Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writing Wibbles

I have to admit I made little or no progress on the Pickups series this week. But I did finish a short story I started in January 2008, and actually came up with a title, Xenocide. It’s my #TuesdaySerial for the rest of the year; I kicked it off with Episode 1 yesterday. Comments (even negative ones) are always appreciated, of course. I think it’ll wrap up in the first or second week of January — by then, White Pickups should be in the eBook stores and Pickups and Pestilence should be in beta. I have a somewhat aggressive (for a guy with a day job and raising a grandkid) publishing schedule for next year: Pestilence, an anthology, and maybe a novelized version of FAR Future. If I’m really productive, maybe the first book of that YA trilogy will be out by the end of next year.


But that’s all I’ll talk about myself this post. I seem to remember seeing something about this when it hit the fan in August, but my Twitter buddy and fellow Planet Georgia denizen (and virulently anti-traditional publishing advocate) Kendall Grey reminded me about it today. The Write Lawyer weighed in on the saga of Kiana Davenport, who had the audacity to self-publish (with Amazon) an anthology to keep paying the bills while her novel was working its way through the sluggish bowels of the traditional publishing system. The publisher, Riverhead Books (a Penguin imprint), had rejected the anthology years ago but had a full-blown temper tantrum when they found out what she’d done. The editor delivered a lovely shouting session over the phone, accusing her of (among other things) “sleeping with the enemy” (i.e. Amazon). They then canceled her book and refuse to return to her the publishing rights until she returns the $20,000 advance (which she needed to pay bills and live on in the first place).

Davenport sums it up pretty well, I think, on her blog: “Sleeping with the enemy? Perhaps. But now I know who the enemy is.”


But as Kendall points out, it’s not just publishers taking far too long (to their own detriment) to adjust to the new world of self-propelled eBook publishing. After attending a local romance writers’ conference in Atlanta, she’s pretty much sworn off writers’ conferences. And, quite likely, the Planet Georgia chapter of RWA (who sponsored this conference).

All the writer conferences I’ve attended (yes, every single one) are geared for people looking for agents/editors to schmooze. … I do not belong with these people. I’m an outlier who doesn’t fit into their box. I refuse to wear their leash.

Responding to comments, of which there were many (and most supportive), Kendall did admit that there were other good things about writers’ conferences — the networking, promotional opportunities, and the like — which got me wondering. Would a writers’ conference geared toward indie- and self-publishers spark any interest? Rather than workshops on crafting the perfect query letter, what agents are looking for, and so on, the agenda could focus on topics relevant to indies:

  • Setting up an author’s site
  • Blogging stories
  • Compiling an anthology
  • Getting the formatting Just Right
  • Print on Demand
  • Promotion without driving all your friends crazy
  • …and of course, the great plotters vs. pantsers smackdown

There could also be ad hoc crit groups and a “skills exchange” — as I wrote last week, you need a good team behind you, but not everyone has the cash upfront to hire that team. But I might be a typesetting gearhead and need an editor; she has editing chops and needs a cover artist; he can produce killer cover art and needs someone to format his own book. We could all take on the parts we’re good at, and everyone gets (we hope) a quality job without breaking the bank.

Kendall thinks I ought to take this and run with it. I don’t think I have that much time on my hands. But if people think it’s a good idea, I’ll try to facilitate it. If I get a lot of response, I’ll open up a new blog or website to keep things moving.

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