Thursday, September 27, 2012

What does "Self Published" mean to you?

The debate over the legitimacy of self publishing is heated and very, very long. Some people argue the mainstream publishing industry is dying and that self publishing is squeezing the Big Six out of the market. Other's balk at the thought that self publishing will ever eclipse the stronghold these publishing powerhouses have over the industry.

I've read both sides of the debate many times over. One thing is clear – it's complicated. Regardless of what I read, and what side it's supporting, I'm left with a very important question. So I will ask you, my friends, this very same question. Because maybe someone, somewhere, might give me a definitive answer.

What constitutes self publishing?

Is it only those who publishing their own work via companies such as Smashwords and the like? Is it those who form a publishing co-op, providing services such as editing and cover design for each other, and then sharing the cost of publishing? Does it include authors like myself, who have been published by a small, independent publisher?

These questions arose for me mainly because of various articles I've read on the publishing phenomenon known as Fifty Shades of Grey. I know, I've stayed away from discussing this book, for the most part, and I intend to stay away from discussing the book itself. The only part that truly intrigues me is almost every article I've read describes the initial publication of FSOG completely differently. The dominance of this book over the NYT Best seller list, the fact that it was picked up by a major publishing house, and it's origins raise many questions for authors in a variety of areas.

But mainly, I'm curious about how the rising tide of changes in the publishing industry are reflected in this phenomenon. Some articles I've read referred to Fifty Shades as self published. Others called TWCS Publishing a "vanity house". A few made reference to it coming from a small independent publisher. This got me to thinking – what does "self published" really mean?  And I still haven't found an article that provides a clear answer.

I'll tell you what I think, though. Concerns over publishing fanfiction aside, posting fanfiction online is a work of self publishing. Yet, I consider TWCS Publishing an independent publisher and not a vanity press (as authors do not pay to have their book edited, produced, or published in any way by TWCS). Therefore, Fifty Shades falls into all three categories: self published as fanfiction, indie published by TCWS, and then picked up by Random House.

Maybe I'm biased, but I believe wholeheartedly that indie publishers are carving out their own niche in the publishing industry. They're creating a space for those books that have been passed over by agents mainly because, as the gatekeepers and voluntary filters of crap-writing, they're struggling to fit reading over 100 queries a day into their schedule. Indie publishers are providing an alternative platform for amazingly talented writers to get their stories out to readers. And they're giving readers the opportunity to find authors who would have otherwise remain unheard simply because the machine of the Big Six can only produce so much. But what indie publishing is not, is "self publishing".

I think traditional publishing is fantastic, I think self publishing is a valiant labor of love, and I think independent publishers are the Steve Jobs of the publishing world. Each path is a valid path (albeit challenging in different ways) to follow and I'm very excited to see where the industry goes these next ten years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What Makes a Writer?

Over in Writer-ville, there's a lot of posturing and "real" writers versus "wannabees" ego trips. It makes me sad. The kind of sad that makes me bake huge chocolate cakes and eat fettuccine alfredo. So sad that hurts my heart. Not because *I* feel like I am not a real writer, but because NO ONE should feel like they're not a real writer.

Anyone who writes simply because they enjoy the process is a writer. I see the most terrible "guidelines" for what makes a "real writer" thrown about. Proclamations like, "If you you have to write every day or you'll absolutely DIE, then you're a REAL writer." Or, even better, "A REAL writer cranks out a minimum of eight meeeeeellion words a day." And my very favorite, "If you only write XYZ, then you're not a REAL writer."

I write romance. In fact, it can possibly be classified as erotic romance, depending on your definition. I also write completely non-sex related articles as a journalist (okay, sometimes they're about sex, too). I ALSO write a weekly blog about sex. Okay, we've established I write about sex quite a bit. Anyway, that's not my point. My point is, even if you only read high concept literary fiction and you think romance is utter crap, it doesn't not negate the truth: I'm a writer. If you don't believe me, then my publishing contract and various paychecks for my writing kind of solidify the fact.

I cannot write every day. Caring for my family is my first priority. When that takes up the majority of my time, writing takes a back seat. Do I miss it? Of course! Do I wish hadn't fallen asleep at 8:30 last night and instead has spend an hour writing my new book? Absolutely. Does this personal striving for balance (and sleep) mean I'm not a real writer. No Way.

So, I challenge you, my friends, to stop investing in the writer-wars (which are like the mommy-wars, but with more paper). Let's celebrate each other; our successes and our failures, the bumps in the road and the shining star moments, our struggles and our achievements, no matter how big or small. Let's be writers and leave it at that, because, honestly, being a writer is hard enough all on it's own.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cover Reveal: Reaper's Novice by Cecilia Robert

Hi friends! I am so happy to share with you the gorgeous cover of Cecilia Robert's book Reaper's Novice (coming Dec 2012).

17- year- old Ana Maria Tei’s life has always been perfect: loving parents, good grades, and a

future so bright it outshone the sun. But now words like “separation” and “divorce” are sending her

world plummeting to hell. Determined to keep her family intact, Ana plans a family-bonding trip from

Vienna to Tuscany. Except fate has other plans. Ana’s parents and siblings are killed in a car accident

on their way to pick Ana up from school.

Enter Grim, aka Ernest. He promises to relinquish the four souls if Ana agrees to trade her soul

for theirs and serve a lifetime as his novice. In order for Ana to graduate from her Reaper’s Novice

station to a Soul Collector graduate, Grim puts her to test. To her horror, she finds out becoming a

Reaper’s Novice didn’t happen by chance. It was preordained, and she is forced to make a choice:

save her family’s souls or come to terms with who she really is and complete the task set for her.

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Rerelease December 5th 2012

Find out more on Goodreads and at Cecilia Robert's website.