Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Authors Unleashed

Where do you get your ideas?  That’s the question I hear the most from fans and people who don’t spend their lives writing fiction.

I used to give a flip answer---that I bought them from a little shop in Ellicott City, the charming old town just down the road from my house.

Now I tell the truth.  If you’re a writer, ideas for stories whirl around in your mind all the time.  You just have to choose which ones you’re going to develop.

Until a few years ago authors were restricted to writing the stories publishers wanted to buy.  Now there are no restrictions.  You can write anything you want, publish it yourself, and sell your work to readers.

I jumped into the indie market just over a year ago with a novel, DARK MOON, a novella, CHAINED, and a short story AMBUSHED.  During 2012 I added another novel, DARK POWERS, and a short story, HOT AND DANGEROUS, all the while keeping up my “day job,” writing for Harlequin Intrigue, Sourcebooks, and Carina.

This month, I’ve put several of the above titles together into a DECORAH SECURITY COLLECTION that’s doing really well on Amazon.

Indie publishing is a wild ride with some big advantages and also some disadvantages.  Nobody tells you how long to make the book.  If you have an idea that will work better for a short story than a novel, you can go write and publish it. And nobody censors you.  If your bad guys tend to use the F word when they’re angry, they can sling the trash talk with the best of them.

Then there’s the book cover. Over the years, I’ve been disappointed by so many of the covers my publisher has provided for my books.  Now I get to pick the guy, the pose and the background.  It’s exactly MY vision of my story, which is more satisfying than you know.

And it doesn’t matter if romantic suspense is “in” or “out” or if an editor wants paranormal or not.  I can do it my way.

Of course, you don’t have the support of a big publishing company behind you.  You pay the  cover artist.  And you need to find a good editor and a copy editor---if you want your work to be as polished as possible, with no typos or pesky spelling mistakes.  Then you either learn how to put it up on Amazon and other sites, or you find someone to do it for you.  After that, nobody is going to push your book but you. You’ve got to stay active on social media and interact with fans.  Which is fun, since it keeps you connected with the world from your writing cave.

There are frustrations in the self-publishing business.   But the control over my work outweighs them.  Next up in the DECORAH SECURITY series is ON EDGE, a prequel telling  how Frank Decorah got to be the head of Decorah Security.

I’ve got a couple more projects on the drawing boards as well, which means there’s lots more work for me ahead.  And I hope a lot more reading fun for you.


Mary Hart Perry said...

You're right, Ruth. So many ideas, so little time. I reject tons of possibilities while plotting my own books--and only cling to the ones that truly move me. An interesting article!

Chassie said...

Right on target, Ruth. With so many options available to writers now, it can seem overwhelming. But you're our own personal Pied Piper, leading us wannabes with sage advice and great tips. Thanks from us all!

Nancy Baggett said...

This makes it sound really appealing to go out and publish without a net. But I'm wondering if it is a lot easier if you are already an established writer who has a fan following and also has a lot of experience so doesn't need the usual editorial guidance. What do you think?

Rebecca York said...

Well, in some ways it's still a crap shoot. There are people who have never traditionally published who are doing a lot better than I am at indy publishing. Yes, I do have the experience to know what works. But I still have hired an editor to look at most of my indie books. And like almost everybody, I need a copy editor. Lucky I have an excellent one sleeping in bed w/ me. Some authors did have a huge advantage--being able to get their back lists from their publishers and repub them as indie books. The traditional authors who have done the best were able to publish those books a couple of years ago and establish an indie presence. That changed when the publishers realized THEY could make money w/ e-releases of their authors' back lists.

pearl said...

Nancy makes an interesting point. However, the freedom offered by e-pub is a great thing, as is the opportunity for direct feedback. I don't think I would mind critical reviews so much if people were civil and made reasonable points about their problems with the work. I've just seen too many people just using the review process to vent anger and frustration and it almost seems as if they haven't read the work at all. Could you offer some advice in the future on how to best react to a negative review (rare for you, I suppose:-) )

Rebecca York said...

Pearl, it really depends on the negative review. Even when I know they are working hard to be mean, they make me feel bad. If their criticism sounds reasonable, I think about it.

Nancy, I should have said that another tremendous advantage comes from getting A LOT of indie books out. I have trouble doing that because I'm still writing for traditional publishers, which takes up a lot of my time. Basically, I find myself working VERY HARD these days.

Elizabeth Ashtree said...

I love the Decorah Security books! And the fact that you are doing it your way, with covers you choose yourself, with complete control -- love that. You also never seem to run out of ideas, so we will get to enjoy your writing for years to come.

Toby Devens said...

Yes, I frequently get asked the same question. My response is usually, "something is always brewing." The whys and hows of a particular theme or subject remain a mystery. And I'm afraid if I over-analyze, the gods of creativity will take offense and take off. Also, congrats, Rebecca, on your indie publishing. It's great that we have so many choices these days.

Willa Blair said...

I love choices. It's great to see someone with your experience in publishing branching out into Indie while still writing for the big houses. You've proven that anything is possible. People spout doom and gloom about the industry right now, but it's full of opportunity for those willing to go after it.