Monday, September 12, 2011

Writing in the Slow Lane

It's 8:00am, and you're sitting in traffic. Again. To make matters worse, the car is overheating. You have the windows down and the fan blowing hot air out at you, but it's not doing any good. The temperature gauge just keeps going up and up. You turn the car off  in frustration. It doesn't matter; the traffic is at a standstill, anyway. Going nowhere. If only there weren't so many people all trying to go in the same direction as you... All these people travelling the highway of traditional publishing. The highway to being a published author. Hopefully, a rich and famous one.

You sigh and look wistfully over at the commute lane. You know, the lane that requires at least an agent as a passenger. Or a publisher. Or, even better, both. The cars in the commute lane just keep whizzing past. There goes Samantha Sotto in her Before Ever After VW van, and there goes Michelle Davidson Argyle in her little yellow Monarch beetle. And Michael Offutt is just pulling over into the commute lane with his new publisher. Those writers are getting somewhere, but you... you're stuck here in traffic with all of the other "aspirers." Just sitting in place waiting for some kind of movement.

You take the time to look around. Maybe you can sneak into the commute lane and make some headway, but, no, there's a publication cop just up ahead. You smack on the horn a few times, but it doesn't make you feel better, not really, and no one pays attention. You spy an exit up ahead, but, crap, it's one of those toll roads for a vanity publisher. Off in the distance, you see the self-publishing highway. There are some cars over there; they're moving slowly ahead, but, at least, they're moving. That has to be better than just inching along where you are. Right? Right?

You look for an exit before you realize there are no exits to the highway of self-publishing. That's a road you have to find for yourself. Yeah, there are some paths from some of the more adventurous, even some signs, and, way in the distance, you can see that there are some construction crews (like CreateSpace) working on some entrances to that other highway. But there are no exits from the one you're on. And the publication cops... well, they're waving people back and telling them it's unsafe to go that way. Uncharted. Dangerous.

What do you do? Stay the course? Inch forward? Hope to pick up a hitchhiking agent? There aren't many out there, and they seem to be really picky about what kind of cars they'll get into. And here's your car, overheating. Oh, it looks okay from the outside, but, really, when an agent takes a look in the window, will she really want to get in? You have already been turned down by several. And there's that road off in the distance. The other one. The one the publishers wish you couldn't see. What do you do?

heh heh I feel a "choose your own adventure" calling my name.
A. I stay on  the traditional publishing highway and hope for the best.
B. I dodge the publication police and head off road hoping I can find my way onto the self-publishing highway.
C. Well, I don't really have a C, but you should have one, so: I fork over tons of money to get on the vanity publisher toll road and never make any of it back.

Seriously, though, doesn't it feel like this sometimes? Like you're just sitting and nothing is happening. You're trying to move forward, but you're just not getting anywhere. Of course, the first obstacle is getting a manuscript written. You're not even on the highway until you've done that, you're just driving down the service road in envy. It's all hard, though, and the service road isn't a bad place to be. There aren't any fingers being pointed.

Anyway... I chose this particular example, because most people are still looking to traditional publishing. At least, the vast majority of the blogs I see are all talking about how to go the traditional publishing route. That's not me, of course, but it's still most people.

And I can still see onto the traditional publishing highway. I can see how zippy the people in the commute lane are, and, sometimes, it just feels SO slow over here. Almost like I'm having to get out and push my car along. And all I want is for things to just go a little faster. You know, doing that butt thing that kids do when they're trying to get their toy vehicles to move faster, but all they're really doing is causing them to rock back-and-forth.

All of this so I can say how different the experience is with this edition of The House on the Corner as opposed to the first edition (the one with no cover art). The first time through, I sold no copies by hand. It was all online and not many at that, but I didn't push it very hard, because I knew I was working on one with cover art (yea! Rusty Webb). This time, though, I'm having requests for copies from people that know me, and I already sold all of the copies I ordered initially, which surprised me, even though it wasn't very many. I've had to order more, and some of those are spoken for, so I'll probably have to order more, again, before this book signing event at the end of the month. But the e-copies aren't moving at all. That I find really surprising, especially since the previous price of my e-copy was $9.99 (yeah, it was too much, but I didn't know better, yet) as opposed to the current $2.99.

And all I want is for things to just go a little faster. But it takes a lot of work, and that part is slow. And a lot of perseverance, and that part is hard. Harder, even, than writing a book, which is hard enough. And reviews. It takes reviews. So, here I am, mentioning them, again, and saying how I'm going to do a post dedicated to the importance of reviews. And I am! It's coming soon. I promise. As I'm finding out, reviews are the most important thing! Along with how good cover art is the most important thing! And how writing a good book is the most important thing! The problem is that there really aren't any unimportant things. But, you know, since I've written a good book, and I have good (great) cover art, the next thing to deal with is getting some reviews. Then, maybe, things will move faster. Even if just a little.

Oh! and I almost forgot, I've tweaked the Brother's Keeper tab. It no longer contains the first chapter of the book but the prelude instead. No, it's not a prologue. It's more like an extended quotation that would go with the first chapter, but, because it is a little story in and of itself, I'm, for the moment, calling it a prelude.

I've also added a new tab: Tiberius. This has the first little story about Tib and will be the chapter one of this project. There's also a back story piece that I'm preparing as a separate publication as the audience isn't quite the same. Tiberius will be kid accessible (like The House on the Corner), but the short story that sets it up is most definitely not meant for kids. Look for that soon; it's called The Evil That Men Do.


  1. An original take on the hopes and fears that we all have. Glad to hear the print copies are selling well.

  2. I knew there was a reason writing makes me's because we're stuck in traffic, and I loathe traffic! Thanks for putting it into perspective, Andrew. Someday we'll be in the carpool lane! :D

  3. Sarah P: Thanks! It's kind of weird to have people coming up to me and asking to buy it, but it's a good weird.

    J: Yeah, traffic sucks! I'm just, like, "go! go! stop sitting around and drive the car already!"

  4. It does feel exactly like that some days, yes. Still, I wave and smile as they go by, hoping it will be me some day in the HOV lane.

  5. I love the analogy. After spending years broken down on the service road, I finally decided to go the self-publishing route myself.

    If I'm going to be doing the marketing work in any case, why shouldn't I be getting the profits, right?

    Congratulations on selling the print copies. Kind of a trip isn't it?

  6. That's a really great metaphor, Andrew! I've been in the slow lane for so long that my knuckles are white and all I hear is my own background music. Sometimes I wonder why I don't just head home and park in my driveway! (is there an exit for that?) Oh yeah--there's all that time spent with nothing to show for it but a manuscript collecting dust.

  7. the way...The House on the Corner--That's a really scary cover...

  8. L.G.: I wave, but I decided to go off road.

    A.B.: I agree with you entirely. Why should a publisher make more of the money than me off of my work especially if I'm going to have to do -all- the work.

    jbchicoine: The driveway does seem an inviting place sometimes, but I couldn't deal with the thought of my book just laying around for years while trying to go the traditional route especially since I had people asking for it.

    The cover definitely brings the creep factor that I wanted!

  9. Andrew, I saw your comment over at Michael O's and it made me decide I had to come follow your blog.

    So here I am. Nice to meet you!

  10. Andrew, I know how you feel. You want to know the craziest thing of all? My little Monarch beetle? I think it's an illusion. I swear I'm moving at the same speed as some of those in the slow lane. I'm certainly not moving as fast as some of the other lanes I'm seeing, that's for sure!

    I'm doing a guest post on Anne R. Allen's blog this Sunday. You really should check it out. It's about this very thing, but a different viewpoint. Anyway, I think you're doing beautifully, and the best thing of all? You're moving faster than you think, and there's only one place to go from here - forward.


  11. Very well said. I love the analogy. Although I am still trying to complete at least one full manuscript I am still not sure which road I will take. Great Post as always Andrew.

  12. Oh goodness. Well said. I feel that way often, too. It's hard to know for certain what to do.

  13. The digital sales are are a mystery to me. I've heard some folks that are doing quite well say they sell more at $4.99 than $2.99, citing all sorts of reasons, but I think the whole thing is a big mystery... well, it's a mystery as to what gets it started - but if you sell enough copies then Amazon's recommend features take over and it supposedly becomes easy breezy.

  14. Hi Andrew, I'm a fellow Campaigner and just want to drop you a few lines and say hello. Your bio made me chuckle. "Getting married and having kids" have a way of getting in the way of things! I'm a late bloomer too as far as creative writing, but better late then never! I'm just starting on my first novel. Happy authoring!

  15. Michelle: Actually, I just mentioned you because I wanted to highlight you, not because I'm envious. The whole post was really about the analogy. Which is not to say that I don't wish I was moving a little faster, but I had to talk about something to make the point. And, you know, since I haven't been able to get your book, yet, I figured the least I could do would be to send some people your way.

    Jennifer: I'm sure you'll get there, and, from reading your blog, I'm sure it will be great :)

    Bess: Yes, sometimes it is. And overwhelming, too.

    Rusty: Well, the one thing I know for sure is that $9.99 was too high. Although I did have a couple of mystery sales at that price. Really, I think it comes down to reviews and exposure. Neither of which I'm really sure how to go about getting, yet.

    Gary: Welcome! Yes, that whole pesky "family" thing certainly gets in the way of a lot. But I wouldn't take it back.

  16. I didn't think you were envious. I just know how you feel, and thank you for mentioning me and my work! :)