Foolish Game

Full disclosure here, but you’ll want to know this now before you get too invested:

I’m an idiot.

Not your standard “drooling on yourself,” “American Idol voter” idiot. No, I’m a traditionalist idiot.

I say this because that’s the only explanation I have when people ask me why the book I wrote isn’t on Kindle. That’s the way of things today, right? Amanda Hocking? Write a novel, post it to Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s sites, hit the market with the right idea at the right time, gather in a few million sales, then get picked up for dead-tree-book distribution and book tours from the major publishing houses. Everyone knows that’s the way the market is heading now, so why have I resisted jumping on the bandwagon to the future? Why have I resisted at least giving myself a shot at building some sales and a reputation?

Well, like I said, I’m an idiot. Big name writers whom I respect still warn against the New Model of publishing, pointing out correctly that for every Amanda Hocking, there are 100,000 also-rans who never sell to anyone other than their close friends and family. Go the self-publishing e-book route and you remove your book from consideration by major publishers and agents UNLESS you happen to strike it big on your own. Start out with the traditional publisher’s and agents’ slushpiles, push the convention networking angle, bide your time and grit your teeth for rejection, well, you’re at least up for consideration. And if it doesn’t work that way, you can still try out Amazon on your own afterward. Just not the other way around.

So, if I finished my book in 2011 and insisted on the traditional route, why am I still in it? It’s been two years! Surely I should be working up a Kindle or Nook edition now! Well, no. Again, because I’m an idiot. The publishing houses want exclusivity while they are waiting to reject your book, on the off chance that if they want it, another publisher hasn’t swooped in and bought it out from under them, thus wasting all the time they put in on it. So, none of what they refer to as “simultaneous submissions.”

And that’s where I’ve been for the last two years. A Sword Into Darkness has been languishing in the Baen Books slushpile for two years, not even looked at by an editor to be formally rejected, much less chosen. I’m not angry at Baen for that. They can’t help the size of their slushpile or the staff they have to go throught it. It would still make me ecstatic to be picked up by them. It’s just the nature of the game as they have set it up.

Well, I’m an idiot, but I’m not a damned fool.

Just prior to publishing this blog — and one of the reasons for its existence — is that I received an invitation to formally go with the New Model under the direction of some writers/mentors that have received significant rewards and sales by that route. I’m still weighing whether or not to totally go with that plan immediately, but I have decided to no longer play totally by the rules. So, last week, I made formal submissions to all the main publishing houses that are open to submissions without an agent (excluding Baen, who already has a copy in their pile). Between paper copies of the whole manuscript, submissions with just the first three chapters you see here, and electronic copies, four of the Big Six publishers have my book, along with an additional mid-list publisher. Five submissions which I will give about six months to respond. If they all reject it or just keep me waiting with no answer, I’ll go the New Model route. And, in between that time, I’ll work on getting an agent, publishing more shorts, writing Echomancer, as well as some other SECRET PROJECTS.

So, wish me luck, and don’t be surprised if you see my book for sale — in some format at least — by the end of the year.

3 thoughts on “Foolish Game

  1. About damned time, you dunce. I’ve been telling you this for, what, two years now? Time to leave the monolithic publishing dinosaurs behind for the new paradigm. You have plenty of books in you to send to them later, you do not, however, have an infinite lifespan to waste waiting for them to ‘get around’ to you.

    As a bonus, electronic sales, having a low production cost (read: nil) can be sold much cheaper than hardcopy. This means that you will get a lot of little ‘impulse’ sales amongst a wider swathe of humanity than mere dead tree copies could ever achieve without you’re becoming the next J.K. Rowling.

    As an example, I released Barbarians of the Aftermath in 2009 electronically first. It was picked up for dead tree publication 3 months later. I’ve made way more money on the electronic versions since then. I still get about $150 in sales every month or two, almost 4 years later. My royalties from the hardback? Nada, because I’m still trying to sell enough of those to cover the print costs, and at $45 a book, that is a tough sale for the cash-strapped nerd market (despite the fact that they willget way more use out of that book than the average novel)…

    • Now, now. Let’s keep this civil. I’m an idiot, NOT a “dunce”.

      And I’m not abandoning the traditional publication route. I’m just no longer abiding by the no-simultaneous-submissions rule, as well as putting a limit on how long I’m going to wait for an answer. If I give every publisher a year to let things languish, I’ll have to use my Amazon check to supplement my Social Security.

      I’ve expressed this before: I won’t feel like a published author until I see the spine of one of my books on a bookstore shelf, nestled just behind Julian May and right before Anne McCaffrey. Now, should I get good enough ebook sales to make a list somewhere, I might reconsider that, but — for me — traditional publication and all that goes with it still equals real publication.

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