Monday, December 13, 2010

Writers Write

What I'm reading: Spellbound, by Nora Roberts

First, if you missed yesterday's contest winner post, the winner of Rebecca York's contest is Maryann Miller. Congratulations to Maryann, and thanks to all for stopping by and leaving comments.

Updates and reminders. My 50% off coupon for When Danger Calls at Smashwords is still in effect. Don't miss the bargain price. Use coupon code ET46A at checkout.

In just a few weeks, it'll be a brand new year. We tend to look at January 1st as a 'clean slate' day—a time to promise to do better, to think about changes.

Sometimes these changes come from factors over which we have no control. Writing is a difficult business, and when you're starting out, you think that publication is the end of the road. Get that contract, get a book published, and you can call yourself an author, and then writing books becomes your business, not your dream.

However, having that signed contract isn't the end—not by a long shot. I write primarily for small presses, with relatively narrow target markets. While on the one hand, a small press can provide individual attention, there are some other pitfalls.

With a small staff, when something happens to one member of the company, things can come to a major slowdown. I have a contract for a pair of short stories that should have been released in an anthology over a year ago. Due to staffing circumstances, that book hasn't even reached the editing stage. In other cases, the "we'll have an answer for you in 3-4 weeks" stretches well beyond that time frame, because there just isn't enough staff to fill in when someone faces personal issues.

Two of my publishers are discontinuing the imprints where my books have lived. One is folding the imprint back into the parent company, but that still creates a dilemma. Do I leave my books there and see if they do well under a new brand, or do I request the rights back and either try to re-publish it with another publisher, or join the ever-growing list of authors who are taking back list titles and putting them out in digital format?

And what about an already written book that's part of a series but now has no home? Or the almost-finished one that's also connected?

These aren't only problems with small presses. Some major publishers have discontinued imprints over the years, leaving authors stranded. Others have shifted to a total change in format, no longer putting out mass market paperbacks, instead changing to digital books.

It would be easy to say, "this is nuts," and find another creative outlet. But writers write.

Tomorrow, my guest is author Maryann Miller, and she's talking about The Wonder of Gifts. (And it's pure coincidence that she's Rebecca York's winner.)


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Ugh. That's frustrating. Hope you get some publishing stability soon!

Maris said...

Publishing and publishers are constantly changing, it's something a writer must be prepared for. Not only do publishers (major ones in my case) drop lines, they change and go in different directions. When that happens, the writer must decide if that's a direction s/he wants to go or if it's time to look for a new publisher/line.

Carol Kilgore said...

That's so true. The business end often stinks. But we write. What can we do?

Rachel Firasek said...

I'm recently contracted with a small press and I'm learning patience. It's a chore, but much needed in the small press world. Great post!

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - Thanks. (Although I'm not sure there is such a thing as stability anymore--unless, perhaps, you're Nora Roberts)

Maris - so true. I hadn't expected that part of the business end of things, but it happens. A lot. And making those decisions can lead to sleepless nights.

Carol - I really don't like the business side. But you're right. It's part of the package.

Rachel - I think patience is as important as learning the rules of grammar!

Carol -

Rebecca said...

Good post, Terry. I think the hardest part would be to have a continuing series with no home for the later books. But you know they have to be written. :)

Wynter Daniels said...

It can be frustrating, I know. But we have no choice. I hope you find good homes for your WIPs.

Maryann Miller said...

Terry, I am excited about winning Rebecca's book. It is not a genre I am familiar with, so that will be a good introduction. And there is something serendipitous about being gifted that way and writing about gifts for tomorrow's post.

Terry Odell said...

Rebecca - agreed. I've actually written different versions of critical scenes just in case I have to try to sell the book as 'new.'

Wynter - I think that's it. We choose everything else so carefully--each word, each sentence, each paragraph. To be left with no control goes against what we do.

Maryann-that ended up being good timing--although Rebecca didn't know you were going to be my guest, or the topic. She chose her winner at random.

Hart Johnson said...

UGH, Terry-what a lot of stuff to have to keep track of and figure out! I wish you a ton of luck navigating it! I really hope you find a spot for your books that is more stable!

Terry Odell said...

Hart--thanks (and me too!)

Patricia Stoltey said...

It's a lot to handle, isn't it? Writing seems like a great adventure one minute and a nightmare the next. I can't imagine giving it up, but I often feel grateful I didn't try to become a full-time writer after I left college. As much as I hate to admit it, my dad was right to push me toward a more practical field of study. Now that I'm retired from all the real world work, I can relax and enjoy what I do, and not worry too much about rejection.

Terry Odell said...

Patricia - I'm with you on the retirement thing. Although I don't think anyone likes rejection.