The Path to Publication

 

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What does it take to get published? Does a writer try the traditional route or go Indie? And what is given up and or gained by choosing? It was a crossroad I faced after completing my children’s chapter book, Pink Sneakers in Space.

 

The most successful authors such as JK Rowling and Stephen King were unknown at one point. Ms. Rowling started writing her first book in about 1990 and didn’t get published until six years later. Stephen King’s first novel Carrie was rejected 30 times before it hit the bookstores. But they were lucky with traditional publication.

Traditional publishing has been around for centuries controlling what was printed and left many writers out in the cold. But self-publishing has also been around a long time too. Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Edgar Allan Poe self-published, and just think what would have been lost if they didn’t.

Getting something into print is not easy no matter the path chosen. If the author wants to go the traditional route, the manuscript must grab the attention of the targeted literary agent. Does this work? Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen often enough. The slush piles are high and maybe the agent is looking for something else.

I feel too much control of the author’s work is lost publishing traditionally. There is little to no say in the editing process or cover art. Is advances and prestige of proclaiming to having a literary agent worth it? Not sure.

However, with self-publishing, the author has a direct line to the publisher. No writing and sending the query letters. No disappointment when the rejections roll in. And the Indie Author has no time constraint on when the next book is ready for publication. You write when you want. But it’s a double edge sword. No book equals no sales.

One drawback with self-publication is editing. Every literary work needs it. Authors try to do it themselves and few are good at it. A writer will read and reread a WIP (Work-in-Progress) and not see all the grammatical errors or plot issues. Indie Authors need to pay for a good editor which can cost a lot. However, I find critique partners and using Grammarly works well.

Another thing to consider is the book cover. They are probably the most important thing about a book. It is what captures the attention of the reader as they skim Amazon or walk the aisles of a bookstore. If it isn’t compelling enough to make a reader pause, the book will sit. To me, having control with the cover is important. The story inside is mine, and I should have a say what’s on the outside.

There is a bottom line to business. With traditional publishing, the average percentage of sales that goes to the author is about 15%. They also give up the rights to their book. The literary agent gets their cut. The publishing house gets their cut. Of course, the author didn’t have to front any money, but exactly who is profiting on the creativity?

On the other side of the coin, the Indie Author receives 100% of the sales and holds all the book’s rights. This includes movie rights. It’s a long shot for a new author’s book to be made into a movie but think about the book, The Martian. The author Andrew Weir, self-published the story, but after selling 30,000 copies, it was noticed by the publishing world. Weir sold the rights for $100,000, and I hope he retained the movie rights.

Today, the traditional publishing world is trying to reinvent itself while holding onto its old ways and habits. The all-inclusive club that controls what the public reads has been threatened by the explosion of self-published books. Smashwords, Cafepress, and CreateSpace are a few tools used by Indie Authors populating Amazon and cutting into the traditional publications profits.

Traditional publishing houses are losing market share to Amazon. There has been a downward trend over the last few years, and because of this contracted authors are being offered less and less.

Indie Authors are expected to market their books and build a fan base. However, contracted authors are expected to do the same. Yes, all authors must have a social media presence. Yes, all authors need a website. But is the author ready to give up control of their hard work?

This was my dilemma. Do I try traditional publishing or go Indie? I weighed the pros and cons of each and decided becoming an Indie Author was best for me. It has taken me years to push the button, and I wanted control of my work. I’m not saying it’s an easy path, but it’s my own.

Saturday, October 8th is Indie Author Day. Please join me in supporting the mavericks of the publishing world by visiting,  <https://www.pinterest.com/kathrynrbiel/indie-book-day-2016/&gt;

What do you do when your character takes over?

As a writer, I sit down in front of my laptop and tap away. I usually have a clear idea where the story is going. Most of the time, the hardest thing I have to deal with is drinking my tea before it gets cold and keeping the cat off my keyboard.

But that was before Bobby. I’m writing my second book in the Pink Sneakers series, and I plotted for Princess Ally to be the heroine. It was in the back of my mind even as I wrote book 1, Pink SBobbyneakers in Space. But sometimes things don’t turn out as you plan.

Bobby the Blobarian tromps on the scene and takes over. He is an impish boy from Nebia IV who takes my words and rearranges them.  I have no say in the matter. Bobby is determined to meet the Earthling that defeated his dad in the video game, Cyber Ice and nothing will stop him from getting a pair of pink sneakers.

I’ve talked to some of my writer friends about this phenomenon and they laughed because it has happened to them too. Even with an outline, stories still have a way of running amuck and not turning out as planned. So what do you do? Absolutely nothing. One thing I’ve learned is you can’t stop your characters once they are set in motion. I never know where they’ll lead me. It’s what makes writing so exciting and addicting. Try it sometime. You’ll be surprised not every road leads down the expected path. Sometimes you end up in Oz.

An Interview with Marley

I pass through the white picket fence and take in the big backyard. The smell of freshly cut grass greets me as I walk across the lawn. Sun-kissed ripples glide across the pool. The jungle gym with the fort stands patiently. A tire suspended by a rope slowly swings back and forth from a thick oak limb.

The adventure started here. A once in a lifetime journey few can say they had experienced. Marley Perry had traveled into deep space after discovering a spaceship in her mom’s vegetable garden. The red-headed girl met danger at every turn and rescued the king and queen with the help of her new BFF.

There is a rustling of leaves above me. I look up and see a tiny figure with a mop of red corkscrew hair shimmying down the gnarly oak tree.

“Hi,” the voice drifts down from above.

I grin, not able to hide my amusement for the precocious firecracker. Marley jumps the last couple of feet and lands with a thud. She bends over and wipes the dust off her pink sneakers.

“Hi Marley,” I say, “I thought your parents told you to use the door when you want to go outside.”

Marley’s cheeks turn a lovely shade of pink and a fMarleyluster crosses her face. She gazes up at her second-floor bedroom window and her escape route, the gnarly oak tree. The corners of her mouth twitch up sheepishly. “I forgot.”

I dismiss Marley’s embarrassment and walk over to the patio. “I’d like to ask you a few questions. ‘Pink Sneakers in Space’ will be coming out in a couple of weeks, and I’m sure my readers would love to get to know you.”

“Okay.” Marley’s face brightens as she sits in a folding chair. A pitcher and glasses were on the table with a plate of cookies. “Mom made us snickerdoodles and lemonade.” The little girl leaned forward and poured two glasses.

“Thanks,” I say. “So, what’s your new friend’s name? What’s she like?”

“Ally,” Marley gushes, “and she’s a real princess. Ally is the best friend ever! I can tell her anything and she won’t tell anyone.”

“Every girl needs a BFF. But you’re not sad?  Your friend lives on Lovian, and you won’t see her again.”

“But I will see Ally again,” Marley says with excitement and bubbles, “She is coming to visit soon and going to spend the night.”

“Wow. I didn’t think your parents knew about your adventure.”

Marley cast her eyes downward, and she pushes a stray lock of red hair away.

“Marley, you didn’t tell your parents did you?”

“No. But I’m going to. I’m just waiting until I get married.”

My eyes narrow and I wonder maybe it would be best if Marley’s parents don’t know about her travels in space. But how will she hide her alien visitor, so I ask. “How are you going to explain Ally? Your parents will notice her brilliant blue hair.”

“I have a hat for Ally.”

I laugh. A hat for a disguise. I wonder how long it will take Marley’s parents to catch on. An airplane flies overhead. I look up and watch as the jet leaves a trail behind. I think about how brave Marley must have been to climb into the spaceship and fly to the outer reaches of the Milky Way and face danger with the Blobarians.

“Are the Blobarians as creepy as I hear?”

“Naw, not once you get use to them. I like iguanas and cats.”

“Iguanas and cats?”

“Yes, Blobarians are big and look like iguanas. They have long whiskers like my cat Boris too.”

What an odd combination, lizard people with whiskers. Interesting.

“Marley, is your homework done?” a voice drifts out the kitchen back door.

“Almost. I still have to do my spelling,” Marley answers her mom. “I have to go. Ally is supposed to be here soon. Why don’t I text you when she’s here and you could interview her too.”

“That would be great. Thanks.”

Marley gets up and gives me a hug. “See you soon,” Marley says.

I get up and take one last look at the vegetable garden as I leave. Someone had filled in the hole created by Princess Ally’s spaceship. The tomatoes on the vine were red and ready to be picked. What an adventure. I’m almost envious, though I doubt I would have had the courage to get in a spaceship and travel beyond the stars.