Indie Publishing in Fiction: Who Upped the Ante?

Is the Amanda Hocking Era Over?

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I don’t mean Amanda’s career. She’s a natural story teller, the most talented YA author I have read on my Kindle.  I hope she goes on to the heights.

No, I mean the Amanda Hocking Kindle Era.

Like Amanda, I’ve been writing all my life and have a considerable backlog of books to polish up and publish. But I could never produce the way she did when she first began on Kindle and rose to fame.

According to her, weeks of Red Bull-fueled nights of relentless writing resulted in three series that were released on demand by her growing number of fans. Sleep was the enemy and she pushed through it.

I, on the other hand, have not got this ability. I am quite a bit older than 26 – the age she was when she performed this feat – and my mind would refuse to cooperate with such extreme conditions.  So more power to her!

She did inspire me to self publish on Amazon and Smashwords though. Being a DIY kind of gal, this appealed to me, I haven’t made much money at this stage, and am daunted at the work required to get my books noticed in the ever-growing Amazon slush pile, but I know my stories are worth the effort. I chose to start small and move incrementally, which is what this blog post is about.

But Why is it the End of an Era?

The thing about Amanda’s pace of writing books, and I have heard her discuss this, so I’m not being catty, is that her books were not edited. At all. But she was selling to teenagers, who seem to be much more forgiving about this sort of thing if they like the story. Todays teenagers are the generation who do not know of a time when computers did not exist and who got the first Kindle Readers in their hot little hands. They bought Amanda’s books for their Kindle readers, loved them and the story goes on.

When I decided to try this e-book thing out, I published a few short stories that had been published elsewhere. It was a beta test. It takes me a while to get the hang of technology so I needed a chance to play around with Kindle and Smashwords and see what it was all about. My stories went public. Then, in the interests of science, I published two novellas: a very old story (2004) Memento Mori and a newer piece The Lady in Yellow. People downloaded The Lady in Yellow in droves from Smashwords. I was shocked! It attracted good reviews with one major complaint: it should be developed into a novel. (This is what I am doing, along with Memento  Mori. Being an early experimental work written when I was coming out of my Poet phase, Memento Mori has always had problems. But I love it and so do a few other people.)

My reviewers have been adults. They are a lot harder on an author than teenagers. Had I not had the ease of self publishing — had I contemplated sending the novellas out to agents and publishers — these would not yet have seen the light of day. I just wanted to see what would happen. Lucky, so far—no disasters.

Too many authors have been throwing their novels up there when they are not finished or  developed. I am shocked when a writer says they will produce four novels in one year to keep their sales funnel pumping. Maybe they have the time and the talent I don’t have but I don’t think they will be able to get away with that for much longer.

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The E-Book Ante has been Upped.

Like Facebook, originally created to attract teens, Kindle readers are falling into the hands of adults. Adults who READ. Educated, READING adults who have zero tolerance for bad grammar, sloppy execution and typos. Serious, sophisticated READERS who will cut you a new one on your Review Page for producing books that fall below traditional publishing standard.

If you want a career, it would be a good idea to take this change very seriously. Too many bad reviews citing shallow characters, plot holes, bad pacing, bad grammar, and those demonic typos, will not only sink that book, but any books that come after. Short of changing your pen name, you won’t be given much grace for changing your ways.

Thank you Amanda Hocking for opening this door. But as she has breezed through it, those of us who have followed have found a thorny path that may lead back to traditional publishing where the serious readers find their serious, even on Kindle, books.

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I Am Mortal, therefore I Self Publish!

Salon des Refusés

 

In 1860s Paris, the early Impressionist painters were denied the privilege to show their works in the popular and prestigious art galleries. So they held their own shows and called them the Salon des Refusés.

Father Time Chews my Heels

My writing has not been refused by editors and publishers, all of my short stories have been published or have bee accepted for publication, but I have always been independent and have admired people who have done things successfully on their own. I also feel very pressed by Time, the old Harvester who stands over my shoulder with a scythe reminding me that time moves on, even if nothing else does. Since that old Grim Reaper is a frequent character in my tales, I suppose we have a kind of pact.

Friends who have had publishing deals, with advances, have taught me a lot about this as well. By the time they find an agent who finds a buyer a year may pass. maybe more. By the time they get the deal and see their book in print, at least 18 months have gone by.

I have been writing seriously, with career in mind, for 12 years solid and have a huge backlog of novels waiting for polish. They are Dark Fantasies written before the Harry Potter craze and the vampire craze and a the faerie craze and in the years it has taken me to hone my craft, what were once rarities have become relentless – so does Time work its ways upon us.

Then, about 2 months ago, as I was seeing Kindle readers proliferate on the bus, I was turned on to Amanda Hocking and her success with ebooks. I studied up and realized I did not have to wait more years upon years to get my stories out there. Every writer must know that stories that stay buried in the cupboard for too long rankle in the soul, they clank their chains and cry “Let me out!” and you get tired of shushing them and saying “We have to be patient.” We understand why the often refused EA Poe wrote The Tomb of Ligeia about a woman buried alive. Stories are alive and they can’t stay buried while the wheels of the publishing world slowly grind you down.

I also have a few novellas, difficult beasts to publish because of their length. But i love them and read the ones I have over and over because they are short and satisfying. I figured these would be ideal for e-readers because the pages are so small, a novella becomes a short novel almost.

Therefore I say: I am mortal, therefore I self publish!

The Success of Les Refuses

For those who don’t know about it, I re-print this from Wikipedia about the impact of  Salon des Refuses, of how artists took matters into their own hands and changed the art world forever.

Many critics and the public ridiculed the refusés, which included such now-famous paintings as Édouard Manet‘s Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe) [1] and James McNeill Whistler‘s Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl. But the critical attention also legitimized the emerging avant-garde in painting. The Impressionists successfully exhibited their works outside the Salon beginning in 1874. Subsequent Salons des Refusés were mounted in Paris in 1874, 1875, and 1886, by which time the popularity of the Paris Salon had declined for those who were more interested in Impressionism…

FREE!

The Lady in Yellow – Victorian Gothic with Werewolves

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/150569

 

 

Roses, Briars and Blood: a Gothic re-Telling of Sleeping Beauty

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/140027

 

For a limited time,  The Lady in Yellow will be FREE, or you can pay what you want. Roses, Briars and Blood has been selling very well too. If you enjoy them, please review them! I will be ever so grateful!

 

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