Writer Reality Check: An Alternate Universe

EMichels did a post a few weeks ago about the reality of being a writer on the traditional publishing path. I’m going to piggy back onto that with the tale of a writer with genre split personality on the path toward multi-pronged publication and God only knows what else.

In 2009, I joined RWA to get serious about writing and get published via pretty much the only way available. *serious face here* Then I got pregnant with Lil Man and there was a great big pause button pushed on the whole thing.

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It took another year for me to get serious again and another half a year to finish a book. *return to serious face*

I tell you this to say that while my life changed a lot from 2009 to now, publication changed even more. Four years is a relatively small passage of time, but now it’s two totally different worlds for both of us. My status: I work full time and I’m mommy to a toddler. Publication’s status: wide open with traditional, boutique, small print, digital of every size, and self pubs all finding success. Don’t forget the hybrid opportunities either.

My goal when I set out was to share my stories with readers. That goal hasn’t changed. But since getting back in the game, I don’t have a traditional only goal. I’m open to what works best for reaching the readers of what I write. I will go where they are and here’s the fun part: I write in two similar yet totally different genres. The readerships are found in different places. One is almost exclusively digital; the other is available in every form.  

Right now, I’m published digitally, so I can only speak to the logistics of digital press. I can tell you how I feel about it in two words and, of course, a gif:

It Rocks!

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I co-write a book a year. We’ve released two books with the same press, had the same editor and cover artist for both, and have had a wonderful experience with all of it. It’s a niche readership, but they seem to dig what we write, so Yay!!! Since digitals don’t pay big advances and rarely contract multi-book projects, the pressure of multiple books due for multiple edits at various times, is gone – unless you choose to submit multiple books. With a digital press, you write a book and send it in. If they say yay, you do edits and release the book. After that, you can repeat the process as you wish. One book a year or five. Pick your poison. The level of pressure is up to you.

The other genre I write is successful both traditionally and digitally. I aspire to do either or both. I like traditional publishing because of the experience and broader market for distribution and exposure. However, my mainstream contemporaries are steamy and, at times, gritty, so I think they’d do well in digital too.

Bottom line: As a writer, you have to look at what you write and look at your life. (It’s taking everything I have right now not to type “look at your life, look at your choices” – Oops, did it anyway.) If you work full time and have young children, you can still pull off a traditional three book deal or write as a hybrid author, but be prepared for the writer crazy eyes.

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If you don’t want crazy eyes, maybe stick with digital or small print and choose a slower pace.

If I get my wish, I’ll have the overlap, the deadlines, more pressures along with working full time…and yes, probably the eyes. I plan NOT to over do it, but you know how plans sometimes go. Regardless, life is short and this writing thing is a thing I love. No matter what path you choose, there will always be challenges, bends in the road you weren’t expecting. For when that happens, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes. I often apply it to being a writer and I hope it inspires you to dig in and never give up.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” 

-Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own

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