Several Roads Divide in A Yellow Wood   4 comments

What is one thing that you wish you’d known about writing before you started?


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What a Hard Question!

First, I was 12 when I started writing. That is to say, that’s when I started putting ink on paper. Before that, I was making up stories to entertain myself and friends. So there was a lot I didn’t know about writing. I think I didn’t really know grammar when I started writing.

Let’s fast-forward a bit. I started thinking about writing books for other people to read when I was in my 20s. I was studying and then working as a journalist, but fiction always called to me. And there was still a lot I didn’t know.

There Is More than One Way to Publish

Frankly, in the 1980s, there wasn’t more than one way to publish. The Big 5 were it. Sure, you could do a vanity press, but you’d never sell the cases of books the press would sell you unless you had a publisher to help you with marketing, so there was really only one way to publish where other people were going to read my books.

I didn’t know about KDP for quite some time after it became a reality and it took me a while to get over my snobbery about “vanity presses.” I wish I’d gotten over those hurdles a couple of years sooner. Instead, I wasted time with traditional publishing.

The traditional route to publication involves submitting your manuscript to literary agents and hoping one of them likes it well enough to secure representation. I am a Christian who writes non-Christian literature that doesn’t fit neatly into the categories, which literary agents didn’t like. I kept getting advice about The Willow Branch which always said it was a great book, but I should rewrite it to be one or the other. It couldn’t be both. That left me unable to go forward because I wasn’t willing to turn my high fantasy into a Mitford novel or the Left Behind series. And that made me realize that I really didn’t want to wait forever while my agent submitted my manuscript to editors at publishing houses who would then tell me to rewrite the book.

There is nothing wrong with this approach, but there were new options. There are small publishers and digital-first publishing houses that put out high-quality books and many don’t require authors to have a literary agent to submit manuscripts. Unfortunately, they wanted money, which felt a lot like vanity press and we also didn’t have the cash to spend on that sort of long shot.

Self-publishing is the option I chose because I could work with others in an authors’ cooperative to produce a great product. The cooperative created a boutique press that allows all of us to appear as if we’re part of a publishing house. But the cooperative doesn’t own my copywrites, which I’ve come to absolutely love as I’ve had friends have to fight their way through a rights battle with small presses that fell apart. Self-publication is definitely not a shortcut, but it helps to be able to set my own deadlines and make my own decisions. It’s a lot of hard work but to be a successful author requires a lot of hard work no matter what route you take. I might as well do it for myself rather than for an editor at a publishing house.

Posted January 16, 2023 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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4 responses to “Several Roads Divide in A Yellow Wood

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  1. However – one should never underestimate the value of a professional editor with a track record. Not a content editor (rewrite your story) but a red pen editor who knows the difference between style and bad writing habits. That way you can understand what PWA or the others are telling you in their reports. It also forces you to line-item paragraphs until you start to think the way it needs to hit the page with a dust up. The rest is true enough. If a franchise author is writing shit and putting $ in the drawer, that’s the game.


    • I have an editor for the redline thing and I also use beta readers and my husband or son usually do a redline last read before I publish. But to have an editor who works for someone who owns your copywriter who isn’t you — nope, I’m glad I didn’t go that route.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As am indie author, I think one of the bonuses is being able to control prices. If I want to do a flash sell on an e-book, it’s a simple process.


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