The Ups and Downs of Indy Publishing
All this stuff keeps me up at night. Are our authors getting their writing done? Will they send their manuscripts to me in time? How much editing will they need? Are they all passed out drunk at the YMCA and unable to do anything for months? Now what about the covers? Is that artist I hired the right one for this book? Why didn’t they contact me today? Maybe they are working! What if they got their hands cut off in a threshing accident? Yeah, probably not on that one…But that one gets me out of bed to check my email.
No one has written me in five hours. Even though it is only 3:30 in the morning, it gets me jumpy. Go over to Amazon and check to see if there are any new reviews on our first book, Her Name is Violence. Then, of course, I go and see if any more have been sold. Take the sales numbers and figure out how many more we need to sell before we can take another ad.
Next, it is over to Facebook to check out all the pages we could possibly post on about our stuff, but those are mostly crammed with people trying to get some attention for their own work. It is a nonstop fight just to get yourself a moment’s notice. You post one thing and it is already fifth on the page as more and more are posting right after you. Then there is the odd ad for a contest or something even more ludicrous that will be deleted eventually but takes your space away.
With all that done, it is time for a few Slim Jims and a soda for eats, then back at it. Check the email again and maybe I’ll get a query or two from someone trying to get published. You can tell by the first sentence if you should continue. “Guess what, I’ve got a book that…” Guess what! Learn to write a query letter with some professionalism. Others tell me they have books so controversial that no one would ever dare publish them. They have part of that correct.
Sometimes we get something that is really good—something that I think is worthwhile and want to publish. But then it is back to bean-counting. Can we afford to take this manuscript? How much for the cover, the editing (which I will do just to save money), and then there is the promotion. Will they wait until November or so when we get some more cash, maybe…My stomach hurts. Maybe I should cut down to one Slim Jim. No, there are some sacrifices I just won’t make.
With the sun up, birds are chirping and people are walking hand in hand under rainbows. Better check Amazon again to see if we have another review. Nothing. Get a message from one of the writers who can’t find out what types of phones were used during the 1930s. For the next hour, I am on research duty. After sending the info in, time to worry that Her Name is Violence has some anachronism in it, so I scour through it for the nine-thousandth time, only to find out all is well.
Once in a while, I’ll get an email from someone who has read the book and thinks there is some typo or grammatical issue and this sets me off, too. Love it especially when they post it somewhere, and love it more when they are wrong but it is out there as if we are sloppy unprofessionals who sit around watching “Kojak” reruns and just slap a cover onto anything that comes our way.
Now it’s time to read James M. Cain or maybe Raymond Chandler to get some inspiration to do some writing myself. Keep preaching to anyone wanting to write crime or mystery: Learn from the masters. Study their stories, pacing, perfect use and timing of adjectives and adverbs. Treat writing like the craft it is. Look at the way they do it. Feel depressed after reading that these authors have just done everything there is to do in the genre, but then it turns over and I am inspired to take things further.
That is how we came up with Hard Core Noir and our desire to take the crime/mystery genre into harder, darker places. By lunchtime, I am full of energy and can hardly wait to get back to work. Is this really what goes on at the “big-time” houses? Doubt it, but I don’t care. What I care is that we produce some great books and stories and don’t worry about sales and marketing groups to tell us what will and won’t sell.
What matters the most is quality and pleasing our fans.
In Her Name is Violence, we have to hope to have done that.