Hampton Roads published my first book, Back in Time Tarot, which was chosen by the OneSpirit Book Club as the #8th best title released in 2008...alongside titles by the likes of Deepak Chopra.
Schiffer Publishing released my second book, Tarot in Reverse, a few months ago. And, we're contracted with them for our Snowland Tarot deck/book set.
A few weeks ago, I decided to do a book tour for Tarot in Reverse (don't know what possessed me...I don't really like doing them, despite having a gregarious personality). So I'm on the phone with the manager of Books-a-Million--a very nice man--who's ready to schedule me for a signing and talk.
He says rather haltingly: "Well, I can get your first book here in the store...but not your new one. You can sign for Back in Time Tarot...?"
"Yes, I realize that", he says. "But we have two warehouses: one for online orders, and another for stocking our brick-and-mortar stores. The latter doesn't carry titles from Schiffer Publishing".
Ron's 60 cards into painting Snowland...and we find out that BAM won't even carry it when it arrives in 2013.
Color me regretting signing that deck/book contract (well, I was already regretting it for other reasons, but...)
Why? Oh, not just because I've never actually seen a Schiffer Publishing book OR deck in any brick-and-mortar bookstore (which doesn't help).
It's because I make hundreds of dollars every month on my self-published eBooks...that I barely promote. Enough to pay my mortgage and then some. (And royalties for Back in Time Tarot? I haven't even earned back my advance, so I haven't seen a royalty check from them for years...)
If I would focus on putting my hard-earned knowledge in more eBooks, rather than wasting my time with traditional publishing, I could make some (more) serious coin.
I'm writing a cozy mystery right now and thought I had to get an agent in order to pitch to NY (is it wrong to wish to have a title among the Berkley Prime Time Crime line...you know, with the little handprint on the spine?).
But like the extraordinary Kristen Lamb stated in her latest blog post How Self-Publishing Has Helped All Writers: Welcome to the Revolution: It seems any 24 year old with a degree from NYU can hang up a shingle and call herself a literary agent and suddenly she is “real.”
Whoa. Never thought about it quite like that. (And if you're a writer of any stripe, you really need to read her blog post...) And she's right: authors are Googling and investigating agents these days...and wondering if we're better off without them.
Back to the point of this post: I'm here to tell you, as a traditionally-published author, that it's not all it's cracked up to be. Don't think the grass is greener here; it's not. We have to work just as hard as you for publicity and marketing (especially those of us who have publishers that don't even have a blog or tweet).
Oh, don't think self-publishing is any easier, though. (Well, maybe it is...if you count not having to deal with inept publishing staff). I've worked damn hard to build up a platform (a decade's worth), so those who buy my eBooks are largely doing so because I've established myself as a trusted reviewer, knowledgeable teacher and entertaining writer.
You'll have to do the same if you want to make it as a career writer.
But shake off that stigma of being a "self-published writer". Yes, it's true that most self-published stuff is utter crap (sorry, but hey), and I won't review 98% of it for this reason.
However, if you've studied the craft for years, read extensively and write lots of stuff...you have a chance.
More than just a chance, really.
There's no better time to be a writer, especially if you've been at it for years and have a following (not matter how modest). Amazon's CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (to name but a few options) are more than levelling the playing field.
In fact, they've busted it wide open for those who have the talent, perservance, vision and enthusiasm to go after their writing dreams.
A writer is a writer is a writer.
Wait...you're still here? Go get writing already!