Keeping with the slew of Hallowtide release announcements and excerpts, I wanted to give you guys some insight as to the release process, what it’s going to look like, and why I’m choosing to do what I’m doing.
On October 1, when Hallowtide officially drops online, it won’t be released through a traditional publisher. Right now, this is generally looked upon by those in the publishing/writing world as cheating. That it’s for hacks who couldn’t cut it the traditional route (querying agents and editors until someone takes a chance on your novel, getting polished, then presented–likely with little fanfare for a new author, and eventually, after releasing enough books, you might have one that finally breaks into the popular market).
And for the most part, this is accurate. Most people who go the traditional route do so because their writing is terrible, or because they have enough followers that they think they can sell without the backing of the traditional approach. These days though, many solid, established authors are switching to indie publishing because it’s easy, cheap, and affords writers a greater cut of the profits.
See, in this digital age, eBooks are consuming a huge chunk of the market, and they cost very little to make (it’s an e-file, there are no printing or shipping costs). The only real cost for publishers is for editing and marketing (and these days, with the internet, most authors are able to reach out to followers and maintain their fan-base themselves). And so, with the right price and royalty balance, many authors are making a killing in the digital market.
Digital and print-on demand publishing is the future of publishing. Print-on demand publishing is when the printer, instead of printing bulk orders for a publisher (which is a bit of a crapshoot, demanding guesswork on how much will sell), takes an order for a book, prints it, then ships it out to the reader immediately. Because it’s not bulk, the print costs are higher, but at the same time, if it cuts out the traditional publisher, per-book royalties are still significantly higher for the author. Kindles and eReaders are cropping up everywhere. Any way to get books into reader’s hands faster and more efficiently will be the future. Writers don’t need the big publishing houses in order to get their work out there.
Traditionally, the goal as a writer has been to “get published.” But this has become a loaded term. My goal as a writer is to get my work, good work, to readers and be able to live off of it. And in today’s changing market, this doesn’t need to carry the implications of traditional publishing.
So, in order to make a living off of my writing, there comes with it the added pressure of doing good work; of writing books that people want to buy and read. This means I can’t half-ass it. This calls for serious editing before publication. If I’m going to ask those fans I’ve already gathered to pay me for my work, it’s important to me that it’s not filled with spelling errors, grammatical problems, and sentences that get lost as they get longer.
While publishing houses carry the best editors for both development and copy-editing, I’m lucky enough to have a number of savvy editors on my side that have been doing a fantastic job with my book since the start of the summer.
Will it be absolutely as good as if I went through a traditional publishing house? Probably not. Years of experience will always yield better results, and I don’t pretend that I’m dictating God’s own perfect novel (well, actually, I do pretend that sometimes, but it keeps the crippling insecurities at bay). But the novel that I’m giving you will be the absolute best I can make it.
Publishing houses also get your books into bookstores. They generally do this by putting your book in a catalog, and the bookstores order a number of copies of the books in this catalog. Front of the catalog books are the rockstars, Stephen Kings and whatnot. Middle are solid. And back of the catalog are the books that aren’t being pushed, and probably won’t be ordered to be held in stores. As far as I can tell right now, I should be in this catalog by self-publishing as well. But in not having a big publishing house backer, I won’t be picked up for stores. You can order in stores, but it won’t be on the shelf. But this is the risk I run as a new author anyway. Unless I write the new Fifty Shades of Twilight, or whatever’s hot these days, I’m not likely to be front catalog at all. And middle could even be a stretch if the publishing house is wary about the book.
Because literature is subjective. As is the publishing process. What works for some people doesn’t work for others. When an editor takes a risk on a book and calls it up for publication, that’s one person’s opinion. Usually it’s solid and carries years of experience behind it and collaboration with other smart people. But the market is fickle, and hundreds of thousands of authors want to break through, many with incredible books, who don’t.
So I’m making this push for a new marketplace. Much the same as music ten years before, thanks to iTunes and the advent of digital music downloading, the music industry has given rise to thousands of indie bands trying to get their shot at stardom. The good ones rise, the bad ones sink. And then, after putting out their best work, sometimes big labels will pick them up and turn out something often even more solid. (Or, in many cases, the band can gain a significant following and then crowd-source an album, getting the best artistic minds to collaborate, cutting out the industry middleman entirely). Though many in industry are fantastic artists, there’s a misunderstanding that they are the only good artists in the business.
So, could I go the traditional route, take the novel that I have here on my computer, edited, polished, the best I have to offer, and begin to market it to agents, hoping that someone will take a chance on me? Absolutely. I know that eventually, it would get picked up and sell. I believe in the work.
But I want to be a part of the new movement. It’s not because I’m impatient.
Look, see? Here’s a picture of me being all patient-like.
It’s because I want to take advantage of my fan-base and the changing market. I want to take advantage of the internet, and be a part of something scary, something new, something that could crumble below me and make these seven years for naught.
I think I’ve got a book that’s a quality product. Now does that make me different than any of the other authors that are self publishing right now, who aren’t any good at it? No. We all think our books have what it takes. But what I do have is seven years of work, an artistic eye, technical skills, and the editing resources to make this a product that I’m proud of, that I think will compete in the market. Whether or not that is the case is up to you guys in two weeks.
And by then, I’ll have done everything I could to make this novel shine.
I think it does. This book has been with me for the past seven years. It exploded this past winter on a rewrite and came alive in a way that I never expected. Within, it does deeply harrowing work. It’s the story of a young man who travels to Hell by night in his dreams. But it’s also a beautiful work. It’s a love story at it’s most pure, and that love is below every word on every page, even when it seems to be as far away as it could be. But in the way that we know the night by knowing the day, even as the story is at its most dark, we only know it because of the depths of love just beyond that inky veil. I wanted the novel to capture this pairing, to move you, to make you think, and challenge you. I think it does. But will you?
The experience will be in your hands to start October. It will be available on Amazon in hardcopy for 16 dollars. It will also be available on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes for 2.99. If there’s demand and support, I might try to get an audio copy out by Christmas.
If you like it, that’s where the buck is passed to you. To write a review on Amazon. To have your friends buy a copy. To pirate an eCopy and try it out. To tell anyone you can. Start the conversation. Spread. Be a part of the future.
And then, if it’s good enough, we’ll see what happens.