Celebrate rejection!

I’m in the process of pitching three pieces (a cosy mystery, a children’s fiction and a non-fiction gift book) to various publishers and agents. I also hope to have a few short pieces ready to submit to various journals and publications in the near future. What does this mean? Well, I suspect that I’m going to see a heck of a lot of rejections. Time to celebrate! I learn a little something from each knock-back, and every one of them brings me a step closer to an acceptance.

So far I’ve received a total of 26 rejections. This has been over two years, and they are from a variety of sources, for six separate projects. This is pretty low in the scheme of things and is an indicator that I need to send more work out. To celebrate, I’m adding a widget to the front page – a counter to record the rejections of the work as they come in. I may even do some snazzy stats at the end of the year to really paint a picture. It’ll be a fun ride.

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Traditional vs Self Publishing

This is a rehash of a post from last year. I’m in the market for an agent and/or a publishing contract with a traditional publisher. Again, I’m being asked (and asking myself) “Why go traditional when you’ve had some success (albeit limited) with self publishing?”
I have a number of reasons for wanting to take the traditional path. The most significant reason for me is that it is an indicator of success and acceptance by the wider literary community. Yes, yes, I know that this is strictly a personal belief and my not having traditional publisher representation doesn’t mean that I’m not an author. It’s a personal goal.

My other reasons for wanting a traditional publisher (and these are probably more important than the personal achievement component) are access to an established distribution network and marketing expertise. (Yes I know that I’m still going to have to do the bulk of the marketing myself – its the distribution network I really want).

For me, the pros and cons of Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing are as follows:

SELF PUBLISHING

Pros

  • You have a 100% chance of being published (and that’s a very nice thing)
  • You can choose to publish only e-books, or print books or both
  • You can publish short stories, serials, novellas, novels – whatever takes your fancy
  • You’re in control of the entire process
  • You determine your timetable
  • You received a significantly larger proportion of the royalties than if you went through a traditional publisher (Anything from 30-70% compared to 5-10%)
  • You will learn a lot about the entire publishing process: from writing, to business set up, to printing, to marketing, to sales. This is an invaluable set of experiences (trust me)

Cons

  • You cover 100% of the cost
  • You take 100% of the risk
  • You’ll need to buy/pay for an honest opinion on the potential marketability of your book
  • You need to edit your manuscript very carefully and not rely on your Beta readers to do the work of a professional editor
  • You’re on your own in terms of marketing and distribution
  • It’s very difficult to get book sellers to stock your book/host book launches/host other promotional activities.
  • It’s very difficult to get people/professional organisations/journals/ and/or other publications of merit to review your book.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

Pros

  • You’re in this together.
  • You’ll not have to make a financial contribution to the process (if you do then you’re not in a traditional publishing contract – beware)
  • With any luck you will receive an advance (depends on the size of the publisher, type of book and your experience)
  • You’ll receive advice on selecting the best possible cover for your book
  • You’ll receive a professional opinion on the saleability and appeal of your writing
  • You’ll receive advice/services from a professional editor (again you will need to do work here – humans make mistakes no matter how good they are).
  • You’ll have access to people with experience marketing books, press releases, and working with areas of the media
  • You’ll have access to an established distribution network

Cons

  • You have a statistically low chance of obtaining a publisher (or even a literary agent) and therefore a low chance of actually being published
  • A traditional publisher is no guarantee of sales and/or success
  • You’re in a contract and will be expected to understand and comply with that contract
  • You need to give up some artistic freedoms to produce a product that fits with the publisher (Suck it up – they’re doing this to try and sell your book)
  • You need to fit in with their time frames and demands
  • You received a significantly smaller proportion of the royalties than if you were self published (about 5% but it varies)
  • Don’t expect an easy ride. You’ll still need to work hard to promote your own book!

Good luck! Strive to do what’s best for you and your writing project.

I am a writer and this is a proper job!

girl-1064658_1920I have read a number of articles & blog posts about writing not being considered to be an actual job. Last week during dinner with a friend, she made the comment that I was semi-retired (not fully retired as I do some paid work at a University). I was a little taken-aback but let it slide. After all I wanted to check the definition of “retirement” to ensure that I wouldn’t be speaking out of turn if I objected to the label. My assumption about the meaning of “retirement” was confirmed, with all definitions implying that it means “leaving the work force”. I was left feeling more than a little annoyed.

I have not left the work force! As a writer I expect that I never will (assuming that my capacity to write remains). My part time/casual work is to get some extra money in the door, and is not the only work I do. I object to the assumption that I’m doing nothing and am available whenever anyone wants a chat, someone to visit, someone to go out with. I’m very busy!

Here are my reasons for believing, no, make that knowing, that writing is a full time job, and is my career:

  1. I work everyday. And I mean every day – even if it’s only for an hour or two.
  2. My standard work day is about 6 hours long. When you consider that those working in office jobs spend a significant amount of time lunching, having tea/coffee breaks, chatting with colleagues, attending boring non-relevant meetings, I think that makes us even.
  3. I get paid. And I get paid regularly. It may not be much, but I get a cheque every three months from the distributer of my children’s book, a monthly payment from the bookstore where my book is stocked, and a payment from Amazon/Kindle at the end of every month.
  4. I’m published. You can google me/my titles.
  5. I’m considered to be an author/emerging writer (by industry definition).
  6. I participate in professional development courses related to my business.
  7. I belong to a writer’s group and various formal writing and publishing organisations and groups.
  8. I am listed as a writer/author/publisher on my tax return, legal documents and census details.
  9. I have a business plan (really I do), business card, business email, business website, an accounts system, an Australian Business registration number, and an EIN (US tax number).

I am in business. Writing is my job, my career and my passion.

So there!

I know that I sound like a bit of a stroppy cow, and in reality those who believe that I do nothing all day is limited to that particular friend, some distant acquaintences and my mother. I really believe that it’s important that we value work in any and all of the arts industries. Being a writer is more than a job, it’s a career and a way of life.

Perhaps some people are jealous that I (we) have taken the risk and are trying to make a living doing something we love.