is super profitable), and that with the collapse of book stores and lack of shelf space, publisher's time and money will go to big authors.
Mid list and new authors are screwed.
I have also heard murmurings that the industry is waiting to see what will happen with Amanda Hocking. If she sells well and makes the jump to traditional with a lot of sales, then I believe (and others who actually know something seem to agree with me) that most new authors will be forced to build up a following independently and prove that they can promote themselves.
If they make enough sales and get enough followers then the big six might make some effort to scoop them up. In my opinion, that's better for everyone. Right now authors don't get a lot of money and their book can drop into obscurity and there is nothing they can do-- the rights are gone.
Also, the industry doesn't want to give a lot of money to an author who can't perform. So if an author is making a lot of money independently, a traditional publisher will have to make it worth their while to give up that profit, which makes them more invested in a book and less likely to give it a low print run and have it disappear. Everyone becomes invested.