Entrepreneur to Collaborator: Abstract and Chapter 1

Okay, here we go at last. I’m leaving out some of the MLA-related details, like the title page and table of contents, because those don’t quite work on a blog. I’m also splitting up the Works Cited pages so that each post is self-contained in its references.

To be honest, I’m not particularly happy with my title. It’s rather wordy, and I have to keep using the word “entrepreneur” for each post. Titles tend to be a problem for me, so if you have any ideas for a snappier one I’d be happy to hear them. With that said, let’s begin.


Abstract

Both traditional and self-publishing bring their own benefits and flaws, which prospective authors should weigh before choosing one or the other. This study hopes to answer 1) what are the benefits and flaws of traditional publishing, 2) what are the benefits and flaws of self-publishing, 3) what can any author do to aid the success of his or her own book, regardless of publishing method, and 4) how can he or she avoid exploitation in an evolving industry? To answer these questions, a variety of internet and firsthand sources were tapped, primarily authors from one or both styles of publication. A few common traits were found. Typically traditional publishing is slower, but more collaborative and connected to other partners in the industry, such as bookstores, while self-publishing is an entrepreneurial endeavor with a great deal of freedom and responsibility. Internet marketing and personal connections with readers were invaluable regardless of publishing method. Vanity publishers and scammers can pose as any type of press, but there are a number of resources available to authors if they choose to investigate their options. Ultimately each writer must choose for him or herself, based on his or her unique circumstances, how to publish.


Chapter 1: Introduction

Introduction

Every prospective writer faces a crossroad. Once the draft is finalized, the mistakes polished and the secondary readers pacified, the author must choose: self-publishing, or a traditional press? Writing and publishing advice is plentiful, but not always helpful, and those with experience tend to be biased towards whichever path they have already chosen. What turns one person into a bestselling author may bankrupt another due to talents, circumstances or simple luck. How do authors, particularly brand-new ones, decide which is the better path for them? Each side has its own benefits and negatives, which will have to be weighed so that authors can decide for themselves. However, the difference is not as wide as it has been in the past, either in options or in shared techniques.

Background of the Topic

The format of traditional publishing has little variation between publishing houses. An author, with or without a literary agent, turns in a manuscript, perhaps accompanied by a query letter or book package. If the publisher accepts it, the book is edited, polished and marketed to the masses, with both parties taking a portion of the profits. Otherwise, it is rejected for the author to continue drafting, or to send elsewhere. A publisher acted as a benchmark, theoretically keeping poorly-written novels out of the market. However, the market has evolved. As author Guy Kawasaki points out, publishers are no longer hallmarks of quality writing; “when readers contemplate buying your book today, they often don’t even notice the publisher. They look instead at the ratings and reviews received by the audience” (Caprino). Thus self-publishing has become more and more successful, particularly as the eBook market has grown. However, this new independence means that an author is no longer offered a single package of editors, artists and marketing consultants with a publishing contract, but must seek them out single-handed. Some choose to cut corners, not knowing whether or not that might harm their book, and like many new ideas, self-publishing’s most famous successes are often just as infamous as they are famous, such as E. L. James. The choice is legitimate, and that much more complicated.

Problem Statement

How is a budding author to know what to do? Both styles of publishing bring their own benefits and flaws; what are they, and how can authors either compensate for, or take advantage of, each? Traditional publishing forces books to be drafted and polished, which can bring out the best in them, and puts them on mainstream bookshelves, but the process typically takes six months or longer, assuming the book is accepted at all. Self-publishing can be much more rapid, but it is also riskier, especially for a novice who thinks that all they need is a well-written story and an attractive cover. In the case of self-publishing, what parts of the usual package are the most important, and which can be skipped? Also, in a market with so much variety, frauds can creep in and deceive the inexperienced. Sometimes vanity presses, which print books at the author’s expense, pose as traditional publishers and trick authors into paying for the privilege of doing all the work themselves, and of course one might run into a stubborn editor whose vision is drastically different from that of the original author. How is a brand-new author to tell when they are being taken advantage of?

Professional Significance of the Work

This decision becomes relevant to each young author as he or she begins to consider publication. Those in writing circles have seen their friends discuss their options, and likely attempted a few stories themselves. The advice from writers and agents, the bad examples of self-published authors like Robert Stanek or Gloria Tesch, and the tempting offers from places like Lulu or Amazon, make this a very confusing situation. By examining all of these sources, this study is intended to examine all of the relevant factors, so that whatever its readers choose, they choose it with open eyes.

Overview of Methodology

In order to collect information, members of the industry on both sides of the argument will be sought out. Experienced authors, agents and editors will be studied to find what made them choose their publishing method, and this way the inevitable bias will hopefully be balanced out. Blogs in particular will probably be a very helpful source, because they are often the opinion of an individual, not filtered through the biases of editors, but they can also win professional acclaim—for instance, the Reader’s Digest gives awards to useful sites for writers—and thus earn credibility. Along with these secondhand sources, authors—self-published, traditional and hybrid—will be interviewed directly on their experiences, and surveyed for common perceptions and motives.

Boundaries of the Project

The purpose of this study is to introduce beginning authors to the world of publishing. Thus, the only method of traditional publishing that will be considered will be unsolicited, in which the writer queries for a publishing contract with a manuscript. Solicited writing or ghostwriting are not relevant to this topic. Also, the focus will be on fiction, especially novels. Short stories, poetry and anthologies are typically sold to different venues, such as magazines or anthologies, and nonfiction has its own benefits and challenges. All of these genres extend beyond the scope of this paper.

Definition of Terms

  • Publishing – The business of preparing and selling a book to the public.
  • Self-publisher – An author who publishes his or her book without aid, or a company which enables an author to publish a book, for which the author has complete marketing and financial responsibility.
  • Traditional publisher – A third-party publisher who takes on the responsibility of editing, packaging and marketing the book, and part of the financial risk in exchange for a percentage of the profits.
  • Hybrid publishing – A practice in which an author uses both traditional and self-publishing practices, such as making a short story anthology available as a free download while working on the next novel in a traditionally published series.
  • Vanity publisher – A press which authors pay to have their works published, instead of being paid for writing. They are not selective in what books they publish.
  • Soliciting – Sending in a manuscript for consideration.
  • Marketing – The business of promoting a book in order to attract potential buyers.

Conclusion

New authors seeking publication are faced with a changing marketplace. They have to choose whether to submit their work to a major publishing company, and undergo the long process of preparing their book for publication, or take the deceptively quick route of self-publishing, and find all of the services they need on their own. Before they even reach that point they have to evaluate their chosen press to make sure it is legitimate, and afterwards they must assist in marketing their books to potential readers. This paper is intended to present both sides of the issue so that those same authors can make an informed decision based on their needs and strengths.

Works Cited

Caprino, Kathy. “Considering Self-Publishing? Don’t Bother, Unless You Follow Guy Kawasaki’s Advice.” Forbes.com. n. pag. 21 January 2013. Web. 27 May 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2013/01/21/considering-self-publishing-dont-bother-unless-you-follow-guy-kawasakis-advice/

In which I interview CSE Cooney

This interview is sadly the last one I was able to do before my deadline arrived, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I originally met CSE Cooney when she and some of my siblings were performing with Flock Theatre. She’s written several poems and novellas, getting them published through small traditional presses, and is part of a band of authors called the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadors. Her main site can be found here.


 

1. What, in brief, is your history with publishing? As far as you know, is this a common experience, or were there special factors?

I really can’t speak for anyone else’s experience, although from what I’ve witnessed, the combination of mentoring, submissions, beta-readers, writing groups, and networking is all part of many people’s processes. I didn’t know that when I was 18, though! When I was 18, I met my mentor, Gene Wolfe. He took a look at the first few chapters of the novel I was working on, wrote me a letter–full of both critique and compliments–and recommended I start out writing short stories and submitting them. After I’ve gotten short stories published, he said, I’d have enough credentials to present myself to an agent or publisher when I submit a novel.

Gene also took me to my first writing convention. It was there I met the editor of Subterranean Press, Bill Schafer, who ended up publishing “Stone Shoes,” which was my first pro-rate sale. At different conventions over the years, I also met the editors who published my first poems. I’ll never regret this–ever–but it has made me wonder from the first if editors published me only because they liked me personally and not solely on the basis of my work. People have told me time and again that no editor would publish something bad on the basis of personality. However, I do think having a face to set to a submission name never hurt me!

Fourteen years later, I have had many short stories, novellas, and poems published. I am currently looking for an agent for my novel. I think that if I had written more novels instead of short stories, and began looking for an agent sooner, in my twenties, I might be further along in my career now. But I might not be as good a writer. It’s hard to say. There was a three year chunk in college while I was only writing for my classes. Perhaps this was a necessary break; again, who can know?

For me the publishing process has been arduous, surprising, occasionally frustrating, and mostly splendid. The only thing I know for sure is that everything happens so much slower than I thought it would when I was a teenager! Which is not everybody’s experience, I think. But it is most people’s.

2. What was the best part about being published? How about the worst?

There is a sense of unreality when you hold your own book in your hand, and look at your byline and think, “That’s me. This is the house that I built.” A kind of euphoria.

Sometimes it’s even enough to make you forget the true difficulties of working with small presses, which are great fun, but usually only run by one or two people, who have pretty full lives of their own. Publishing books in a small press is not their only, or even their major, source of income. Communication can get hairy, especially in this age of social platforms, when one expects immediate responses. Deadlines aren’t always met on time, or ever. Promises get broken.

On the other hand, other small presses perform quickly, are enthusiastic and helpful, and one’s relationship with them grows into a kind of long-distance friendship, which is really cool.

3. How do you connect to your audience outside of writing? I know you have a site and a LiveJournal.

I do have a LiveJournal. And a Facebook page. And a website. And, now, on my friend Amal El-Mohtar’s insistence, a Twitter. I like to blog the big things (I like to blog in general), but I’m on Facebook more than anything. My friend Julia Rios, one of the editors of Strange Horizons, likes to tease me and say, “You always have CONTENT.” But I do pop my head up and…assert my personality as often as possible. This will sound callous, but I mean it in the most earnest possible way:

If people like you, they might buy your book for your sake. Then, if they like your book, they’ll buy your next book for the book’s sake.

It’s another way to get your foot in the door. It’s sort of like that Irish curse: You’ll know writers by their limping.

4. What about other authors and people in the publishing industry?

Again, I can’t speak for others. Some people are geniuses, and their work is worthy of recognition right away. Some people are geniuses and aren’t recognized for the first few decades they’ve been writing. Some people start out with novels and stick with them. Some people only write in the short form. Some people are far more garrulous and social than I am, and their pool of friendly, professional acquaintances is wider, and therefore their chances are broader. Some people are brilliant and have bad luck. Some people are awful and are blessed by the gods. I don’t know! I only know that I have been helped so much, and there is an honor system of returning the favor to writers younger than myself. People are pretty conscious of this mentoring system in the Speculative Fiction community. It’s something we talk about often.

5. Is there any other non-writing work you do for your books and poetry?

I have done a few lectures, many readings (at conventions and the like), and performances as well. My training is in writing and acting. I have my BA from Columbia College Chicago, which is an arts school. A few friends and I decided that a group we had far more likely a chance to boost our own signal than being tiny flames on our own. Together, we could become a beacon. Plus, we’re all stage-trained and musically trained. So we formed a performance group called The Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours. We excerpt and dramatize sections of our fiction. We write and sing music. We recite our wicked, mythic, storytelling poetry. And we just went on our first mini-tour.

6. Is there anything you’ve learned from experience that you wish you’d known before you began?

I suppose it would be to know how slow all of it is, and to have started earlier and more aggressively. I’m pretty timid in any new given situation. I wish I could tell my younger self (as many people TRIED to tell me) to spread my net more widely. To be courteous but not so tender as to retreat in the face of defeat. To submit a hundred times more than I did. To write faster. To read more.

But so much can only come from experience. There is no possible way that me telling my younger self could have changed much; my brain needed to change. It needed years to grow and mature and to specialize in this particular career. Maybe the truth is that I’m a slow bloomer. Maybe someone else will be able to read this at 18 and have it all by 25. Everyone has their own speed, their own time.

7. Have you run into any real differences between publishing fiction and poetry? Or between short and longer works?

There are fewer markets for poetry than for fiction. For fiction, there are fewer markets for novellas than for short stories. I write more novellas than anything else. Often short story markets also have a poetry department.

The main difference between selling short works (be they fiction or poetry) to magazines and small presses and selling longer works like novels to large presses is that for the former you are working directly with the editors, if not the publishers themselves, and for the latter, you have to ally with an intermediary, an agent, who knows the business end of books in and out. I’m in the process of questing for an agent myself right now, and it’s trickier than you’d think. People have compared it with dating. If one were dating around for a business partner instead of a romantic relationship. I haven’t been on my quest long enough to come up with a comparison of my own yet; the dating one doesn’t quite work for me.

8. Which would you usually recommend to a new author, self publishing or traditional? Why?

Oh… This is a tricky question. Part of me would recommend traditional first. Writing, in a weird, is weirdly communal. Your story comes through you first, raw in its early form, then polished through the draft process. Usually it passes through the hands of other writers who are your friends: beta-readers or writing groups, that sort of thing. Then when you submit it, it can come back to you with useful rejections from editors (who have seen hundreds, thousands of stories) telling you why the story wasn’t working, or why they couldn’t publish it. Alternately, it could be accepted and go through undreamed-of changes that improve the story beyond anything you could have done to it.

If you self-publish, most of those latter steps go right out the window. Your product may still be beautiful and unusual, but perhaps not as honed.

Now, if one has tried all the traditional venues, and your product is perhaps TOO unusual, too beautiful, too strange or interstitial or liminal, or you know it’s good, but you also know there are a billion others like it, and the magazines and small presses can only choose the absolute best. But you know yours is just as good – and besides, you already invested all this time in it, then I think exploring self-publishing is absolutely spiffy.

But part of me says, publishing is changing. Technology is changing. The world is changing. Change with it. Do whatever. Do all the things. Make money by writing. By fair means or foul, sell your work.

I think casting a wide net, getting both feet and a head through the door, boosting your signal, spreading out in all directions can all be necessary in this business.

Of course, that makes focusing on the craft a little harder. So. Artist’s choice.

9. The industry’s been changing, especially in recent years with companies like Amazon getting into the publishing game. Do you think this is for better or worse? Why?

Oh, I have no idea. I’m going to let better minds than mine decide. There are plenty of articles on this very subject all over the internet. I rarely read them. It’s hard enough to find the time to write, much less speculate on if I even have a future in it. I think that as self-publishing gets easier, big publishers are going to get more… refined. I think the market will be inundated with all kinds of unfiltered, unedited manuscripts and it might be harder to get to the good stuff. But then, publishers of big presses haven’t always (in my opinion) only published good stuff. Not by any means. Unfortunately, this part of the industry is one that’s never really interested me. I’m probably the poorer for it. But I only have so many hours in my day. And I’d rather be writing.

10. I saw you’re looking for an agent. What made you decide to do this?

It’s just the next step! I have a book I’m really excited about: Miscellaneous Stones: Assassin. It’s the first in a trilogy. I think it’s supermarketable. And I’m not up to the task of self-publishing it. In a sense, I feel the book is better than what I can give it, in that sense. It deserves a team of professionals, from the copy-editor to the cover-designer. And I’m not those people.

11. Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours. There’s got to be a good story behind that—even just the name.

See above!!!

In which I reflect on my progress

I can’t believe how quickly this course is flying by. I’ve already learned a lot about publishing, both from my Google-based research and the people I’ve gotten to talk to. Although I haven’t had much success in interviewing the people I originally wanted to, as you can see, I’ve gotten several interviews from unexpected places. It may not be what I planned, and it was a little rushed because of my deadlines, but even that was useful. People who aren’t super-famous actually have time to respond to me. Plus I get to hear about experiences that are probably more common, and simultaneously ones I wouldn’t have sought out before. I’d like to keep up these connections now that I’ve made them.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that, scary though it seemed at first, I really, really like doing interviews! I love picking the brains of awesome people and hearing the stories behind the stories. Now that I think about it, that’s a really weird and slightly morbid phrase. As if I’m opening up someone’s skull and pulling out bits of information with tweezers. I like it.

There is still a chance for me to get an interview with Ms. Strauss, which I want even if it comes too late to go into the paper, because she and her work are fascinating. Also, thanks to another friend-of-a-friend situation I may be getting to interview Bruce Coville. His Unicorn Chronicles series got me into unicorns when I was around 13, which prompted me to write what I believe is the first novel-length manuscript I ever finished. As you can imagine, it was pretty bad, but hey, nostalgia!

In terms of the project itself, I’m not sure how to feel. My teacher is very encouraging and always there for me, but I don’t feel as if I’m learning anything about how to write a research paper. I’m just mimicking the instructions and (lifesaving) sample papers, without clear understanding. Part of the problem may be the textbook we’re following; it’s written for doctoral theses, and uses a lot of jargon. I have to take it apart to figure out which bits are relevant to my project. Basically, good course, but after several courses with a heavy focus on form, it’s a little unnerving to have to guess what goes where and what all the jargon means.

Well, at least I’m learning the stuff I’m going to use in the future. Plus my grades are good so I must be guessing right a lot of the time.

In which I talk to Geri Krotow

Geri Krotow is another find from Facebook–note to self: personal connections are a lot more reliable than cold-calling strangers–and a traditionally-published romance writer. Also I did ask her a few more questions than this, but her response was a body of text so I had trouble separating it into Q & A format. Her site is here.


What were the best and worst elements of publishing?

The best is having my books on the shelf in Kmart, WalMart, grocery stores, etc, all over the country and world. My stories can reach so many people, and now with the digital market it’s beyond my dreams. The worst part is the wait—it took me 6 years of submissions (and rejections!) to sell. But this is good because it forced me to keep learning and improving my writing.

Would you recommend this to a new author? Why or why not?

I recommend traditional publishing to everyone as if I’d independently published that first manuscript (that never sold and never SHOULD sell :)) it would have been a BIG mistake. My writing wasn’t ready for “prime time.” That said, my friends who have a large backlist of books AND have gotten the rights back from their publishers are re-publishing on their own (indie) and some are making big profits, especially if they have a large readership.

How much of the legwork (like marketing) did you have to do yourself?

As for marketing, in this day, every author is her own marketing person. You have to be. I am very conscious of my brand (military romance/romantic suspense) and it’s important to keep giving my readers what they expect from me. This is the promise to the reader. The most important platform is the author website, which must be kept up-to-date and give readers a place to go and learn about you after they’ve finished a book (and hopefully find more of your books to buy!). Next is a strong social media platform. I’m active on Twitter and Facebook, and a bit on Pinterest. Also, Goodreads. I have an Author Page on Facebook, too. I do this all myself, except I do pay people to do my website (which costs A LOT, you get what you pay for.). But it’s part of building my business from the ground up, and having a secure platform I’ll be able to rely on when I hit it “big.”

For that, I trust God. If I’m meant to be financially successful, I will, if not, the most important thing is that I’m true to the stories that come down for me to put on paper. If they reach and help one person through a rough day, then I’ve done my job (vocation). 

In which I talk to Kimberly Herbert

In doing this project, I seriously underestimated the power of Facebook. In an attempt to get some actual responses on my survey, I posted a link. My Mom reposted it, and some of her friends turned out to be authors. I asked and got a couple of useful interviews out of the deal.

My first was Kimberly Herbert, She’s self-published, and has actually been doing it for twelve years. She has a site here, and you can check it out if you want.


 

What was your experience with the publishing industry (in brief)? As far as you know, is this a common experience or were there special factors?

My first experience 12 years ago was not so favorable with the company I had originally tried. I found their system requirements for submission and their program was a bit difficult to navigate. Their price was fairly steep as well. However, self-publishing was fairly new at that time and there were few companies to go with. But in my most recent experience the new company is definitely much easier to navigate and their price is one of the least expensive in the market.

What were the best and worst elements of self-publishing?

The best thing about self-publishing is that I have complete control of my work including the cover. The worst part is the marketing end of it. I am responsible for everything including promotion.

The industry has changed a lot over time. Do you think it’s for the better, or worse, and why?

For myself it is absolutely for the better. There is much more variety for the choices I make in which company I will work with in the future.

Would you recommend self-publishing to a new author, and why?

That depends on how far the author is willing to go in order get his or her work on the market. There is a lot of leg work involved in self-publishing and some people do not wish to take on that much responsibility. Some authors would rather have a publishing company take the reins and make decisions for them. That’s not a bad route, if an author can get themselves accepted by a publishing company and is willing to change their work when told, in order to please someone else.

I’ve heard it said that self-publishers are also entrepreneurs. Do you usually find that to be the case?

Yes, entrepreneurs are motivated people who go out into the world finding new avenues to become successful. In order to be a successful self-published author, one must have that drive to get their work out into a very crowded market.

In which I talk to Bonnie Watson

So far this assignment has been rather . . . uneven. Because I am searching for firsthand data, there are long stretches of time where I can do nothing but sit and wait for other people to respond to me. Then everything comes together at the very end of the last week, and I spend a frantic Saturday throwing my paper together and turning it in.

Here I am on Friday night, with a paper due by midnight on Sunday (though thankfully not a necessarily long one), and now the interviews are finally creeping in. My first, and one I’m very happy with, is with author Bonnie Watson. I found her through a mutual acquaintance and she was great to work with, giving me useful answers quicker than anyone else–within a day of my request.

Her site is Wisdom Novels, if you want to check out her work, and you should.


 

1) What was your experience with the publishing industry? As far as you know, is this a common experience or were there special factors?
My experience with the publishing industry was definitely an eye-opener. For one thing, it taught me what to look for between the two types of publishing: self-publishing and main stream/traditional. If anything, you have to be PATIENT when waiting for responses. You have to look at what they’re offering in their contracts, how much you make in royalties, how much they want, the do’s and don’ts and “watch out for’s”, etc. 
 
I once gave a talk at a high school about the “roller coaster” ups and downs when dealing with publishers. Since there are so many different features each one can give an author, sometimes it just depends on what an author needs at the moment. I choose self-publishing first time because I wanted to give book signings like all the rest of my author friends, and I wanted a quick turn-a-round. 
 
I’m sure every author goes through some crazy moments in the publishing field. I’ve heard several complain, and then several compliment. Most complain. Do I have complaints? Not so much since most of the kinks are being worked out.
 
2) What did you learn from self-publishing? Did anything prove useful when you got a contract?
 
What I learned most with the self-publishing way, and probably the most disappointing way, was that you really couldn’t get into bookstores unless it was a company that that already had contracts with the bookstores. Take for example, Lulu.com. No book, to my knowledge, unless picked up by a big brand company, gets into a bookstore that has lulu’s logo on it. Why? Because anybody can use them, and you can easily publish any book without even proofreading it. It makes the company look shabby, but I have to admit that they were my first choice when self-publishing because I didn’t have to wait. Submitting a book takes mere minutes, and within a week or so you’ve got your order of books.  
 
3) Is there anything that you regret from your self-publishing days? Conversely, is there anything you miss now about that time?
 
I really have no regrets. It was a nice learning curb that slowly transitioned the more I studied between the different companies. I knew where I wanted to go. It was only a matter of time before I could get there. So what’s there to miss about self-publishing? I suppose it would be the fact that I could control my prices, change up books on the whelm. Not so much now, at least with print. Now ebooks… that’s a different story.
 
4) What was the biggest change in the process of making a book when you switched publishing styles?
 
I really didn’t see a change as far as switching publishing styles. If anything, it threw business my way since I became sole graphic designer for the publisher who did my books. When do chances like that come about? 
 
5) Which would you recommend to a new author, and why?
 
Which would I recommend? Since I’m with a small publisher who’s just getting started, I can’t say either way because we’re all still learning the process. Marketing is still a big factor and is very expensive. It depends on the author’s needs. I’d say that if you want to see what your book looks like quick, then choose something like lulu.com and then it’s easy to edit once you have the proof copy. Something like that is fine for friends and family. Big game stores, I’d recommend doing your research. 
 
6)I’ve heard it said that self-publishers are also entrepreneurs. Has that been the case for you?
 
I would definitely have to agree with the entrepreneur question. You really have to be because all the expense is on you. You are responsible for your own marketing, and really even now I still am. I can get books anytime I want, but it’s up to me to sell them. If I can’t sell them, and the publisher can’t sell them, there’s a problem. That’s where creative marketing can add up. I’m still looking into ways to market, since that’s definitely my weakness in this whole deal. 
 
7) Success is a hard thing to measure. I’ve chosen to ask, having come through the publishing process, can you look back at your book and say “I and the people I worked with made it the best book I could and I’m proud of how it turned out”?
 
OH, I’M SO PROUD OF MY WORK!!!! And not only the writing, and the people who helped edit, but the fact that since I’m an illustrator it helped build my portfolio of characters and landscapes, creatures and concepts. The two go hand in hand. Every painting has a story behind it. Every story has a picture to paint. So I’m just an endless beacon of stories for both worlds. The world of Art. The world of Storytelling. There’s no living without either ~ see porfolio: BONNIE WATSON
 
Soooo…. I hoped I answered everything you needed. 
 
Enjoy the artwork, too! Bonus, right?
 
Hey let me know if you ever want to read one of my books, because I’m offering a free PDF in exchange for Amazon reviews – yeah it’s a marketing tactic, lol

So I think that went pretty well. I’m starting to realize that there are a lot more writers around me than I thought . . .

In which I discuss potential interviewees

So far, I’ve decided on four types of people I’d like to interview for this project. I require:

  1. A successful* traditionally-published author.
  2. A successful self-published author.
  3. Someone who helps prepare books for publication independently, like a book shepherd.
  4. Someone good at identifying scam presses.

*One of the other students in my class asked how I’m defining success. After some thought and a little more research, I’ve decided that “success,” at least in terms of this paper, means “creating a book which the author can look back on with pride, not regret.”

These are my first choices. I’ve already contacted them all (or at least, attempted to contact them), but I haven’t heard back yet. It’s only been two days so I’m trying not to panic. At least I have the automated responses to know that they did actually receive the emails.

So, my first pick for a traditionally-published author is John Green. I’ve been a nerdfighter since . . . 2010, I want to say, maybe a little later, so he came immediately to mind. Traditional publishers are generally known for not taking advantage of things like social media and viral marketing, but John’s really good at it, thus New York Times bestseller and movie adaptation. I think he even qualifies as a hybrid writer thanks to Zombiecorns.

Of course, with TFIOS still in theaters I suspect his schedule is going to be really crazy for a while yet, so although I’m hopeful, I think it’ll take a while before I get a response. That and everyone I’ve tried to contact to ask for him is on vacation.

My first pick for a self-published author is a little different, in that the guy in question doesn’t primarily identify as an author, but as an entrepreneur. Of course, that fits with what I’ve learned about self-publishing, because when you do it yourself, you kind of are running a business.

Mark Coker wrote a book with his wife, and even with the help of an objectively awesome literary agent they could not sell it, so they decided to self-publish. He saw an opening in the market to help other authors do the same, and thus the site Smashwords was born. I discovered him through a series of YouTube videos he made about the publishing process, which I found very helpful, and I read some more of his advice and decided I really wanted to talk to this man. I have no idea if I’ll get that chance, but I’m really hoping I can.

In my research, a few names kept cropping up. One was Joel Friedlander, also known as the Book Designer. He’s one of a number of individuals who offer to help authors prepare their books for the marketplace, so I’d like to ask him how that process works, and how much it’s connected to self-publishing. I mean, obviously if you’re going to do the whole book yourself you might want some professional help, but I could see someone wanting to polish up a book and proposal to go for a traditional book deal too.

Lastly, I’m tackling the topic of who to avoid when you’re trying to put out a book, and in that realm there are two main sites: Predators and Editors, and Writers Beware. It didn’t take too long for me to discover the hot mess that is Author’s Solutions, Inc., and through that writer Victoria Strauss. She writes comprehensively and authoritatively, but she’s also very enjoyable to read, and I look forward to (maybe hopefully) interviewing her about what she’s learned and how she learned it.

This should cover all of the main bases of my paper, though I’m also planning a general survey to get majority opinions. I’m following everybody here on Twitter so maybe I’ll start tweeting at them to get responses, but at the same time I’m a little afraid of the idea because I don’t want to look silly or desperate. Also I have trouble with the length limit. How do I encapsulate what I’m working on, what I want to talk to them about and sell it in 130 characters?