A thought occurs to me: does the width of a postage stamp matter in the age of email?
I’m staring at my submission.
I meant to send it. I really did. I think. I printed out all the parts, added a brief cover letter and a SASE. It looked polished. It looked beautiful.
Except I couldn’t mail it unless I had a particular kind of envelope. One that would keep the pages flat and water-free. In case of rain, you know. Finally, last Sunday, my husband asked, “Why haven’t you mailed this?”, pointing to my submission neatly placed on a shelf.
Because I can’t find the right envelope, I don’t have time to get to the post office, blah, blah, blah.
He looked at me for a while, then said, with all the confidence of someone who’s known me for years, “Something’s holding you back.”
No. This is a good step. In the meantime, I try to ignore that niggling that says he’s right.
“How about if I take it with me to work and mail it myself?”
Okay. I’ll give you the instructions.
And now it’s more than nervousness. This doesn’t feel right. Nightmares start up of terrible “standard” contracts, less than stellar sales that get me dropped from my contract, changes to the book’s structure that miss the point I was trying to make in the first place, a cover that should have never been put on my book. I can already feel myself losing control. I’m just being paranoid, I tell myself. A publisher will improve my book. They can get it to places I never could and I’ll read up on marketing so that I can push the book myself. I can hire an agent or get a lawyer and they’ll keep me out of any contract trouble. I shove down the feeling this is wrong, update the date on the cover letter, print it out and hand it off to my husband in a manila envelope so everything stays neat.
This feels so wrong.
Well, now that that’s done, I should try out Kindle and download The Naked Truth About Book Publishing because I want to know about any changes I may encounter. And that’s when my eyes opened.
See, the last time I considered selling any of my work, ebooks hadn’t become as huge as they are now. It was the domain of small presses and independents. Kindle wasn’t around and Amazon didn’t sell ebooks in any form. iUniverse had been pushed as a venue for those who wanted to self-publish in a more legitimate sense and LuLu had just started (yes, I’m old). Print was the only way to go and the only way to make it affordable was to go to a publisher. Not to mention the legitimacy it gave your work.
And traditional publishers had just begun to feel the effects of the new tech.
Things have changed. I should have known that when I found the new industry standard was Times New Roman. Or when Holly Lisle shared a taste of her experiences in traditional publishing. The more research I did, the less I liked what I saw.
It’s more than marketing. The very structure is changing and little bits and pieces I’ve read in articles combined with author experiences I’ve read and this book I’m reading now all tell me that feeling in the pit of my stomach needs to be followed. I can’t go the route of traditional publishing.
So, I stare at the submission and put it back on the shelf. I’m going to publish this myself as an ebook. I’m more scared than when I put all the pieces of my submission together. I’m also more excited. I need to do more research, but I already have people who like what I write. I’ve been holding back because I cared more about being “legitimate” than I did about giving them more stories.
For those of you who decide to keep heading toward traditional publishing, I sincerely wish you the best. It’s a wonderful thing, I’m sure, to see your name in all sorts of stores, do book tours, and make enough money you never have to worry about financial security ever again. I hope your gamble takes off and you become one of the big names.
This is a new path for me with its own problems and obstacles. It will be a very difficult path with what will probably be smaller monetary rewards. But I feel it’s the one for me.
More in the near future.