I want to thank Jena and everybody at Pure Textuality for inviting me for a guest post. This is a great site with a lot of information for both traditional and indie readers/authors, so I am honored that I was asked to participate. My name is Erik Lynd and I write horror, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, thrillers and well… read the post for the whole story.
I have a theory, based on my personal experience that we might be seeing a lot more books and novels being produced by the authors we love than ever before. The reason? Freedom.
Like many people this time of year, I recently sat back and tried to decide on what I would like to accomplish in my writing career for 2012. I realized I had a lot of projects lined up and just waiting for a place in the schedule. I spent time thinking about which project I would like to work on and when, but also what my readers might want. Do they want another stand-alone horror? Should I finish the next two books in my new urban fantasy series? I really have a great idea for an epic fantasy series…that sort of thing.
That was when it occurred to me: I have the freedom to sit back and make these decisions. That is only possible in this new indie world of publishing. Let me explain, and this is not an Indie vs. Traditional publishing rant or overview. This is just a discussion about one great advantage to Indie publishing.
When I sold my first novel, Asylum, to a traditional publisher I was told I would have to wait almost two years before it would be released. This is on the high end, but still with most traditional publishers it is a year or more from contract to release. This stunned me, but I went with it, I mean what other choice did I have? There was no other way to release my book.
When my second novel, The Collection, was complete (long before the first would be released) I was again told it would be about two years before it was available to any readers.
This is normal in traditional publishing, one book per year at most and stick to your genre. There are exceptions of course and it is possible to use a pen name if you want to increase your output, but you have to be careful of any non-compete clause in your publishing contract. Also using a pen name means re-building your audience from the ground up.
At this point two things happened then that changed my writing career. Shortly after turning in my second novel, my publisher made some business decisions I didn’t agree with. I won’t go into detail here as I already covered that in one of my first blog posts on my site, but suffice to say it was significant enough for me to ask for the rights back for my novels. They were gracious and released the rights.
The second thing that happened was the emergence of the eBook and Indie publishing (specifically the Kindle). With eBooks it was economically viable to release my own novels. I spent the last year trying it out, releasing my “back list” novels one at a time. It was a great year and I learned a lot. But the best part now as I look forward to the next year is I don’t have to plan my writing at the snail’s pace of traditional publishing. While I could always write as much as I wanted, the psychological aspect of only releasing one, maybe two books, a year slowed me down.
It was also a challenge to break out of your genre locked into traditional publishing contracts. If your horror novel was a success then the next book the publisher wants is horror, and the next one, and the next one…
So this is what the next year holds for me; freedom to be able to write and release the four or five novels trying to burst out of my head and freedom to spread them across several genres (horror, urban fantasy, thriller, if you were wondering), freedom to respond directly to my readers to deliver what I think they will like the best. Until the end of last year I had focused on horror and dark fantasy, but just this winter I released my first urban fantasy thriller called Silas Robb: Of Saints and Sinners. If I had tried that with a traditional publisher it would have been an uphill battle and I would probably have had to find a new publisher for this new genre (and a new pen name).
And so my theory: With more and more authors supplementing (or outright leaving) their traditionally published novels with independent novels, they will get a taste of this freedom and will explore it with more words, more books, and more risks. And that is great news for the readers who love those words.
From Jena at Pure Textuality: Thanks so much to Erik for the time taken for this fantastic post! As someone who is in the process of penning their first book, I find it encouraging.
Erik Lynd is the author of horror and dark/urban fantasy novels including ASYLUM, THE COLLECTION and SILAS ROBB: OF SAINTS AND SINNERS. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two kids. More information about him and his work can be found at www.eriklynd.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @eriklynd.
Great post, Erik. The indie/ebook revolution has so excited me and spurred me to write that I wish I had caught on when it first began. I was always stifled in the past by the fear that getting the attention of a publisher (even if i finished my novel) was like ‘winning the lottery’ and even then they may not promote my work as well as they could. Thanks for the encouragement.
Erik, thanks for following me on Twitter and leading me to this fabulous post! I completed my first humorous mystery novel in November and entered it into a contest with a traditional publisher. I’ll know by late March if I won; if not, I’ve been pondering my Plan B.
The issue of the slow pace of traditional publishing has been weighing on my mind. Blogging has spoiled me for its aspects of reader interaction and publication whenever I feel like it. I’ve been successful at indie publishing a number of e-books. You really have given me the courage to lean more toward self-publication, all things considered–including the fact that I’m not getting any younger, LOL! (Who has time to wait?)
Your wisdom rings true because you’ve experienced both of the major paths to publishing. Thanks, again, for this meaningful share.
Thanks for the great comments.
Joyce, My two cents: Not sure what the terms of the contest are but if you can, also release it as an eBook. The reality is if they think it is great and want to publish it they should overlook that it is available as an eBook. Also if it does well you will be in a better position to negotiate.
Thanks for your comment. Keep in mind having a huge hit with indie/self publishing is also a lottery. The difference is that by doing it yourself you control everything including how many and how often you buy lottery tickets (releasing a book).
[…] did this a month ago and I am little behind). Awhile ago I did a guest post on a great blog Puretextuality.com. It was called Freedom. I encourage everybody to go read it and check out the site, but then […]