The ladies of RAD are back with the third installment of “Writer’s On…”!
Do you have questions about publishing? Do you find yourself confused as to the many options out there? Well, you’re in for a treat. Our fabulous authors are back, chatting about the publishing world.
Last week, RAD Writing got four authors together on Facebook to have a little chat about publishing, the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing, and why it’s important that you have someone backing you, as a writer.
Read on to find out how novelists are like musicians, why you should always backup your work, and why publishing is important—whether you realize it or not.
Writers On… Publishing
Rani Divine: Just got home! Starting up my laptop... I made it before 4:00, even! Technically.
CD Yensen: Yay!
Tammy Boehm: My clock says 5:58. Neener!
Rani: Boooo I forgot about the other time zone! Whenever you guys are ready, I'm good to go. Still catching my breath though, so take your time.
Tammy: I'm here—I keep typing beer. Lol
Rani: Ha! You're beer? That feels like bad English...
MJ Neal: A Freudian slip-type perhaps? :)
Tammy: Perhaps—or iPhone challenged
Rani: I myself will be having a beer in a couple hours, with a slice of pizza.
MJ: Mmmm... Pizza
CD: Aaww! I can't have both!
Tammy: I must despise you now.—quote from Willow
Rani: Haha!! I have an excuse for pizza and beer, for once. It's Dad's birthday, and it's what he wanted. So, ha!
CD: Yes! Good man. Of course, I don't think you ever really need a reason for pizza and beer.... If you do, then all of Football season, FIFA season....
Rani: It's true. Any excuse can do. Like, hey, it's Thursday!
CD: Exactly! If the day ends in "y", have beer and pizza.
MJ: You ought to needlepoint that on a pillow, CD. :)
Rani: That would be such a good college pillow
CD: LOL my next project MJ! I am about to go back into college, so....
Rani: Perfect timing!
Rani: Are we all here/ready to start?
CD: I am.
Rani: Awesome! So, to get the ball rolling! First of all, do you have a novel published, and where/how?
CD: No, not yet :(
Rani: But you will! I'm determined.
CD: Hahaha! Thanks!
Rani: Of course! I love your writing! I have a few books out, personally, one self-published (and about to be pulled from the shelves) and three traditionally published.
Tammy: An oldie through Eloquent in 2008. It was a non-event though.
MJ: Complicated for me. My novel was published, but the company is now dissolved with its CEO in prison for fraud so.... I suppose ipso facto it's become a self-published work. I still have lots of copies I can distribute, but not the means to print more.
Tammy: MJ, my heart goes out to you.
Rani: I know, I still get hot and bothered over all that.
CD: Rani, the book that you are pulling from the shelves, will that be republished and redistributed? MJ, I am sorry!
Rani: Hopefully, yes, but it'll be a while. I'm getting the Druid Novels out first, and then I have a really cool sci-fi series that's already done and ready to go.
CD: Oh wow, okay! Well, I am glad that it is not gone forever!
MJ: Yes I was curious about that as well. Hopefully Telekinetic can re-emerge?
Rani: I'm hoping so! It's a fun story, just needs some help. The second book is a chaotic mess. Haha! MJ, do you have plans for what you're going to do next with Dreamer?
MJ: I'm still riding the fence. I really hate the idea of leaving off without publishing the sequel, but publishing a second book when the first is kind of out of print seems impossible. I could self-publish the sequel, but I don't think I can afford it. Most of my discretionary writing fund went to my last publisher.
CD: Oh that is so bad!
Rani: Yeah, that makes sense. That's similar to what happened initially with Telekinetic, in that I spent all my writing fund on it and then nothing happened. I haven't even really gotten enough sales to warrant the sequel yet.
MJ: It's really frustrating. I have a couple of people waiting for the sequel, but I feel pretty stuck. We're talking a project 10 years in the making. Ugh!
Rani: Ahh! That makes it so much worse, when it's something you've spent that much time on.
MJ: Agreed. It comes back to the personal/business dichotomy of writing.
Rani: Wow it took my brain far longer than it should've to properly read dichotomy. But yeah, you're right. It's hard to make that line between personal and business.
CD: Yes. That is just rough. Do you have any other books in the making, MJ?
MJ: I have two projects that I've made a lot of progress on. One is steampunk and the other is modern day science fiction :)
Rani: I really want to read that steampunk one!
MJ: I'll query you with it, Rani ;)
Rani: Yay! I look forward to it!
CD: My reading list seems to never get shorter, only longer...
Rani: Do reading lists ever get any shorter? Haha! What do you guys think of the varying publication methods that are out there these days? (traditional, self, or even vanity)
CD: Can you explain vanity? Obviously, I am new at this.... haha
Rani: Vanity presses are presses where you pay them a bunch of money and they'll publish your book for you. In a nutshell. But it'll look like it's traditionally published, rather than self.
CD: Oh, okay.
Tammy: But you still have to do a lot of legwork.
MJ: I think it's both easier and harder to get published these days. On the one hand anyone who wants to write and has the funds could blog/publish a book (vanity/self-publishing), but all that competition makes for a lot of white noise (often low quality) which makes it so much harder to stand out and become traditionally published. My personal experience with vanity/self-publishing has not been good in any sense, though I have heard of success stories from others
Tammy: True MJ.
CD: Yes, I agree.
Rani: I feel the same. There are a lot of authors out there who self/vanity publish, so it's hard to be seen if you go that route. And I've had zero good experiences with it, but at the same time, I have heard several success stories. CD, as a writer who hasn't been published yet, what are your thoughts on it?
CD: For me, I am very confused by the whole process. It is so overwhelming, then dealing with the publishers is scary in its own right, and trying to even finish a novel and get it to the level that I want it to be, and have the perfect finish, and middle, it is scary. I wonder if that played a part in me taking so long on the story itself. Also, when it’s done, it is done. I will no longer have my fun little world to play in.
Rani: Yeah, I could definitely see that happening. It's insanely confusing these days. I was terrified when I published Telekinetic!
CD: Yes, and that fear of complete rejection!
Rani: And then, for me, to have it released and have people point out errors that I knew were in there but hadn't had time to fix... that was horrible.
MJ: Yes! My publisher did an abhorrent job editing, and now I feel really disappointed by the finished product.
CD: Right. I think that when it is said and done, this will be my last "novel." First, and last.
Rani: I wouldn't blame you in the slightest.
CD: That is horrible, MJ. Not only did they butcher your baby, but they were fake in the end.
MJ: Yep, I'm having a lot of trouble moving on. I feel like I need to "rub some dirt in it" and just accept it as part of learning how to publish, but boy does it sting! Also, fear of rejection is huge! Both from a publisher initially and from potential readers. I wrestle that a lot.
Rani: I seriously sometimes pretend Telekinetic doesn't exist, I've gotten so much negative feedback from it.
CD: It really wasn't a bad story, Rani. I mean, sure it moved super fast, but the story itself was not bad.
Rani: Thanks, CD—I really appreciate it.
Tammy: See, as an editor, when I'm handling someone's work I want the finished thing to be amazing.
Rani: Same here, Tam!
Rani: When I'm working on someone else's baby, I do everything in my power to make sure it's as close to perfect as possible. Since nothing in this world is perfect (which is hard to deal with on its own, sometimes).
CD: I can see that, Rani and Tammy. I think that you have a tendency to keep the content what the author had in mind.
Rani: Yeah, we definitely do. Basically, when I edit, all I'm doing is polishing what you already have. I'm not modifying, I'm bettering. Cleaning.
MJ: Writers need good editors. We ought to be partnering to produce a fantastic story, not competing enemies
CD: I agree.
Rani: Totally agreed!
Tammy: Yes—if there is what I feel a spot where a rewrite needs to happen it goes back to the author for the rewrite.
Rani: Same here. I never rewrite, I send it back to the author and let them know where I think needs fixing. So, do you think it’s important for authors to get published?
Tammy: I believe if we have a story to tell then we should be published or at least we should try.
CD: Yes, it is important. If no one were published, we would not have literature. What would people read?
Rani: That's a really good way of looking at it, CD. I have literally never heard anyone else make that statement.
Tammy: I agree.
MJ: I agree. The medium might be different for everyone. Some blog professionally or podcast or what have you. But as an old fashioned storyteller, it would be hard to impact others with writing unless it were published.
Rani: Really, that's the perfect way to look at it. There needs to be literature out there.
CD: Yes, it is the foundation for literacy. Even fiction stories serve a purpose.
Rani: There's a lot that's only ever said through fiction, it's true.
MJ: Rani, absolutely!
Rani: A ton of the commentary that's made on reality can only be made through fiction. Which is one of the reasons why I have so much fun with it, personally.
Tammy: And much of science fiction becomes reality.
MJ: Much like music, fiction expresses that which it doesn't seem like there are no "proper" words for.
Rani: Exactly! That's a great way of putting it. And I love how Star Trek gadgets are becoming reality haha
CD: The alien technology from War of the Worlds....
Rani: I'm waiting for some of the tech from Ender's Game to get here.
Rani: Why do you guys think so many authors end up defaulting to self-publishing?
CD: Fear of rejection. If you self-publish, you are guaranteed a book, no matter the quality (50 Shades of Grey)
MJ: Either fear of or experience with rejection (lots and lots of "no" letters). But also because some people are unwilling to edit or change their work. I know many self-published authors that were so convinced that they had written gold that they refused to make changes that might have put them in a better light as far as traditional publishers were concerned.
Rani: Fear of rejection and not wanting to hand my book to someone else for editing was definitely a big part of why Telekinetic was self-published. When I was working on that one, I was positive that it was perfect. And then… it wasn’t. At all.
CD: But, your writing has grown a lot since then, too.
Rani: Thanks, CD!!
CD: It was a learning experience.
MJ: Well, we all have moments like that. :) It's hard to find the line between "I'm brilliant!!” and "This is garbage..."
Rani: At midnight everything is amazing. At 10:00 in the morning... not so much.
MJ: A little perspective is healthy, but we only grow when we try, I think.
Tammy: That whole blood on the page thing.
Rani: I agree, and a lot of authors don't want to see that blood on the page, they don't want to hear that their work isn't the best thing since sliced bread.
CD: LOL. True Rani!
Tammy: Even bread benefits from proper packaging.
Rani: Ha! It does. If you put it in a burlap sack, you'd never know it was in there. A recipe for moldy bread, right there.
MJ: Great analogy, Tammy!
Rani: So then, do you guys think authors steer clear of traditional publishing primarily because of the fear barrier?
Tammy: Yes, it's a mix of fear and ego.
Rani: Feago! I've made a new word.
MJ: Feago! I love it! I think people also sense that the publishing world is changing. It's not quite so formal as it used to be, and we as millennials love breaking the rules. haha
Rani: Boy don't we!
CD: Feago.... haha
MJ: The issue then becomes how do we adapt without becoming vain and throwing all sense of quality to the wind.
Rani: And a lot of millennials like to not have to pay for things... cue Createspace.
Tammy: I think partnerships help: author editor pairing.
CD: Having an Editor is key
Rani: Definitely agree. What I wouldn't give to have had a proper editor when Telekinetic came out!
Tammy: Me too. I got shafted with Bethany’s Crossing.
MJ: Seriously, though.
CD: I think I need the editor. I am not a "writer."
Rani: But you are a great storyteller, which is a very good start.
CD: I write for fun, so all of the actual rules are lost on me.... I know I make lots of mistakes.
Rani: I've never read anything of yours and not immediately loved the story behind it, CD.
MJ: There are hundreds of books on editing, but there's a tremendous amount of skill we gain by simply reading a ton and writing.
Rani: MJ, you're right, reading and writing and reading and writing and reading and writing are the best way to get better.
Tammy: I see novelists as musicians who record. They need sound engineers
Rani: Ohhh Tam, that's a great analogy!
CD: That is good, Tammy! Obviously, I've never taken a writing class. haha
Tammy: And truly some storytellers are not engineers—they benefit from the synergy of a friendly edit
MJ: Tammy, that is a fantastic way of putting it. I gotta write that one down!
Rani: I'd never even heard of writing classes, when I wrote Telekinetic and Telepathic.
CD: Really? I thought you wrote those in College. Or after college?
MJ: I earned a Creative Writing degree in college and really don't feel like it helped me as much as simple reading and writing.
Rani: First year in college, going for a psych degree, yeah. Writing wasn't remotely on my horizon. I did the same as MJ, though. I ended up with a creative writing degree, but I've learned so much more just by reading and continuing to write.
CD: Wow, really? I thought of taking a class, but, maybe I won't.
Rani: Honestly, the first edit on Coetir taught me a ton. Courtesy, Tammy! I do try to teach my authors a little bit about craft, if they need it, while I'm editing. Tam does the same.
MJ: It's not that the classes are unhelpful, but college writing is really catering to modern short stories.
CD: Oh okay. I am considering short stories and novellas later on
Tammy: I love to help writers—I want to be the person I needed when I was struggling with my book baby.
MJ: Tammy, I agree. I always want to be for others what I wish I had
Rani: CD, if you're wanting to focus on short stories, definitely try out a class. They're great for short stories, but it's not really what MJ and I primarily write.
CD: Right, I think I need to finish my book first and see how I feel at the end. Rani, you have been writing since you were like 12... haha
Rani: It really helps to finish it, to figure out where to go from there. I legitimately forgot I used to write, because I lost it all to a hard drive failure.
MJ: Ooohh I've been there, Rani. It's a horrid feeling!
CD: I used to read all of the stuff you put online!
Rani: Worst day of my life.
CD: Yes, I would cry if I lost my stuff
Rani: I did. For years. Always back up your work!
Rani: So, I'm going to have to head out for that pizza and beer, but do you guys have any final thoughts, anything you think authors should be aware of when looking at where to publish?
CD: A publisher and editor should work for you, not against you! Or with you, rather.
MJ: Do your research! So much of what I went through with my publisher could have been avoided if I had taken the time to really look into their company reputation. In other words, don't settle for the first thing that comes your way if it truly won't be in the best interest of you or your book.
Rani: Very good advice, MJ!
CD: I like that. Don't settle.
Rani: I would say that not every book needs traditional publication, either. Some will actually do better with self. But don't push it into the first option that you come by. Go with the one that you think is actually going to be best for your book.
Tammy: And read and write and write and read some more. And be patient with the process.
Rani: Patience. Always. I need more of that. haha
CD: Me. too.
Tammy: That's why I write poetry—instant gratification.
Rani: haha! I short story for that sometimes. Thank you ladies for another great discussion!
Tammy: It was! Thank you!
CD: Always a pleasure! I look forward to these!
Rani: I do too! You guys are a lot of fun to chat with! Have a fabulous evening, all of you!
CD: Yes! Have a great night! Thanks Rani Rain for putting this together... again
Rani: Rani Rain... I foresee a new nickname.
CD: haha! Autocorrect.
Tammy: Peace all!
MJ: Good night all! :)
Special thanks to Rani Divine for moderating this discussion, and Tammy Boehm, MJ Neal, and CD Yensen for participating!
If you enjoyed this discussion, be sure to check out our other “Writers On” posts!