Yesterday I was amped for a rant (of sorts). Actually, it was more of an airing of my dirty laundry, past mistakes and present failures...
Once upon a time I was a writer who doubted myself too much. Note the phrase "too much". Any good writer should doubt a portion of his/her work because, let's be honest, no one does it right every time. No one writes a perfect story on the first draft. No one. (Although Harlan Ellison has come close...check out "Flop Sweat"...he wrote it in one day to be read on air that night. Chilling as today's temperature: 3 degrees Fahrenheit--I won't even convert to Celsius...yow.)
I still doubt myself. But I've moved on. Sort of.
And I'm thankful for the 21st century. I'm thankful for the ability to do certain things* for myself in the future. I'm thankful a 21st century storyteller can reach out and find an audience, even a small audience, without having to prostate himself to the whims of the big meat grinder.
I'd rather have a small, honest audience than a huge audience to which I lie so somebody else can reap the benefits. Don't know what I'm talking about? For the latest example, read: "E-Book Royalty Math: The House Always Wins" (thanks for the link to Robert Swartwood)
Look, no publisher which intends to stay in business can have only an author's best interests in mind. Publishers are in business to make money, and there are plenty of want-to-be writers lined up waiting to take an author's place if that author doesn't pay the bills. Didn't make a profit for the publisher? Next...next...next...
I've had dealings with three small presses--Belfire Press, Virtual Tales, and Aqueous Press. Jodi Lee and company at Belfire have been great. I have certain reservations about the author agreements I've signed with the other two, although Virtual Tales has been top-notch with artwork, promotion, and other "intangibles". Certain things remain to be seen with Aqueous. I'm not excited at all with recent developments (which have nothing to do with my book) because of the "guilt by association" factor involved. Again, I'll refer you to Mr. Swartwood for the scoop. One thing I appreciate about Robert is his unflinching honesty. I'm too much of a chicken-shit most of the time.
So why did I sign on? Once upon a time I was a writer who doubted myself too much. Doubt leads to fear. Fear leads to decisions founded in sand.
I've come to the conclusion that an author's best interests are handled best by that author unless you are a machine (e.g., Stephen King, John Grisham, etc.). An agent can be great in looking out for an author's interests but only as far as it serves the agent (i.e., makes the agent money). No, it's not sour grapes; it's business, and I don't fault any agent for seeking only those clients which will make him/her the most money. That is an agent's job. Many have kids to feed.** But I haven't bothered to query an agent in almost two years. It just doesn't seem like the right time for me.
So for me, small time author, right now it's best to do what I can for myself. The 21st century has laid the tools in my lap.*
At least, this way, when mistakes are made, they're all mine.***
One final note: thanks to everyone who has purchased, promoted, or talked about 52 Stitches. Jamie was family, and it does my sometimes bitter and jaded heart good to see the power of my extended internet family.
*cover art, e-publishing, promotion, etc.
**I do. Let me tell you, having a family changes perspective on a lot of things.