Saturday, May 04, 2013


Another post from facebook. It's really too long for facebook.
I just read another Salon essay by a frustrated literary writer, who has self-published his fourth novel as an e-book and can't get any reviews. His previous three novels came out on paper from New York houses. He seems to have no idea what he's doing, and I guess my question is, how do you find out if you are a literary writer? An SF writer can gather information about publishing and promotion at cons, the SFWA bulletin, the SFWA site (I assume), online discussion groups, blogs... I think the same is true of romance and mystery writers. Does anything comparable exist for literary writers? The only thing I could think of is writing workshops. There are a zillion literary writing workshops, or were the last time I checked.

I was amazed by how hurt and clueless he was. He published three novels and was dropped. Well, this is painful, but it happens to many writers. He and his agent decided that he should self-publish his next novel as an e-book. As far as I can tell, he did not consider changing his name (if the problem was prior sales) or going to an independent publisher. Neither he nor the agent appeared to know anything about e-publishing.

My two writing groups have self-published print-on-paper collections. It's not that expensive. We did it more for fun than anything else and have not made a serious effort at marketing. But you end with a concrete object, which local bookstores can carry. There is always a display of local authors, even at Barnes and Noble. There is a chance of getting a review at the local paper, if you have a tangible book. There are awards given by associations of independent publishers, and your book might win. (Remember that you have become an independent publisher by putting out your book.) Awards are always nice, even small ones. And you have something you can put on your shelf. You may have many copies to put on your shelf.

I guess what I'm saying is -- the two obvious ways to promote are through a genre community, if your work is genre, or through a regional community. Authors have to live somewhere. If you are an unsuccessful novelist in New York, you might consider moving to a place that has fewer writers.

And I have not a clue how to promote an e-book, if you are an author without a following.


Blogger Foxessa said...

Um, the resources for learning publishing in NYC -- even for the class so despised by this genre -- are incredibly numerous. For pete's sake, they teach courses in it at NYU, even, that bastion of literary writing. Ah-hem.

Why is it so important to genre writers to believe such nonsense about fiction writers who don't do genre?

A single clueless writer is no more representative of anything than an sf/f clueless self-published writer -- and there are throngs of them too.

9:53 AM  
Blogger chirine ba kal said...

Thanks for the insight on the process! I'm going through some of the same issues myself, but I'm very firmly in the 'genre' room of the house. - and my 'genre room' is so far off the usual map, it's silly! - and so any insights are doubly welcome!

yours, Chirine

1:24 AM  

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