Monday, December 6, 2010

"The Matrix is a System - The System is our Enemy" - Morpheus

If you're a writer, you have to ask yourself at some point if you simply want to see your book in print or if you want to go the distance and get published traditionally. As Agent Smith from The Matrix says, "It is inevitable." But here in the real world, we can't slip into the Matrix or create an alternate reality!

Or can we?

With the onslaught of e-book readers and the endless websites that publish digitally (Amazon, B&N,, Smashwords, Google ebooks, etc), it is very tempting to throw some words on the screen and ship them off to the Kindle store, hoping to not miss out on the Kindle, Nook, iPad craze. And honestly, if you're as impatient as I am, it's extra tempting to rush that book into print.

What to do in this crazy publishing environment - so many voices - so many unknowns.

Amid all the chaos, the real question is, can writers gain credibility in the new ebook marketplace, with a good format, cover, and good editing, without the agent and big Pub backing? Can we pay our dues, and build our platform successfully on our own? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm asking, because it is quite clear that the world of publishing is changing rapidly and I am very interested in how it's going to pan out for authors such as myself. Authors have to market their work on their own anyway, unless you're a proven best seller, so why not go it alone?

Historically, traditional publishing is the best way to gain credibility as an author. The problem is, it's getting harder to get a manuscript into the right agent or publisher's hands. Therefore, I'd like to propose a theory.

I believe that a well edited, self-published author can use today's ebook market to get a book deal by building a following, little by little, gaining new readers with each new book, and proving his or her ability to sell. You have to build your platform first anyway, or so it seems, so why not develop a following, slowly, until publishers and/or agents have no choice but to notice you, hoping to get a piece of the action. Think of the experience you'll gain writing and producing your work and learning the publishing business, all the while gaining fans and making more money per book! Heck, it's all about the money to the publishers anyway.

They may disregard you today...but show them the money, and guess what they'll be kissing?

Examples of self-publishers who are doing this, according to JA Konrath are: Viki Tyley, John Locke, D.B. Henson, and Steven Davison among others. Konrath has a "Top 20 Self-Published Authors" list that is filled with top 100 Kindle authors who are doing as well as or better than he is in sales. This is very encouraging for me, because honestly, I have a lot of stories that I need to get out of my head, my readers like what I write, and I want to give them more.

I'm not sure if I want to wait until Hell freezes over before I get a contract.

My thoughts are: If you have to go it alone, building your platform one fan at a time, you have to ask yourself; do I really need the publishers anyway? In the words of Trinity from the Matrix, "The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to."

CASE IN POINT: I wrote this post a few months ago. Since that time I have had my supernatural thriller, REUNION, edited, published with my own publishing company (Nexgate) and scheduled a 45 day blog tour. The result: REUNION is getting an incredible response from reviewers across the country.

To see those early reviews go to:


  1. Hi, Jeff-
    Great blog. I just started one and you can bet I'll be studying yours! Your questions about publishing swirl in my head, too. I'll be e-published in erotic romance at the end of the month by Samhain Publishing. And I pitched a foodie romance to Sourcebooks at a conference, got an offer, got an agent (harder than getting an offer), and she's hammering out a deal with them as I type. I think how you publish depends on your personality type and your dream. Contracts are incredibly complex and I thank my lucky stars my agent is doing the negotiating. I'm also glad to have her connections when I'm ready to submit the next new manuscript. I'm glad to have someone to bounce new book ideas and my ten year plan off of. I don't have the relational/platform-building/linky brain so common in this generation - although I'm trying, man, am I trying - so self-publishing would be a slog for me. As far as editors go, this is what I have learned: although I'm talented, my Samhain editor makes my work stronger. I am learning from her. If I chose to self-publish, I would (now that I know) pay a professional editor to read my stuff. My dream was to print publish, and I'm tickled pink at the thought of a mass market print deal. However, working with Samhain has been amazing - great covers, insightful editors, professional behavior. I'm just as tickled with my e-pub. I'm not sure self-publishing would give me the validation or the distribution I seem to crave. Or money. Because I don't think I have the skills to build a huge following without help. I'll stop now. What a huge subject. So many angles. I look forward to reading your future posts.
    ps - I love the Matrix. My husband makes fun of me when I admit that I sometimes wonder if my life IS an alternate reality...

  2. And there are authors like me who are leaving their traditional publishers because they realize going independent is the only way to make money. I love the new world of publishing because it allows me to have control and be successful.

    Best wishes with your book!

  3. Ahhhhh! Nooooooo! Do you feel like you have a platform established? Tell me more. The "new world" morphs as we type....

  4. Hey Jeff!

    I really appreciate your post. I just finished school for fashion design, to complete with an endless amount of books, I want to write. And, none of them are fashion related!

    But, it is the point that we never lose our dreams and our passions.

    I always had a passion for writing, but I never followed through in fear of my grammar and publishing.

    I was trying to type out my 'book in process' and I got really discouraged by all my red and gred marks in MS Word. I sent a shout out to my inspiring energy, and in that same moment....I googled free blogs and created a twitter account.

    I never thought about a blog before, and I never considered twitter. This has been a great journey. And, in it I think your right. I think by blogs and Ebooks, its a great way to be bold, and confident in just getting ourselves out there. It is a way of learning ourselves, our writing voices, and those who appeal to it.

    Hardly is a thought an original, but with your perception, it will be unique. Meaning we all have our innovative ways of saying one meaning. And, readers have the choice of choosing which artist paints scenes thay can imagine.

    Ha, ramble!

    But, personally--I hope that this Ebook thing does not consume traditional publishing. We are losing ourselves via E everything...I love to take my hard coverd book in the bath with me, and escape reality with a soak.

    I also miss, going into a book store and losing myself for hours admiring peoples collections of thoughts....just saying...

  5. Miranda,
    Congratulations. You have done it! I don't know anything about your publisher, but I hope the whole deal works out for you. I know a couple published authors and I found that they felt as if they arrived when they got the deal, but were discouraged by how little the publisher marketed on their behalf, leaving them fending for themselves - minus the in-store distribution. It seems no matter which way you go, it will come back to relationships and connections. I don't think you'll be able to hide behind a publisher and sell books. They will most likely expect you to get out there, blog tour, blog, sign, and build your platform anyway. I don't mean that in a bad way. It just seems like that's what I hear from pubs and authors. And, a big thank you for stopping by. I just followed your blog too!

    I'd love to hear more from you and why you decided to make the jump away from traditional publishing...and I mean details. I'll contact you. Thanks for visiting!

    Hi Misty,
    Welcome to the world of writing. Sounds like you feel at home here. So what are you writing? What's your genre? Let me know and don't forget how important it is to get those darn ebooks edited. I use Jodi Renner from JodieRennerEditing. She's pretty affordable and is an editor for a few magazines and has edited many books. looking forward to hearing from you.

  6. You're right, I know you're right. ("He's never going to leave her." Sorry. Had a "When Harry Met Sally" moment!)Anyway - yes. I know this. That's why I'm blogging, tweeting, running a contest on my website, giving away great recipes and trying to make friends. I'm focusing on conversation and connection, and hoping the promotion will happen naturally. Well, mostly. Thanks for subscribing. It's nice to meet you!

  7. A platform was a given for nonfiction books, but now the publishers want you to have a following and visibility before they'll consider your fiction. Sure it helps assure the success of my book to the publishers, but it also keeps me on track. I'm writing for an audience already. Number of visitors and comments I receive are a good indicator that my writing is on target.

  8. Karla, And I appreciate the makes me think...I'm on track! Thanks. I'll check out your blog!

  9. Good thought from everyone! I'll give you my two cents worth as a book review blogger and e-Reader fan. I LOVE that self-publishing is available. I, personally, try to review self-published authors when I can because I think this is a great avenue to getting wonderful books out there that otherwise would never see the light of day. One of my favorite author is Amanda Hocking, YA author. She is self-published and I devour her books like crack. I never would have had the opportunity to read her work without Amazon, and just because an agent or publisher didn't like or "feel" her queries? A one page letter describing her book? I seriously would have missed out on great fantasy worlds and characters. I shudder to think of my literary shelf without her on it. I read her road to self-publishing as well and was floored with how much she gets from her sales as opposed to a 'traditionally' published book! She also now has quite a nice fan following and an agent! She's very happy with self-publishing domestically, so her agent works on foreign sales.

    I will say, that before her, I was skeptical about self-published books. I thought they must not be that great if a publisher doesn't want them. The more I learned how the publishing world worked, the faster I changed my tune. I encourage people who are interested in self-publishing to go for it, other comments, the author needs to be able to sell themselves and their work. Building a presence, building relationships with bloggers, twitter fans in your genre are essential!!! No one likes a self promoter either, "Buy my book, TRy my book," etc. Build the relationships before you publish that book, please! Then it's not so annoying. These people can help sell your book and YOU. You would be amazed how word of mouth, or giveaways leads to more readers/fans.

    I also like Amazon, Goodreads, Library Things, other review sites and how they show ratings, reviews, and other similar books you might like based on your previous reads. That's how I found Amanda Hocking. She was listed as a book on Amazon that I might like based on my rating another YA book I had finished. Another great tool to promote you.

    You still have to have a quality book though, so your point in throwing something together just to self-publish won't work either, you're right. If I read your work and it's poorly done, lots of grammar issues, typos, poorly developed, I won't give your future books a second glance.

    I think self-publishing is gaining ground and credibility. I LOVE my Kindle, and I do relax in a bubble with it just as easily as with a printed book. I take it with me to get my hair done, pedicures, wherever. I remember thinking CDs were just a fad and everyone would go back to tapes. Seriously, I thought that as a teenager even. Now look where the music industry has gone. Go with the flow and with the times, just make sure you have the support system and know how to market yourself.

    OK, maybe more than two cents worth, but this is a hot topic right now and as I've said before, I'm a cheerleader for writers no matter how you get published. I just want good books to read and be able to live in them for awhile. :D

  10. Tale of many reviews! Thanks again for your ever so encouraging words, not only to me, but to the other Indies who read this blog. Like you, I definitely see a change coming... a big change. And as the Indie products improve in quality, and they will if they want to sell, more and more readers will come to think like you. Thanks again for responding!


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