I know it's odd, me posting on a Sunday, but I have just joined a blog chain helmed by Michelle McLean and Kate Quinn. The chain gives each member a chance to answer a writing and/or career related question while reading our fellow members' thoughts. Over the last year, I have seen these posts around the blogosphere, and when my friend Christine Fonseca invited me to join, I said yes for the chance to learn and share on a deadline.
This month, the chain started with Sandra (see chain blogroll on sidebar for links) who asked the question
Have the recent changes in the publishing industry affected your writing plans/career? If so, how?
The quick answer is of course my plans have been affected! But the reality is that I am still a novice writer who is discovering what it means to have a strong writing voice and a lack of structure. I posted a few weeks ago on my five-year plan and that I am two years into it. The plan is to be published within five years (NOT by any means necessary) and to have a stronger sense of what having a writing career really means for me.
In the last two years, my perspective on publishing has changed dramatically. My first and only query letter is something I laugh at now. Matt saw it, it's comically bad. When I first learned about self-publishing, I pigeonholed those who take on that endeavor as impatient, immature brats. Did I mention I am still a novice writer?
You see, I thought you wrote a story, queried, and got a book deal. Hahaha. (Ow, laughing hurts my stomach right now.) Even now, the publishing process is a bit of a mystery for me because I have been focused on writing the best stories I can and I avoid posts that have to do with agents and their advice.
One single event has had the largest impact on my view of the publishing industry and, in turn, my own career.
Last March, when Anita Miller first told me her intentions to self-publish a book that had previously been agented by an all-star agent, my jaw dropped to the floor (it was covered in carpet lint and dog hair...totally gross). Anita and I had grown close as far as virtual partnerships go, and I was concerned for her and troubled by the seeming suddenness of her decision.
The truth is that Anita did her homework and made a decision to venture off the normal publishing track. Whether or not that decision has paid off is "yet to be determined," in her own words, but I can tell you it has been exciting to read, hail, and promote Anita's two middle grade e-books that she sells for ninety-nine freaking cents.
Anita's journey has been a most acidic catalyst in my own writing career as I watch new opportunities bubble up daily. I have a lot of thinking and decision-making to do as the last three years of my goal come to pass. The focus is not on meeting a fake deadline. The focus is to come to a place where I can clearly reflect on what I have learned and make an informed decision or two on where to go from there.
The changes in the publishing industry are not going to stop, no matter what each of us decides to do with our own writing. Embracing and heralding e-books and self-publishing works does not mean you or I have to choose that path.
What I tell myself every day is to be open-minded and to take the changes the universe hurls at me with stride and a sense of adventure.