Declaring my Independence

I met my hero, William Kent Krueger, on Monday.  Maybe hero isn’t the right word.  His work hasn’t influenced me, mainly because I haven’t read his writing.  But he’s lived the writing dream that I seek.

William Kent Krueger at Metro Detroit Book and Author Society luncheon, 5-20-2013.  Photo by Michael Kitchen.
William Kent Krueger at Metro Detroit Book and Author Society luncheon, 5-20-2013. Photo by Michael Kitchen.

Krueger has published 14 novels, many of which feature Cork O’Connor, his mystery series character.  His current novel, Ordinary Grace (Atria Books, 2013) made the Indie Next List in April, 2013.  And he was a speaker at the Metro Detroit Book and Author Society luncheon on Monday, May 20, 2013.

William Kent Krueger at Metro Detroit Book and Author Society luncheon, 5-20-2013.  Photo by Michael Kitchen.
William Kent Krueger at Metro Detroit Book and Author Society luncheon, 5-20-2013. Photo by Michael Kitchen.

He is living my writing dream.

After the event, I purchased Ordinary Grace and approached him with the question of how he started – by submitting to agents or publishers first?  He explained he went through an agent and was able to get his first book sold.  He also talked about how self-publishing “back in the day” (he’s about the same age, maybe a handful of years older than I) was taboo, however that has changed immensely.  I mentioned that self-published books didn’t get into the book stores, and he said that things are opening up, that as the author, I have more control, and that self-publishing is something to consider.

Huh.

I’ve been attending a number of author events – writer’s conferences, book signings, luncheons, National Writers Series lectures – to bring me up-to-date on how today’s authors are making it in to traditional publishing.  I’ve learned that there seems to be two ways.

1.  Many of the writers have either a) pursued a Masters in Fine Arts, and by doing so have made connections through the programs they’re in, or b) have made similar connections by working in the field of media entertainment.

Or

2.  As Brad Thor, who also spoke at the Metro Detroit Book & Author Society luncheon, did.  He and his wife were spending their honeymoon in Europe and shared a train car with a brother and sister from Atlanta, Georgia.  The woman happened to be a sales rep with Simon & Shuster, and he submitted his first manuscript to her.  He has since published twelve novels at Simon & Shuster.

Brad Thor at Metro Detroit Book and Author Society luncheon, 5-20-2013.  Photo by Michael Kitchen.
Brad Thor at Metro Detroit Book and Author Society luncheon, 5-20-2013. Photo by Michael Kitchen.

These are not the circles I travel in.  I’m still paying off law school student loan debt, so pursuing another degree is not in consideration.  But like in my law practice, I am continuing my writing education by taking seminars, engaging in writer’s groups and studying the craft.  And unless an employee of a major publisher is appointed to me by the Macomb County Circuit Court, it is unlikely I’ll ever fall into a situation where a Brad Thorish personal connection could ever take place.

How long will I continue pursuing that which seems as likely as hitting the lotto?  It’s time to give self-publishing serious consideration.

I have experience at it, through writing and publishing Erma Henderson’s memoirs.  And better, I know a publisher whose business platform is not just to take your money and publish your manuscript (no matter what the quality) and send you on your way.  This publisher will not accept a manuscript that is poorly written, and provides copy editing as a part of its service.  It is also focused on getting its books on the shelves of book stores, not just the ability to order the book.  And the editor has a sincere passion for encouraging and helping writers hone their craft and for book publishing.

I was concerned about publicity, as the commercial publications tend not to review self-published books, and tend not to include them on best-seller lists.  The Indie-Next List that promotes books in independent book stores, covers only books that are traditionally published.  But, I’ve discovered that Shelf Awareness – a source of news for book sellers – includes a best sellers list of self-published books (provided by IndieReader).  The chance to be reviewed in a magazine available in the chain book stores – ForeWords Reviews – also exists (which is published Traverse City – my home away from home).  And I’m probably just scratching the surface of the world of independent and self-publishing.

And, I have William Kent Krueger, living my dream, encouraging a new author like me to seriously consider self-publishing.  Why?  Maybe my dream has a dark side?

There are still a number of agent queries out there for The Y in Life.  I’ll give them the opportunity to respond.  But after the date I have in mind, the novel goes the self-published route and will likely be available before the end of the year.  And the NaNoWriMo novel I wrote in November which is in rough form, I have begun rewriting for definite publication through my independent publisher.

Seriously, when have I ever been “traditional?”

5 thoughts on “Declaring my Independence

  1. Oh, How I wish my Telugu writer brethren (and cistern too) read this and heed this! They are living in lala land as far as publishing and selling are concerned in spit of year after year of poor sales on one side, and starved reading public clamoring for good reading material on the other side.

    1. Well, it has taken me some time to come around. But it took someone who was actually living the traditional publishing dream to dissuade me from going the that route. Maybe you can be their example of self-publishing success!

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