Friday, December 7, 2018

Basically, as struggling writers, we're trapped

WARNING!  Up front I am morally bound to warn you today's entry is a bitch-piece. I'm a Grumpy Old Gus today and I can't keep my silly mouth closed any longer.

I've got to get it off my chest.

I want to bitch about Indie publishers. Indie publishers and how they go about finding their 'best selling' authors.

The source of my rumbling bowl-movement is a series I am writing (or maybe I WAS writing) for an
indie. It's the Decimus Julius Virilis series. The 1st Century Roman detective series (look to your right, and go down a few of my entries and find the title, While the Emperor Slept. That's the one.)  The idea was to write an essentially proto-Sherlock Holmes. Someone who uses Holmes' skills in observational prognostication in solving crimes. But a proto-Holmes set in the era of Augustus Caesar.

Okay. Novel written; now what?

The indie publisher accepts the novel and puts it out there for the readers to grab. A few readers do.  One reader even offers a very humbling review saying it was a delightful read and could this be the beginning of a historical series?  And there's the rub . . . One Reader. Not 50 reader/reviews. Not even 10 reader/reviews. Just one.

I write the second book of the series and sent it in almost exactly one year later. The response from the editor? 'Sorry, we'll have to wait a year since the number of sales on your first book is a bit low.'
In other words, I have to hit a Magic Number of sales in order for the second book to be publishes. And what is this Magic Number? Who knows. I surely don't. But that's only part of the problem. The other problem is this publisher, like so many other Indie publishers, use the shot-gun effect in finding their 'best sellers.' They take in about anything that comes to them the first time and publish it. And then they set back and wait for the number of sales to arrive. From this scatter-gun effect they pick and choose who they will continue to publish.

Apparently finding a writer who creates an interesting character that has potential and taking the time to slowly build up that franchise until it reaches the 'best seller' platform, no longer exists. That's been replaced by publishing 15-25 new books a month in an ebook format and then choosing only the writers who hit instant big numbers in sells to continue publishing.

Yeah, okay; I get it. Publishing is a business. In order to publish, you need to make a profit.

But relying on only avenue to the golden lands of Profit Paradise, in the long run, you might be cutting your own throats in the process. Building a franchise takes Time. Patience. A bit of Luck thrown in. There's no proof that Instant Success will continue. But maybe, just maybe, a determined, methodical plan to build a franchise might offer a bigger profit farther down the road.

That's it. That's my Grumpy Gus Gripe for the month. Say 50 Hail Mary's to get the bad taste out of your mind, and then knock down about eight or nine beers later on to clear your throat.

And have a friggin' nice day.