Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Mailbox ~ Why Would You...






It's Monday and time to answer your questions.

Why would you stop being a traditionally published author and just do self-publishing? Isn't it cutting off your nose to spite your face? CM

My response was this and I've said it over and over again in this blog...

Dear CM,

For years my husband has been terminal with cancer. He's outlived every projected time frame for his demise. At the time I had a tentative contract with a subsidiary of a Big 6 publisher. I had a job in my own consulting firm, teaching culinary arts part-time, part time as a traveling minister, and writing. It was old hat to me, my writing life had always been a thing I wanted to do because I enjoyed it. Yeah I've always been an type-A overachiever.

I'd always dreamed of writing fact based fiction and dabbled at it in between contracts for nonfiction. In short after my husband had two heart attacks and a stroke in six months, and two months later was diagnosed with cancer, I ended up returning my partial advance and canceling my contract with the publisher. I just couldn't do a book written at this time in my life. There was just too much turmoil. I ended up telling my partners in my firm to buy me out of the business. See I'm an overachiever that recognizes my limitations.

After a seven year hiatus from publishing, I toyed with the idea of publishing again. During my hiatus I wrote four novels. I contacted my agents and was told that they didn't handle what I wrote. I'd have to search for another agent.

I searched for three years getting rejection letter after rejection letter. I'd been away from the business for seven years and things had changed in the business like author promotion except for reviews was now handled by the author and you needed a platform. I was also breaking into a new field of writing...fiction which is a harder sell. Although I had a proven record of sales in nonfiction, I was basically as the bottom of the slush piles of agents. It was a position I had no experience in. So I didn't really rejected my agents or publishers. They rejected me.

I also knew I couldn't leave my husband to traipse off hither and yon to go to this or that book signing, conference, or television show. I was stuck. At the time email and snail mail were big for promotion. MySpace was in its infancy but gaining ground. Self publishing was losing its vanity press stigma. E-books was still a new thing with a 10% of the reading market. I let the fact that I couldn't sell my fiction stew and fester. I decided to continue learning the craft of fiction writing. I'm still learning.

Enter FaceBook, twitter, and Google + to open up new avenues to promote self published fiction. They were to tools I needed to put myself out there without leaving home. I already was blogging and had a website which was the very basic tools I needed. I took college course that were up to date on web enhanced promotion and marketing. I read everything written on the subjects of web marketing and platform building.

Yes, I still plan on continuing a hybrid relationship between self publishing and traditional. Why cut off my nose to spite my face. I can have both butter and jam on my bread if I want to. The market is changing again from the big market to novellas and shorts versus saga type reads. Indie authors are making the best sellers lists by the handfuls, and the distinction between traditionally published versus indie published are crumbling. And no, I do not think traditional publishing is dying. It's just going through an identity crisis, and slowly listening to authors and readers. But the fact is, my husband is still living and I am still his caregiver. That is my priority.

Why would you pass up traditional publishing your manuscript?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

15 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know a lot of authors who do both!
Praises that your husband is still with you and you are able to care for him.

J.L. Murphey said...

Alex, I know many that do both also and pray God that I might do it again. Yes hubby dearest is still with me. It is not without some hardships but well worth them.

Zan Marie said...

Good for you, Jo! You just keep doing whatever it takes.

S.P. Bowers said...

Personally I think we're lucky to have the options and be able to choose what's best for us.

Nick Wilford said...

Yeah, it's not a case of one or the other, though self-publishing allows ultimate flexibility. It's definitely an exciting time to be an author.

Lara said...

Good for you for taking advantage of all your options!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Your story gives me hope, as my dad was recently given up to five years to live, but only one of those with quality of life. He's been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig's). It will be rocky no matter what, but any story about beating those odds and defying the time frames is a positive one in my book, even though it will mean longer taking care of him. I hope you and your husband get plenty of quality time together, and I wish you good luck with future publishing endeavors.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

J.L. Murphey said...

Zan Marie, Always!

J.L. Murphey said...

Once upon a time we didn't. Now we do.

J.L. Murphey said...

Yes it is Nick.

J.L. Murphey said...

As an author these days you have to think outside the box.

J.L. Murphey said...

Shannon, If I've given you hope then I have done the right blog. Being a minister I find the biggest lament at the time of death or near death is time. Time spent with loved ones should always be cherished. It doesn't matter if it's one second, minute, hours or days. We don't live our lives in waste of what might have been. You always hear quality over quantity. Now, I'm lucky to have both.

Deniz Bevan said...

Thanks for sharing Jo! With each passing year self-publishing becomes more viable - I think it's becoming a serious option for all writers to consider.

J.L. Murphey said...

Granted you do all the work in promotion with big 6 publishers too, but you don't have as many avenues of distribution with self publishing. But times are changing.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I've been thinking of that, and though the next few years will be hard, I am so grateful we got the chance to know and spend quality time together. Not just quantity.

Thank you again.