Non-traditional publishing; all the things I didn't say...
I like writing a lot better than speaking. The reason why will become (painfully) obvious if you hear me speak.
Like I did a couple of Saturday's ago.
Ace of Geeks hosted a panel at WOWcon on non-traditional publishing in which I joined John Westley Hawthorne to talk about social media, self-promotion, getting comments mere minutes after publishing something, and avoiding gatekeepers.
Unfortunately I kept thinking of things I wanted to add. Sometimes I thought of them when John was holding the microphone. Sometimes I thought of them after I'd already answered the question and we had moved on (and I didn't want to be like a politician: "I'm going to go back to the last question for a second..."). I even thought of something three days later while I was washing baby puke off the kitchen floor with a sponge in an absurd, "I totally should have said that!" moment.
This is why I'm a writer, not an orator.
So today's post is a minute by minute break down of the podcast, and all the things that I thought of but didn't say.
Here is the podcast for you to listen along to while I make comments.
0:40- Lots of technical difficulties in this panel. Plus some pervy hosts. Good times. Good times.
I think our microphones are going to cut out at least three times over the course of the panel, but it mostly affected our presentation at the venue–the podcast microphone stayed on the whole time. You can hear it happen, but our voices only get a little lower.
1:14- "Very unique." I'm supposed to Hulk out with English major rage when someone says that phrase, I think.
2:00- I misspoke here. It was more like 35 years old, not 40. The people around my age could go either way, but they tended to be more into the book as a physical object, the traditional book deal as an act of validation, and looked down their noses a bit at non-traditional routes.
2:30- John was awesome to share a panel with! I'm very interested in reading his books now.
3:00- Wait, why are we hating on "speculative fiction?"
3:50- John mentions fear as a factor for him and I think it's worth pointing out that non-traditional publishing is not really a way to get out of being rejected. People will still judge you, and some quite harshly. The only difference is that you're dealing with that power of gatekeepers in traditional publishing. It can be more intense to have your whole opportunity come down to one opinion, but I think the difference between one gatekeeper and a thousand readers commenting can be just as scary.
More people can tell you that you suck, but no one can tell you no.
5:00- So apparently this is me not actually answering the question and getting so wrapped up in my own fucking tangent that I lose the plot. What I'm getting at in this train wreck of a reply is that one of the fundamental freedoms a non-traditional writer has is the freedom to not make a profit. (At least not immediately.) They can make a few dollars here and there and do not need to clear a certain amount to justify their existence.
8:00- Mike's talking about Coming Out as Feminist which I had written the day before, knowing it would probably get me some hate mail. I never did get any. I will work harder.
10:30- I did some research before I started blogging, and I am doing a little better than average blogger (with daily updates who's been writing for about 2 1/2 years) to be getting 30,000+ hits a month, but most bloggers work several years with daily content before they make any kind of "day job" money. It's work. It's not a get rich quick scheme.
If you update less frequently it can take even longer.
12:00- I said this, but I want to hit it again and again, self publishing isn't any faster than traditional publishing in terms of how quickly a writer can expect to start seeing progress. (But it sure is nice to get a tiny paycheck and build up a bit of an audience in those early years.)
15:00- I've got a post coming up about all that time management stuff that went wrong a few weeks back and what I learned and this is what I started to talk about here. I think I've discovered a lot of things about blogging by trial and error, but the biggest mistake I've made, by far, is that I was just HEMORRHAGING time on Facebook. I am in the process of completely reorganizing my schedule to be better about writing when I'm writing so that I have time to do other things without feeling like I'm a shlub.
16:30- Approaching reading strangers on the BART? John is bolder than I. Also his book store promotions were exactly what I was talking about when I responded to this hate mail about paid promotions. You have to promote. The only question is how you're going to do it.
17:30- John brings up one of the great points about promotion in general. You can't count on the world to find you because you're just that awesome. Everyone thinks that they will be found, but it just doesn't happen that way. Once you get a few fans, they are like walking billboards, but to spark the initial interest you must, must, must self promote.
18:00- Hire an editor! Editors rule. If I ever put out a full manuscript–no matter if it's an e-pub book or in chunks on the blog or PDFs or what–it will be polished and clean.
18:20- An under-employed English major? It's hard to imagine such a creature.
19:15- I post on lots of places but most of my time and energy goes to Tumblr and Facebook.
24:00- Man, John sure knows a lot more about this than I do. I'll just stare at the floor for this part.
28:00- I have a writer's group, after a fashion. I've cobbled together a close-knit group of readers who I can trust to read me objectively (and who I am happy to read as well). In a way they are my writing group. So it might be more fair to say that I don't like some of the artificially constructed writing groups. Hold tight to the readers you respect.
33:20- What a great question! Playing "the game" with integrity is a really great personal decision for each writer. Posts that no one reads might be brilliant, but an artist needs reach.
34:45- You may not hit a glass ceiling so much as you might find you aren't growing as fast as you could be.
36:40- I think I have nightmares where I'm blogging naked in front of a camera.
37:30- Some of the searches that have lead to Writing About Writing are very strange. Some of them make me worry about the fate of humanity.
38:30- Changing the Creepy Guy narrative is the article I'm talking about that went up on the mirror sites.
Also, someone turned The A to Zen of a Writer's Life into a Tumblr without even asking me.
|You'll be sorrier when I make you say hello to my little friend.|
(Jesus, is that reference really over thirty years old?)
41:30- Creepy Guy still gets about 5% of my traffic (I checked that figure again today, and it's still holding), but more than that, it brings people to my site who then find other things they like. And some of those people stick around and share other articles. I still maintain that the right philosophy is to accumulate tributaries–because you never know what is going to go viral.
Creepy guy may be a major tributary (the Missouri River of my analogy), but don't forget that the other 95% of my traffic doesn't come from there.
42:45- I guess I am a feminist blogger, but W.A.W. isn't generally about feminism. I think every time I write something popular that has a feminist tack, I get some people interested who then leave when they realize I'm mostly going to do book polls, tell people to write daily, and make threesome jokes.
47:00- This question threw me because I'd never heard of a blogging platform retaining the rights to your words (and I wouldn't have blogged on one if it had) and I was PRETTY sure they actually couldn't write a TOS that could strip a writer of their own copyright. (It's actually pretty hard for someone else to own your writing without you explicitly signing a contract.)
48:30- A few people have asked me if I'm going to continue to stick with non-traditional publishing if I get the opportunity at a book deal, or if that "opting out spiel" is just something I say to make me feel better about a decision I've already made. I actually have been contacted by an agent (not a huge one, but a real one) who told me my pre-generated audience (giving me marketing power through social media) could basically guarantee me a book deal if I could give them even a halfway decent manuscript. I turned them down.
So my money is where my mouth is on that one. Or I'm just stupid and like making my life harder than it has to be. Either one of those would probably fit.
51:00- I totally missed the actual trajectory of John's question. I gave this terribly long term, 5-year-plan type answer about being an ally, and John was really asking about the "Die Happy" moment.
So here is my actual "Die Happy" moment: all joking of groupie threesomes aside, I would love to overhear a conversation about myself as a writer between two people who I'd never met and who didn't realize who I was. They could even be having a fierce conversation about how much I sucked, and I think I would just squee myself into rapture.
After that I just make an ass out of myself trying to tell everyone how to find Writing About Writing online.