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Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Will RANT You an Education

In having made a decision to boycott the New York Times best sellers list (maybe not in the exact definition of boycott), I've come to realize I should have explained why a bit better. I have decided not to purchase any books that make it into the NYT best sellers list for a laundry list of reasons. When I became an author and put both feet forward I was enlightened (the hard way) to how much work it is to be a writer. When you put years into a book backed with education, experience and wit and then have it repeatedly snubbed by agents and publishers it begs the question: Why?

Lets face it, I'm not perfect. Like any good woman and mother, I try to be the best person I can be by learning from my mistakes as well as others. So I stepped back and questioned my every move. Then, I researched and researched and researched some more. There are steps one must follow to be a successful writer, according to any 'How to Publish your Book' article you come across. In order to be a success, you have to write a great book, edit the holy crap out of it and then let it ferment. Then you edit the holy crap out of it again. After that, you find yourself a Literary Agent who works with books of your genre. Then find about 300 more. Then you must go through the query process, bio process, synopsis and sample process and're only at the tip of the ice burg.

There are steps upon steps to publish a book. Unfortunately, for about 96% of all writers out there, they will never be offered a contract. This is not a guess  or an assumption, and I am not an author who's been snubbed so many times that I'm now bitter. On the contrary, I've had a contract. I've made pretty good sales (in my opinion), I've made some money and like any other diligent author, I'm still working my way up that insane corporate ladder (figuratively speaking).

Having said that, I have also since terminated my contract and gone independent. This happened for 2 reasons. One was that my publisher was hoping to strike it rich the first month my book went out. When that didn't happen (as I told them it wouldn't) they decided not to put as much work into it. Then there was my paycheck. In what was supposed to be a 50% royalty, I somehow ended up with about a 35% paycheck. And after I read 2  not so good reviews on my novel I realized, the publisher put the book up for sale without finishing the edits. So that was the 2'nd reason I terminated the contract. If I'm going to get bad reviews and possibly a bad reputation, it should at least be my own fault.

So indie for me! Unfortunately, with being an independent author comes the work load. Its not really as bad as you might think but when you work 2 jobs, are raising a child and running a household all on your own, taking on another full time job is as hard as concrete wrapped in stone and coated in steel. But on I trudge.

In all my efforts to continue my dream to retire as a successful author, I hit so many road blocks along the way that my nose has taken on a funny shape. But as I can still breathe, I will continue to fight the never ending battle between the big publishing houses and indie authors. After all, what choice do I have?

In my studies and efforts I've found that in trying to get my work out there for all to see, it has become an agonizing struggle for which I've not yet won. For example, I recently sent out emails to all my local newspapers and libraries announcing the release of my latest novel. About a week after I emailed my local news station I received a phone call from one the anchors who hosts the 'Local' and 'Entertainment' portions of the show. He was quick to ask me who my publisher was. When I said it was self published he responded with, "Oh......well, then I'd be happy to have you do a half hour segment on our show showing and describing your book for a fee." I wont tell you what the fee was, but it quickly made me say, "No thanks. I was just hoping you could put the information on your website." He basically said he'd see what he could do, which was nothing. Coincidence?

I also received an email from one of my local libraries which also asked who my publisher was and whether or not I made it onto the New York Time's best sellers list. When I said it was self published and never on the NYT b.s. list they quickly said, thanks but no thanks. They wouldn't even accept a donation of my books simply because they were self published. (The newspapers never even responded to me.)

So I again asked myself if I was doing something wrong. I did even more research and found what I never thought I'd find. I found article upon article about how the big publishing houses are killing indie authors and books as we know them. I prayed it wasn't true.......and then the letters started to arrive. Responses from Literary Agents to my query letters, from God knows how long ago.

When I ever read their responses, I started to wonder if I'd ever breathe through my nose again. I was shocked and disappointed. Not because they were all rejection letters but because they all actually gave me the reasons why they were rejecting my manuscript. It wasn't because the story sucked. It wasn't because my editing was so atrocious that they couldn't even get through it. No, nothing like that. Several letters actually said these words, "We regret to inform you that we will not be accepting your project as we are not accepting any new authors due to the decline in the economy."


As a business person, this is not logical to me. If you are experiencing a decline in sales (no matter what the reason) any good business person would know that it's time to try a new tactic, approach or in this matter, talent. But instead, the publishers decided that it was simply safer to stick with the authors they already had and not try anything new.

I'd love to ask, "How's that working for ya?"

More letters rolled in. "I'm sorry, but we cannot accept your project at this time as we are not accepting any new authors."

I did happen to get a couple letters of rejection for odd things such as sending a Paranormal Romance to an agency that was Christian based (which i did not see on their website), and I got a couple letters saying that perhaps another agent might find my genre more interesting, but apart from those it was all simply because I was new.

So as I rolled my eyes, tossed the letters and moved on to publish my own work I realized that my books would never sell as well as those that were reviewed for the New York Time's. So I looked into getting my novel to them......several times. After a while I did some digging and found out that the New York Times ONLY reviews books that have the highest sales who are backed by the most prominent publishers in New York. Unfortunately, upon further digging I found that these books are NOT necessarily 'best sellers'. They are expected to be best sellers by those who work for the New York Times and happen to get good reviews. This is a bad business practice that most people don't realize. But it doesn't stop there. No.....even for the few who are aware of this, they still have the high end, nose in the air reputation that draws in the more posh crowd who simply want the best of the best (even if its only in rumor) and will pay for those books just because the most famous newspaper in one of the richest states in America said so.

So now it becomes the old tale of the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. Yep, I went there. I have to, it is what it is. We may not want to admit this is how it is, but it doesn't change anything. The reason I want to boycott the New York Time's is because their age old habits are now hampering the success of millions of incomparably amazing writers all over the world. And for what? So celebrities can put books out and make even MORE millions for books they didn't even write? For more 'been there, done that' books from the same old author? Frankly, these books aren't worth my hard earned money.

If publishers no longer accept new authors how on earth do they expect to make truly great writers a success? If only there was a way to round up all the indie authors out there who are fighting the good fight and build a business of our own......oh wait! There is!

I will not buy any books I find on the best sellers list because I know there are MANY other authors out there who write far better books. If all us indie authors stopped paying the big publishers by not buying these books, we'd be taking a leg out from under that table. Then maybe the authors who didn't earn their way to the top but got there anyway will finally step down and let the real talent do their thing. Then authors can get all their royalties and know that they didn't get screwed. Then we can all be appreciated for the work we put into it because we are the ones doing it! I believe it will all be worth it in the long run.

So there you have it. You don't have to agree with me. You don't have to stop buying the books they advertise but I will. I hope you all have a better understanding about what it is to be an independent author vs a published author.

Good luck to those of you still struggling to get attention from the publishers!