Career Path

I’ve had a few questions on what I think about traditional publishing vs. indie publishing vs. self-publishing, what I’m planning on doing, what I think is sensible to do in this “new age of publishing” and so on.  Since I’ve had so many conversations about it, I thought I might as well spill it onto my blog.

First off, I want to say I am a huge fan of the hybrid approach to publishing. Instead of dissing one or the other, I prefer to see the pros and cons of each route and pick my path based on the project I have in mind, rather than sticking to just one or the other.

For example,

Short fiction. Route: Magazines, Anthologies, &c.

I don’t see the need to self-publish any of my short stories unless they’re tie-ins to a series or they happen to be a collection of previously published works.  I write short stories for practice, mostly because I’ve never excelled at them, but also because I want to get accustomed to trying my best, submitting, and getting rejected.  Those first rejections are always the hardest, but afterwards it’s like building up an immunity:  you can pick yourself up more easily and try again, knowing that it’s “just part of the process”.    I write short stories to learn and experiment–but also to toughen myself up so I can survive in a professional world.

(I should mention that I’ve decided not to pursue Writer’s of the Future contest.  Though it’s a great career-builder and it awards a lot of money, the idea of flying by myself to Hollywood and staying for a week-long intensive workshop just doesn’t appeal to me right now.  I’d much rather support healthy people’s attempts at winning the contest because I know they will enjoy it and it will be more beneficial to them.)

Novels. Route: Traditional agent + publisher.

After much thought, research, and consideration, I’ve decided to stick to submitting my first novels to traditional imprints, small and large, and  yes, I’ll also submit to agents.  I say this knowing full well what the consequences and risks are, but for the first four novels that I complete, I’ll be submitting along this route. Why? Well, my main reason is quality.  Though I’ve written extensively in the past twelve years, I have yet to complete and revise a full novel, and I want to be sure that a) it’s publishable, b) there’ll be a good team to help me, and c) I’m not deluding myself about its potential to capture hearts other than my own.  There’s also the issue of the money which I would have to fork out in advance were I to publish everything myself–and time. I’m a slow writer, especially with my illness, so slow publishing schedules aren’t a ball-and-chain for me.

I might as well list what those first four novels will be, since we’re on the topic.  The first two are set in the same world and function as an intertwining duology: The Witch’s Tower and God’s Arrows.  They each could stand alone or be read in any order, but I’d prefer them to be read and published in this order.  Publishers prefer standalone books from unpublished writers, so I took that into account when I designed their plots and overarching structure.  However, I lack confidence about Book One’s marketability. I haven’t seen anything like it on the shelves, ever, so we’ll see what happens.

The next book would be my historical mystery set in 1810 Strasbourg.  If I ever got a master’s in creative writing, this would be my thesis.  I’m currently gathering research for it, but the protagonist begs to be written, so I must answer her call sooner rather than later. Yes, she bumped her book further up the queue.

Then the last book on this path would be to finish Otherside, which starts a trilogy.  If Otherside is rejected by one and all, I would have to reevaluate my goals and decisions and where to go from there.  Until then, I’m going to keep my fingers out of the self-publication pool.  Time and experience gifted by writing these four will help me know what to do, I’m thinking.  But since no one has much success from a single self-published book, there’s really no point in trying anything but the traditional path until I’ve written more.

Literary Translation. Route: Self-publishing/Indie publishing.

Now here’s where I’m going to straddle the line.  Traditional publishers have very little to offer literary translators, especially in The States.  I know there are a few small presses that specialize in translated works, and of course there are university presses, but everything that is produced at these houses is expensive to buy and hard to find.  Thanks to the e-book this has the potential to change, and I don’t mind forking over time, effort, and money to create something that has yet to exist or to change some part of the world that I think is in dire need of a good fix.   I’m also a lot more confident in my ability to produce quality work here, or to put together a team to help me do so.  I don’t expect to make tons of money at it, since changing a culture is an up-hill battle, but I do believe that I can make it so “availability” and “price” are never an issue.  I intend to self-publish versions for e-book readers, offer print editions, and make copies available in various libraries.

My plan is to translate works dating from the 17th century onwards into the 19th Century.  I’d really like to translate fun, then-popular works that my heroine in my 1810 historical can refer to, and I’ll be taking her literary tastes as half of my guide on what to translate.   I already have a few things on my radar of what to translate next, including Persinette, the French version of Rapunzel.

- – -

(When my body decides to recover from its chronic illness, I’ll have to add a regular day-job to my career path, but I won’t go into those thoughts here.)


2 responses to “Career Path

  • Joe Vasicek

    All good points. Indie publishing takes a lot of mental energy, so it makes sense that you’d want to go with a publisher for that. I just hope you’re careful and don’t get ripped off, especially when it comes to ebook rights and reversion clauses. Good luck!

    • Laura

      I’m planning on negotiating for one book at a time, rather than do the “two, three-book deals” that I see a lot of authors doing. For one, this will help me control my own deadlines rather than be locked into their system forever after. And two, this means that if for some reason I can’t negotiate a good deal, it will only be for that one book, and I can try a different publisher on the next go-around or adjust my strategy for bullying a good contract the second go-around. *amused* So yeah, paying attention to e-book rights, reversion clauses, and also that pesky clause they like to sneak in about having to go to them first for whatever I write next…and a host of other clauses. Lots of clauses exist! But I think I’ll be better armed than a lot of other newbies out there.

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