Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You Say It Like It's a Bad Thing?

I’m not a person who likes labels. I use them at times. I just don’t like them. So, I’m wondering when the word “independent” turned into a bad thing. The dictionary says the word means true or liberated, so why do so many book review sites refuse to give books by independent authors a read?

Before you go any further, in case you don’t know, I write books involving women who love women—also known as lesbian fiction. So, not only am I an independent writer, I also write in a genre shunned by many reviewers. I understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I get that, but broadening one’s horizon is just that—isn’t it? And as if that wasn’t enough, to add insult to injury, heaven forbid you only write eBooks. (That’s me, at least for now.)

Now, I know that there are many who want to hold a book in their hand. I own books. Real books with real pages and glossy jackets crinkled and ripped—who doesn’t, but times they are a-changing. People can now carry a library in their briefcase, backpack or handbag. They don’t have to squint if the writing is too small or run to the neighborhood pharmacy for a pair of cheaters, all they have to do is to adjust the display. That’s not a bad thing, and neither is being an independent author.

The other day I read a very interesting and entertaining article in the Wall Street Journal about Hugh Howey, author of Wool. He has sold a half-million eBooks, signed a movie deal, and now has a “print-rights-only” contract with Simon & Schuster...and he did it his way. He’s independent in the truest sense of the word. I won’t go into details, but Mr. Howey stuck to his guns. He didn’t give in. He didn’t crumble at the feet of publishing houses with decades of experience. He stood up. He said no.  He’s a millionaire. Wow.

Of course, he didn’t write lesbian fiction...but I do. :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

How’d I Get Here?

I started my career/hobby quite accidentally. Long story somewhat shorter—I got hooked on a television show which led me to fan fiction, and after reading dozens if not hundreds of stories, I started writing my own.

I’ll be the first to admit that my first story had a tremendous amount of punctuation, sentence structure and repetitive errors in it, but the story itself was a good one, and it garnered a lot of attention, so I wrote another, and then another, and then another. Four years later, due to the constant prodding by my fans and my friends, I bit the bullet and decided—what the hell.

I’m not a person with a lot of self-confidence, but I knew if I didn’t try, I would always regret it. So, I took six months and rewrote one of my first, short fan fictions, and turned it into a full-fledged book entitled Ice. I did some research, chose a publisher, and holding my breath, I attached it to an email, and off it went. Thirteen weeks later, the unbelievable happened—the publisher contacted me and wanted to publish my book! CPR was required, trust me.

But a funny thing happened on the way to getting published. I changed my mind. After some discussion and the delivery of a contract, as I read through the legal document, I realized that I wasn’t willing to give them what they wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelves, but if the words inside the cover aren’t mine—what’s the point?

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t benefit from a publisher’s editing staff or their marketing department, because I know I would, but all in all, I think I’m doing okay. With the help of a lovely lady who acts as my very underpaid editor, I’ve self-published two eBooks so far, and I’m happy to report that in December 2012, Ice and Mistletoe held the #1 and #2 spots on Amazon’s Best Seller Lesbian Fiction list. I’ve received dozens of emails from people, who are now fans, and I’ve also been blessed by some really marvelous reviews from the readers, and for me, that’s what matters the most.

Yes, there are some typos in my books, and yes, I’m sure missing punctuation or dangling participles exist, but by the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I think I’m doing my job. Yes, not all the reviews display 5 stars, but I never thought I’d please everyone. I was only going for a couple. :)

There you have it – my first ever blog post. How’d I do?